Violence and the Rise of Open-Access Orders

Issue Date January 2009
Volume 20
Issue 1
Page Numbers 55-68
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The problem of controlling the use of force and those who are best at wielding it is foundational to human collective life. For most of history, a social order that was relatively “closed” has seemed the most natural way to manage this problem. But over the past century or two, a transition from closed- to open-access orders has led to the emergence of societies with widespread political participation, the use of elections to select governments, constitutional arrangements to limit and define the powers of government, and unbiased application of the rule of law.

About the Authors

Douglass C. North

Douglass C. North is professor of economics, Washington University–St. Louis, a Nobel laureate in that discipline, and senior fellow, Hoover Institution.

View all work by Douglass C. North

John Joseph Wallis

John Joseph Wallis is professor of economics, University of Maryland, and research associate, National Bureau of Economic Research.

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Barry R. Weingast

Barry R. Weingast is Ward C. Kreps Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University, and senior fellow, Hoover Institution. This essay draws on the authors’ book Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

View all work by Barry R. Weingast