Exchange transactions revisited: on the universal applicability of homo economicus

Dixon, John
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive classification of quid pro quo exchange transactions, so as to distinguish the different ways that desired exchange outcomes can be determined and that transactional processes can be conducted. This permits reflection on the generality of the theory of the individual embedded in neoclassical (orthodox) economics. Design/methodology/approach - The approach adopted is to draw upon the contending dichotomies in epistemology (naturalism or hermeneutics) and ontology (agency or structure) to demarcate and depict a set of Weberian archetypal social actors, so as to explore their cognitions and behaviors in a transactional arena. These archetypal social actors are hypothetical role-playing actors - they do not describe real people. Findings - These archetypal social actors, collectively, are suggestive of the profuseness of ways people can engage in exchange transactions. Each archetype's credibility is contingent upon the veracity of its ontological and epistemological standpoints. Each, indeed, has blindspots that permit the denied standpoints to be ignored without analytical detriment. None can, therefore, claim the status of a general theory of exchange process. Originality/value - The paper's originality is that it explores exchange transactions from a variety of epistemological and ontological perspectives.


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Citation Formats
J. Dixon, “Exchange transactions revisited: on the universal applicability of homo economicus,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ECONOMICS, pp. 459–473, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: