Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework For Interpreting Recorded Human History

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [UQ Library]On: 22 November 2014, At: 02:02Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>International Review of PublicAdministrationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Violence and Social Orders:A Conceptual Framework ForInterpreting Recorded Human HistoryZia Obaidaa Florida State University, USAPublished online: 25 Mar 2014.</p><p>To cite this article: Zia Obaid (2012) Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual FrameworkFor Interpreting Recorded Human History, International Review of Public Administration, 17:1,201-205, DOI: 10.1080/12264431.2012.10805224</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms&amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>This book is coauthored by Douglas C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R.Weingast and was first published in 2009. Douglas C. North is a Spencer T. OlinProfessor in Arts and Science at Washington University at St. Louis. He was a co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He is a neo-institutionaleconomist who has had a profound impact on the field and has rejuvenated this particularsubject area in economics. His work deals with issues of property rights, economicorganization in history, and formation of political and economic institutions. </p><p>John Joseph Wallis is a professor of economics at University of Maryland. His areasof interest are economic history, public finance, institutional development and economicsof transaction costs. He has written extensively on the subject of institutions and theirimpact on economic and political development.</p><p>Barry R Weingast is the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor in the Department ofPolitical Science at Stanford University. His research focuses on the political foundationsof markets, economic reform, and regulation, including problems of political economy ofdevelopment, federalism, decentralization, and legal institutions. </p><p>The central thesis of Violence and Social Orders is that every social order hasparticular institutional constraints, organizational structure, and belief systems thatdetermine how it copes with the possibility of violence. The proposition is explicated inthe historical context where the transition from one type of social order (natural access or</p><p> International Review of Public Administration2012, Vol. 17, No. 1</p><p>201</p><p>Book Review</p><p>VIOLENCE AND SOCIAL ORDERS: A CONCEPTUALFRAMEWORK FOR INTERPRETING RECORDED</p><p>HUMAN HISTORY</p><p>Douglas C. North, John J. Wallis &amp; Barry R. Weingast, Violence and Social Orders:A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (New York:</p><p>Cambridge University Press, 2009), 326 pp.; US $31.60. Hardcover. </p><p>ZIA OBAIDFlorida State University, USA</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>UQ</p><p> Lib</p><p>rary</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>02 2</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>limited access) to the other (open access) has been presented as linear and evolutionary.The two social orders are differentiated on the basis of their peculiar characterization ofthe power and access of individuals to politico-economic spheres of the society. Thelimited access society is based on personal interrelationships of societal elites, while theopen access society is characterized by impersonal role-based interactions. Thus, inlimited access societies, the access to societal organizations is limited to societal elites,while in open access societies it is open to all who fulfill some impersonal predeterminedcriteria. The theory further purports that the belief system prevalent within the society isinfluenced by the institutional arrangement that assists in managing violence within asociety. Furthermore, the authors discuss the reasons underlying the transition fromlimited access to open access social orders and how such transition is initiated. </p><p>The book is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter explicates the conceptualframework; in the second and third chapters the natural state is discussed in detail; thefourth chapter covers open access orders; in the fifth chapter the transition from limitedto open access orders and related doorstep conditions are detailed; the penultimatechapter explains the transition proper; and the last chapter describes the prospective newresearch agenda for social sciences. </p><p>The social orders are characterized by the way societies craft institutions that supportthe existence of special forms of human organization, the way societies limit or openaccess to other organizations, and through the incentives created by the pattern oforganizations (p. 1). Human history has been purported to have three social orders:foraging, limited access (natural state), and open access. The foraging order wasprevalent in hunter-gatherer societies; the limited access or natural order existed (and stillexists) in agrarian societies; while the open access order is the name given to the societalmilieu of developed countries.</p><p>The limited access order is argued to be a natural order as it was the primordialsocietal form, capable of securing physical order and managing violence (p. 31) Thetheory posits that the natural state is one where there is a dominant coalition of elites whopossesses expertise (or control) in some dominant function of society, such as trade,worship and education (p. 30). This, however, does not imply that all natural states arealike; they can be differentiated on the basis of the structure of their state, institutions,and in the sophistication of organizations that (they) can support (p. 41). Identified onthe basis of these characteristics, the three types of natural state are fragile, basic, andmature; where the commitment of dominant coalitions seems to vary from fluid to stableto durable institutional structure, respectively. The tendency of the state to sustain itselfand other institutions is posited to increase from a fragile to a mature state, with a maturestate being the best equipped to control violence. </p><p>The second social order discussed in the book is the open access order. This has beencharacterized by shared belief system, entry into all social systems without restraint,equal opportunity for all to form organizations, impartial rule of law, and impersonal</p><p>202 Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Vol. 17, No. 1Recorded Human History</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>UQ</p><p> Lib</p><p>rary</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>02 2</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>exchange. The open access order, it has been argued, emerged in the post-industrial era(second social revolution), and the peculiarities of the social milieu of that epochfacilitated its emergence. The dynamic through which open access orders controlviolence is based on the argument of virtuous circle: where the political system limitsaccess to the use of violence, while access to the political system as well as to theeconomic and social systems is open, to make sure that everyone has an equal chance ofaccessing these systems, and a nonpartisan judiciary enforces prohibitions on the use ofviolence. Thus, open access maintains competition within all systems, and competitionwithin all systems, in turn helps sustain open access (p. 110). Furthermore, in limitedaccess orders, the formation of and participation in political and economic organizationsis a privilege of elites; in open access orders it is open to everyone who meets a set ofminimal and impersonal criteria (p. 2).