Culture and Fairness in the Development of Institutions in the California Gold Fields

  title={Culture and Fairness in the Development of Institutions in the California Gold Fields},
  author={Richard O. Zerbe and Clinton L. Anderson},
  journal={Cultural Anthropology eJournal},
Earlier accounts of the creation of property rights in the California gold fields ignored culture and are incomplete. We argue that culture matters in solving collective-action problems. Such problems in the California gold fields were solved through reliance on cultural focal points. Focal points included individualism, equality, respect for property, and rewards commensurate to work. Cultural concepts of fairness served to create norms and institutions that miners were willing to defend… 
Law without the State
Most social scientists take for granted that law is defined by the presence of a centralized authority capable of exacting coercive penalties for violations of legal rules. Moreover, the existing
Immigration, Exclusion, and Taxation: Anti-Chinese Legislation in Gold Rush California
Historical scholarship on the politics of nineteenth-century Chinese immigration emphasizes the interests of labor and management in the genesis of congressional legislation in 1882 that limited
Keeping Vigil: The Emergence of Vigilance Committees in Pre-Civil War America
What explains the emergence of organized private enforcement in the United States? We study the formation of vigilance committees—that is, coercive groups organized in a manner not officially
Order Without Law? Property Rights During the California Gold Rush
The paper reconsiders the nature of mining districts and property rights during the California gold rush. According to a widely accepted view advanced by Umbeck (1977, 1981), in the absence of
Real Property, Spontaneous Order, and Norms in the Gold Mines
This article contributes to the current debate about why people follow the law even when they are not subject to legal sanctions, as when there are no police and little danger of a lawsuit. Most
Conflict-Inhibiting Norms
1 Introduction How do individuals limit conflict in the absence of state-made law and order? Economists have focused their energies on analyzing decision making and interaction in the context of
Cooperation and conflict : Evidence on self- enforcing arrangements and heterogeneous groups
A conventional wisdom in the literature contends that without a system of formal enforcement, heterogeneous groups are unable to peacefully interact for mutual benefit and are prone to eruptions of
A Hollow Cultural Core? An Inquiry into New Institutional Approaches to Incentive Based Regulation
Abstract The trans-disciplinary New Institutional framework identifies the importance of incentive structures in preventing opportunism in market making. In recent decades this theoretical tradition
Scholars argue that violence will not occur in the presence of efficient property rights institutions. Empirical evidence from the Riverina district in New South Wales between 1855 and 1870
Self-enforcing arrangements in African political economy


The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of the Law
This paper develops a game-theoretic approach to the problem of political officials' respect for political and economic rights of citizens. It models the policing of rights as a coordination problem
Organizational justice: The search for fairness in the workplace.
Some managers conduct inconsistant performance reviews, pay inequitable salaries, and dismiss employees arbitrarily. Concerns about justice are pervasive in the workplace: they arise whenever rules
The Evolution of Property Rights
A model of the "optimal commons" shows how property tenures result from the interaction of transactions costs among those people using a resource in common and the costs of excluding noncommoners.
Regulatory Culture: A Theoretical Outline
This paper connects the idea of culture to some central problems in the broader realm of socio-legal discourse about regulation, discretion, indeterminacy, and collective choice. Culture has become a
Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics
The advantages and disadvantages of expanding the standard economic model by more realistic behavioral assumptions have received much attention. The issue raised in this article is whether it is
Political Economy of Fairness
How should the government balance the aims of justice and economic efficiency when intervening in the economy? In Political Economy of Fairness Edward Zajac seeks not only to raise the level of the
Fairness in Majority Rule Games with a Core
Empirical studies of Congress indicate a preference for oversized or nearly unanimous coalitions, especially in the area of distributive policymaking. This norm of "something for everyone" is
What is procedural justice? Criteria used by citizens to assess the fairness of legal procedures.
This paper examines procedural justice in the context of citizen experiences with the police and courts. It is based on interviews of 652 citizens with recent personal experiences involving those
Economic Variables and the Development of the Law: The Case of Western Mineral Rights
  • G. Libecap
  • Economics, History
    The Journal of Economic History
  • 1978
Much of American legal activity during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries centered on the transfer of a continent of natural resources—agricultural land, water, timber, mineral deposits—from