The Political Economy of Conflict and Appropriation

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This collection of essays departs from the conventional economic paradigm wherein individuals or groups choose among various productive activities for mutually beneficial trade. Each essay recognizes that where property rights are not well defined or easily enforced, individuals may forgo productive opportunities and engage in appropriative activities to compete for property, income, rights or privileges. Though the essays differ in their focus, each illustrates the importance of the institutional setting in determining economic activity. The first of the two sets of essays examines the allocation of resources among productive and appropriative activities in an anarchical political environment, without legal or constitutional tradition. Their objective is to understand different facets of the emergence of order and restraint on individual behaviour out of conditions with few or no assumed constraints. The second set focuses on different types of political institutions, illustrating how they shape conflict and economic activity, and how they themselves can be shaped by conflict.