</p><p>The control of violence in open access orders is posited to be achieved throughconsolidation of the power to use violence in certain legitimate agencies. In contrast toa natural state, where dispersed control over violence acts as a deterrent, the openaccess system confines the control of violence primarily to the jurisdiction of the politicalsystem. However, due to open access to political as well as economic systems, the use ofviolence by societal elites is removed from the equation as they know that, in the casethat the state uses any kind of violence against them, they will be voted out. Furthermore,the existence of enforceable institutions and organizations (executive and judiciary) toimplement and sustain them provides enough assurance to those not in government thatviolence will be restricted within the ambit of the law, thus restraining violence in theopen access order. Another attribute of the open access order is that the government islarge compared to that in a natural state society. The reason for this is that the states in anopen access order are responsible for performing more complex functions than those in anatural state. </p><p>The framework posits that the natural state may evolve into open access provided itpossesses favorable institutional and organizational characteristics: the doorstepconditions. The three doorstep conditions identified by the authors are rule of law forelites, perpetually lived organizations in the public and private spheres, and consolidatedcontrol of the military. These three conditions, if met, provide an opportunity for thesocial order to move from limited access to open access, but this may not always occur.The enactment and implementation of institutions governing the rights and privileges ofelites provides legitimacy to those laws. Transformation of privileges to rights isbeneficial for the elites as it consolidates their position of rent seeking, eliminating theneed to resort to violence. Secondly, the institutions also provide for the emergence ofimpersonal private organizations that live in perpetuity, mandated by the institutionsunder the auspices of the state. Lastly, the military must be controlled by the state, withall the elites agreeing to its rules of engagement. This condition ensures that the authorityof violence is monopolized with the state instead of with individuals, and that even the</p><p>April 2012 Zia Obaid 203</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>UQ</p><p> Lib</p><p>rary</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>02 2</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>state should use the military only under specific circumstances provided for in the lawand not at the will of any individual or group. Thus, the framework identifies theemergence of institutions that transform the elites privileges into rights and protectimpersonal elite identities and elite access to organization (p. 148).</p><p>The book offers a useful framework for interpreting and analyzing institutionaldevelopment within different social orders and their implications for controlling violencein a society. It has been assumed that the basis of the emergence of and change ininstitutions is predominantly economic, wherein the social elites come up withinstitutions that can maximize their rents and control violence. The historical data andliterature on the development of various institutional forms is analyzed by usinginterpretive analysis. The framework explicates the conditions conducive to theemergence of different institutional forms in different social orders. It further positsreasons that some institutions prevail longer than others and outlines the conditions thatmake open access more feasible for one social order than another. It can, however, beargued that the framework ignores sociological aspects in its analysis of societalcontexts; that is, the understanding that institutions do not always emerge as aconsequence of intentional design or efficient solutions to societal problems. From asociological perspective, institutions also arise as patterns of behavior that spread bymimicry, repetition, and normative institutionalization. </p><p>Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting RecordedHuman History provides a theoretical viewpoint to analyze the historical progression ofsocieties and their capacity to control violence. The explanations are based on theassumption that institutions are the intentional consequences of actions taken by rationalactors. The strength of this approach is its neat categorization of societies that canexplicate broader trends existing in societies. However, numerous aspects other thanmere economic calculations and the repeated nature of relationships play a pivotal role inlegitimizing institutions within a society. The critique that can be offered to the thesisregards the openness of the open access order. Critical theorists may find the basicassumption of the framework problematic: that in open access orders the access topolitical and economic institutions is impersonal. In particular, there are numerousexamples of political and business families which participate in networks that give themaccess to avenues that may not be accessible to the average person. </p><p>On the whole, this book is an important contribution to the field of neo-institutionaleconomics and developmental studies, and the framework can be applied in differentsocial settings. Students from various disciplines, including economics, political science,public administration, developmental studies, comparative administration, sociology, andanthropology, may find the framework helpful and the book an interesting and insightfulread. </p><p>204 Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Vol. 17, No. 1Recorded Human History</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>UQ</p><p> Lib</p><p>rary</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>02 2</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Zia Obaid is a Fulbright PhD candidate at Florida State University. His areas of interestinclude organization theory, public policy, comparative administration, and institutions.He holds an MPA from University of Peshawar, Pakistan, and a masters in Philosophy(MPhil) in Pu...</p></li></ul>