John Wallis
University of Maryland



(Monday, 18th May 2009)

Title : Violence and Social Orders

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The problem of social order is often approached as a problem of credible commitment between a protector, i.e. the state, and a group of citizens. What happens to this analysis when we consider that the protectors are always a group, never an individual, and ask how the organization of violence within the coalition of protectors affects how societies work? The answers give us a new perspective on the problems of economic development and suggest a new way to think about how modern societies emerged two hundred years ago.

Bibliographical references :

Douglass North, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast, Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

North, Wallis, and Weingast, “Violence and the Rise of Open-Access Orders.” Journal of Democracy, 20(1), January 2009, pp. 55-68.

North, Wallis, Webb, and Weingast. “Limited Access Orders: Rethinking the Problems of Development and Violence.” Manuscript, 2009.

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(Wednesday, 20th May 2015)

Title : Governments, Rules, and Organizations

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I will talk about how societies coordinate through rules. Governments are usually defined as organizations with a comparative advantage in violence (North, 1981). Government rules are critical because they can be coercively enforced. But we know that in many societies governments do not possess a comparative in violence. How do we think about governments then? I present an alternative concept of government: government as the organization that publicly signifies agreements. Governments are organizations that coordinate, rather than coerce. Rules then are based on the value of coordination, not the threat of coercion.
CNRS Chaire GovReg Europe