Economics Dictionary of Arguments

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Historical contingency: Historical contingency refers to the idea that historical events are influenced by random or unpredictable factors that allow for alternative developments. It describes the idea that the occurrence of certain events in history is not inevitable or deterministic, but dependent on various circumstances and decisions. See also History, Historiography, Contingency, Necessity, Chance.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

James A. Robinson on Historical Contingency - Dictionary of Arguments

Acemoglu I 110
Historical Contingency/Acemoglu/Robinson: The outcomes of the events during critical junctures are shaped by the weight of history, as existing economic and political institutions shape the balance of power and delineate what is politically feasible. The outcome, however, is not historically predetermined but contingent. The exact path of institutional development during these periods depends on which one of the opposing forces will succeed, which groups will be able to form effective coalitions, and which leaders will be able to structure events to their advantage. >Critical junctures/Acemoglu
, >Institutional drift/Acemoglu, >Path dependence.
E.g., The role of contingency can be illustrated by the origins of inclusive political institutions in England. Not only was there nothing preordained in the victory of the groups vying for limiting the power of the Crown and for more pluralistic institutions in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, but the entire path leading up to this political revolution was at the mercy of contingent events. The victory of the winning groups was inexorably linked to the critical juncture created by the rise of Atlantic trade that enriched and emboldened merchants opposing the Crown. But a century earlier it was far from obvious that England would have any ability to dominate the seas (...).
Acemoglu I 111
Critical Junctures: There should be no presumption that any critical juncture will lead to a successful political revolution or to change for the better.
Acemoglu I 116
There is a tendency to see historical events as the inevitable consequences of deep-rooted forces. While we place great emphasis on how the history of economic and political institutions creates vicious and virtuous circles, contingency, as we have emphasized in the context of the development of English institutions, can always be a factor.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconRobin I
James A. Robinson
James A. Acemoglu
Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty New York 2012

Acemoglu II
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy Cambridge 2006

Acemoglu I
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty New York 2012

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