Surplus Approach and Institutions: Where Sraffa Meets Polanyi

CSWP 61 (April 2023)

Author Sergio Cesaratto

Keywords Surplus; Economic History; Institutions; Marx; Sraffa; Polanyi

JEL A12; B51; B52

Relying on anthropological and archaeological research based on the notion of social surplus, and on the lessons of Marx, Polanyi, Sraffa and Garegnani, the paper argues that the classical surplus approach is naturally associated with institutional and historical analysis. The concept of social surplus is a skeleton which is given muscles by institutional analysis while the latter would be enervated if not anchored to a base of ultimate material interests. Institutions should be looked at in relation to the extraction and distribution of the social surplus and the resulting inequality and social conflict. The paper offers a novel Post Keynesian view of institutions in an interdisciplinary perspective.

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