Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Dueling for honor and identity economics

Hassani Mahmooei, Behrooz and Vahabi, Mehrdad (2012): Dueling for honor and identity economics.

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Dueling is one of the best indicators of political transition from anarchy to order. This paper explores the dynamics of dueling for honor as a social institution in England, France, and Germany. It identifies major differences regarding the frequency, duration, and nature of dueling. Although dueling for honor emerged as a self-organizing and self-regulatory collective action of the aristocracy in crisis, it transformed into a middle class institution in France and Germany. However, this institution suddenly ended in England around 1850. In this study, we will follow a cognitive version of identity economics to explain the emergence of this institution, and its divergent trajectories in these countries in terms of identity choice. We will argue that while dueling is an identity investment, it might have different values according to its diverse social meanings. We will show that different social meanings that were attached to dueling in England, France and Germany gave rise to different values in identity investment, and led to different results in enhancing social identities.

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