The Hayekian Family

One of the thinest spots in the classical liberal corpus is the role of the family in a free society. Steven Horwitz steps up to offer us “The Functions of the Family in the Great Society.” [pdf]

ABSTRACT. Criticisms by Hodgson and others that Hayek and other Austrians cannot offer a theory of the family are responded to with a discussion of the functions of the family in a market society. The family can be understood as a bridge between what Hayek terms ‘organisations’, or face-to-face social institutions and ‘orders’, or the anonymous social institutions of the Great Society. The family’s necessary role is then linked to familiar Hayekian themes of knowledge and incentives. Families help us to learn the explicit and tacit social rules necessary for functioning in the wider world, and families are uniquely positioned to do so, because it is those closest to us who have the knowledge and incentives necessary to provide that learning.

Looks like good stuff.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center