The Evolutionary Origins of Markets: How Evolution, Psychology and Biology Have Shaped the Economy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Evolutionary Origins of Markets

How Evolution, Psychology and Biology Have Shaped the Economy, 1st Edition

By Rojhat Avşar


136 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-11-25
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Our elaborate market exchange system owes its existence not to our calculating brain or insatiable self-centeredness, but rather to our sophisticated and nuanced human sociality and to the inherent rationality built into our emotions. The modern economic system is helped a lot more than hindered by our innate social instincts that support our remarkable capacity for building formal and informal institutions.

The book integrates the growing body of experimental evidence on human nature scattered across a variety of disciplines from experimental economics to social neuroscience into a coherent and original narrative about the extent to which market (or impersonal exchange) relations are reflective of the basic human sociality that was originally adapted to a more tribal existence.

An accessible resource, this book will appeal to students of all areas of Economics, including Behavioral Economics and Neuro-Economics, Microeconomics, and Political Economy.


"An important further step in the unification of diverse approaches into a coherent, consilient social exchange science." - Gerald A. Cory Jr., Author, Former Senior Fellow, San Jose State University, USA

"The current cutting-edge fields of evolutionary and complexity sciences, cognitive, neuro, brain and behavioural sciences, biological analogies, Institutionalism, Socio-Economics, and the different related computational strands, still are often only loosely connected. Those working in these fields will find this book providing a major step forward by integrating our knowledge on the evolution of human sociality, its cognitive, emotive, and behavioral foundations. While the literature in these fields has been exploding, here we have a most welcome integrating transdisciplinary work. Applying these stocks of knowledge to the foundations and evolution of "markets", socio-economists and social scientists of all perspectives will find how to make deeper sense of what we have used to call the social and institutional "embeddedness of markets". A highly recommended book. " Prof. Wolfram Elsner, University of Bremen, Germany

Table of Contents

Introduction, Part I: Social Brain, Chapter 1: The Myth of The Dissociative Identities, Chapter 2: Why Wouldn’t Chimpanzees Wear Sunglasses While Playing Poker? Part II: Economizing Brain, Chapter 3: Cognitively Lazy, Chapter 4: Emotionally Smart, Part III: Interactive Minds, Chapter 5: Reciprocal brain, Chapter 6: Mind Reading, Part IV: Key Innate Competencies, Chapter 7: Emotional path to willpower, Chapter 8: Sapiens See, Sapiens Do (Monkey? Not So Much.), Part V: Pursuit of Identities, Tribes, and Emotional Connections, Chapter 9: Human Sociality in the Market, Epilogue, Index

About the Author

Rojhat Avsar is an associate professor of economics at Columbia College Chicago. His research and teaching interests include social behavior, ethical norms, economic discourse, origin of human institutions, and political economy.

About the Series

Economics as Social Theory

Social Theory is experiencing something of a revival within economics. Critical analyses of the particular nature of the subject matter of social studies and of the types of method, categories and modes of explanation that can legitimately be endorsed for the scientific study of social objects, are re-emerging. Economists are again addressing such issues as the relationship between agency and structure, between economy and the rest of society, and between the enquirer and the object of enquiry. There is a renewed interest in elaborating basic categories such as causation, competition, culture, discrimination, evolution, money, need, order, organization, power probability, process, rationality, technology, time, truth, uncertainty, value etc.

The objective for this series is to facilitate this revival further. In contemporary economics the label “theory” has been appropriated by a group that confines itself to largely asocial, ahistorical, mathematical “modelling”. Economics as Social Theory thus reclaims the “Theory” label, offering a platform for alternative rigorous, but broader and more critical conceptions of theorizing.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Microeconomics
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory