The Dark Places of Business Enterprise: Reinstating Social Costs in Institutional Economics, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Dark Places of Business Enterprise

Reinstating Social Costs in Institutional Economics, 1st Edition

By Pietro Frigato, Francisco J. Santos Arteaga


280 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138632257
pub: 2019-05-15
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This book considers Thorstein Veblen’s central preoccupation with the dark places of business enterprise, an integral part of the old institutional economics. Combining the contributions made by Karl William Kapp and Philip Mirowski, it proposes the systematization of an adjourned institutional theory of social costs of business enterprise useful for the analysis of contemporary crises.

The Dark Places of Business Enterprise explores the research potential of the theory of social costs for the analysis of actual business behavior in the current globalized privatization regime. It begins with a detailed outline of Veblen’s critique of business enterprise and market competition before illustrating the methodical enrichment of this approach through Kapp’s work. Finally, it concludes by proposing the integration of the Veblenian-Kappian approach with Mirowski’s theory of markets and business doubt manufacture. The resulting theory of social costs will shed light on the ubiquitous business control of society under the now dominant computer-based technological infrastructure.

This interdisciplinary foundation of the theory of social costs, encompassing knowledge from computer science and engineering to natural sciences, provides the tools required to analyse this great transformation.


"The strength of institutional economics is its ability to show how industries profit by shifting costs to society. These social costs of capitalism create the crises of today and should be front and centre in every debate.", Sebastian Berger, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), UK

Table of Contents


Introduction: Critical institutionalism, market model failure and the business control of society through cybernetic manipulation

1. Veblen’s dark places of business enterprise and the theory of social costs

2. Karl William Kapp’s critical theory of social costs: Asset-specific cost-shifting, retardation of efficiency and the paradox of social control

3. Neoclassical economics beyond externalities?: Akerlof and Shiller’s Phishing for Phools and the theory of social costs

4. Digging into the dark places of business enterprise: Revisiting the theory of social costs in the light of Mirowski’s institutional economics of knowledge

5. The darkest place of business enterprise: Business surveillance, the financial crisis and the swansong of the market in the information age


About the Authors

Pietro Frigato received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Pisa, Italy. He has published multiple papers on the subject of social costs in international peer-reviewed journals and edited two books on the topic for Routledge.

Francisco J. Santos Arteaga is Assistant Professor at the Free University of Bolzano, Italy, and researcher in the International Business and Markets Group at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. He has published extensively in the areas of decision theory and operations research.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism of mainstream economics. This has taken many forms, from methodological critiques of its excessive formalism, to concern about its failure to connect with many of the most pressing social issues. This series provides a forum for research which is developing alternative forms of economic analysis. Reclaiming the traditional 'political economy' title, it refrains from emphasising any single school of thought, but instead attempts to foster greater diversity within economics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History