Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

The economy as a collective process and its origins

Perrotta Cosimo, University of Salento

This paper tries to show that mankind, since its origins, has organised production for the group’s collective survival, through collective work and the division of labour. The paper explores how homo sapiens started this activity and stresses that the collective nature of the economy has always been kept in the following economic systems up to now, capitalism included. Certainly capitalism gives much importance to subjective initiative, but the valorisation of individual, far from deriving from a marginalisation of collective economic activities, is due to a decisive engagement of institutions for development. Individual central role in the economy is not given by nature. It is the result of a gradual economic and cultural progress. On the other hand, institutions are not born, solely or principally, to increase market efficiency. They are collective structures of cooperation which, in democracy, aim at society’s welfare through wealth production and other ways.


Keywords: collective production - paleolithic period - individual economy - institutions