The economic adventures of Robinson Crusoe : an institutionalist critique and reinterpretation

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2011
Karagöz, Ufuk
In 1719, Daniel Defoe wrote his first fiction The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe without knowing that the protagonist of the novel, Robinson Crusoe, would be liberated from his cultural matrix and deployed as a dominant economic metaphor with the advent of the so-called marginalist revolution in the second half of the nineteenth century. This thesis intends to: i) with reference to an habits of thought approach, unearth the institutional nature of the metamorphosis of Crusoe from a figure of the literary realm to the economic man of neoclassical economics, and ii) based on a rereading of Defoe’s original text, offer an alternative reinterpretation which would turn upside down the prevalent presuppositions of neoclassical economics portraying an isolated, universal and axiomatically rational Crusoe. Accordingly, in this study, Crusoe is presented as a specific time- and space-bound human being preserving and perpetuating his institutionally forged character traits even during his sojourn on the ‘institution-free’ uninhabited island; a methodological and expeditious man, whose rationality was based not on the fulfillment of axioms but on reasoning; and an entrepreneur aiming at economic development through innovation.

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Citation Formats
U. Karagöz, “The economic adventures of Robinson Crusoe : an institutionalist critique and reinterpretation ,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2011.