Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.

  • Published: 1 Sep 2017
  • DOI: 10.4324/9781138201521-HET10-1


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Thorstein Bunde Veblen (1857–1929)
  • John Richard Commons (1862–1945)
  • Wesley Clair-Mitchell (1874–1944)
  • Institutionalism between the institutionalized thinking and the New Deal
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography

Old Institutionalism (1880–1918)


From 1880 in the United States, the declining economic importance of. agricultural, immigration, unemployment, poverty, the acceleration of technical progress in the industrial sector, capital concentration and the emergence of trusts in the steel and petroleum sectors were the main subjects of economic debate. These topics were also at the heart of the work of a new generation of economists who sought to provide alternative answers to orthodox theories in which the market was the only institution capable of advancing society towards economic growth. This alternative approach is now known as Old Institutionalism. It focused on the evolution and role of institutions that develop in society and that characterize social and economic dynamics.