Lawrence Kelso Frank's Proto Ayresian Dichotomy: A Note
University of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 395
23 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2004
Date Written: August 2003
This paper explores Lawrence Kelso Frank's contribution to the evolution of the so called Veblenian dichotomy. According to this apprach, peculiar to the institutional framework of every economic system is an absolute and irreconcilable tension between the dynamic and progressive force of technology on the one side, and the static and conservative structure of ceremony and institutions on the other. The first section examines Frank's adoption of behavioristic psychology in connection with the main changes which were taking place in the American social sciences during the first decades of the twentieth century. The second section describes Frank's theory of institutional change, emphasizing its similarities with the brand of institutionalism developed by Clarence Ayres in the early 1940s. The third section compares Frank's institutionalism with the contributions of Thorstein Veblen and the philosopher John Dewey. Our main conclusion is that, in many respects, Frank's work represents a departure from Veblen's and a step toward an Ayresian dichotomic analysis of institutional evolution.
Keywords: American institutionalism, Ayres, Clarence, Behaviourism, Dewey, John, Frank, Lawrence K., Economics and psychology, Veblen Thorstein
JEL Classification: B25, B31, B42, B52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation