Geoffrey Hodgson
Geoffrey Hodgson
Born28 July 1946
Academic career
FieldInstitutional economics, History of economic thought
School or
Institutional economics
InfluencesThorstein Veblen
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Geoffrey Martin Hodgson (born 28 July 1946, Watford)[1] is Emeritus Professor in Management at the London campus of Loughborough University, and also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics.

Hodgson is recognised as one of the leading figures of modern critical institutionalism which carries forth the critical spirit and intellectual tradition of the founders of institutional economics, particularly that of Thorstein Veblen. His broad research interests span from evolutionary economics and history of economic thought to Marxism and theoretical biology. He first became known for his book Economics and Institutions: A Manifesto for a Modern Institutional Economics (1988), which criticises modern 'mainstream' economics and calls to revise economic theory on the new grounds of institutionalism. His reputation has become enhanced owing to the trilogy of more recent books – Economics and Utopia (1999), How Economics Forgot History (2001) and The Evolution of Institutional Economics (2004) all of which built Hodgson's arguments into a more rounded and powerful critique of mainstream economic theory.

In 1988, Hodgson was involved in setting up the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE). He was its general secretary until 1998. In 2000 Hodgson co-founded The Other Canon, a center and network for heterodox economics research, with main founder and executive chairman Erik Reinert and others.[2] In 2013, Hodgson co-founded the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR).[3] In his 2015 book "Conceptualizing Capitalism" and an article entitled "Legal Institutionalism",[4] he sketched his own research program of a legal institutionalism.

Institutions according to Hodgson

According to Hodgson, institutions are the stuff of social life. He defines them in a 2006 article by saying that institutions are "the systems of established and prevalent social rules that structure social interaction". Examples of institutions may be language, money, law, systems of weights and measures, table manners and organisations (for example firms). Conventions, that may be included in law, can be regarded to be institutions as well (Hodgson, 2006, p. 2).

What Hodgson considers important about institutions is the way that they structure social life and frame our perceptions and preferences. They also create stable expectations. He argues that: "Generally, institutions enable ordered thought, expectation, and action by imposing form and consistency on human activities". Consequently, institutions enable as well as constrain action.

Hodgson regards institutions as systems of rules. Broadly understood a rule is "a socially transmitted and customary normative injunction or immanently normative disposition, that in circumstances X do Y" (Hodgson, 2006, p. 3). This means that to be effective a rule has to be embedded in dispositions or habits. Mere decrees are not necessarily rules in this sense. Habits and customs help to give a normative status to a legal rule that can help a new law to become effective. In the process of social interaction norms are constantly changed (Hodgson, 2006, pp. 3–4)



  1. ^ "Geoffrey Hodgson | University of Hertfordshire -". Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Founding members of The Other Canon". Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2009.
  3. ^ World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR)
  4. ^ Deakin, Simon and Gindis, David and Hodgson, Geoffrey M. and Kainan, Huang and Pistor, Katharina, Legal Institutionalism: Capitalism and the Constitutive Role of Law (April 30, 2015). Journal of Comparative Economics, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2017; University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 26/2015 . Available at SSRN: or