Custom is important in moulding social and economic interaction. It eases them in some dimensions and constrains them in others. A widespread view of custom is to interpret it as a self‐sustaining system of conventions. The view presented here goes further and accounts for the behavioural impact of custom beyond competitive success. The theory proposed is neither ‘economistic’ in the sense of looking only for external instrumental reasons for the growth and decay of customs, nor ‘culturalistic’ in the sense of exclusively emphasizing cognitive and emotional regularities that bring about custom. Rather, it views custom as flowing from fundamental cognitive, emotional, and behavioural dispositions of human beings, thereby integrating economistic and culturalistic aspects.
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