Gunnar Myrdal revisited: Cumulative causation, accumulation and legitimisation

By Guglielmo Forges Davanzati

PKES Working Paper 1105

August 2011
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The aim of this paper is to provide a reconstruction of Myrdal’s analysis of the factors determining the path of accumulation, in view of the pivotal role played by political institutions in promoting it. It will be shown that Myrdal’s theory of cumulative causation, combined with his idea that consensus on the existing social order is a “created harmony”, is a powerful analytical tool in understanding a key contradiction of capitalist reproduction (particularly in a neo-liberal regime): namely the trade-off between accumulation and legitimisation.

Keywords: Gunnar Myrdal, accumulation, welfare state, political institutions

JEL classification: B25 E25 H11