Janet T. Landa


In the "New Chicago School" ("NCS") law and economics literature that emerged in the 1990s, social norms play an important function in their dual role as constraints on behavior and as signaling devices. Missing in the NCS social norms literature, however, is any treatment of social norms as classification, a concept which is fundamental to a more complete theory of social norms. In this Article, I show that my early 1980s theory of social norms embedded in the ethnically homogeneous middleman groups ("EHMGs") clearly falls squarely within the NCS tradition. Since the 1980s, I have extended my law and economics analysis of social norms as classification. The concept of social norms-as-classification is further expanded in a law and bioeconomics of EHMGs as "adaptive units" viewed from a multilevel evolutionary perspective. The expanded theory of social norms links together the disparate social science disciplines of economics, law, sociology, anthropology, political science, evolutionary psychology and beyond to evolutionary biology and bioeconomics. By providing evidence of EHMGs functioning as adaptive units, I provided a very rare and important empirical example in support of "group selection theory" in the field of evolutionary biology. The expanded theory of social norms has theoretical and policy implications for understanding minority middleman success in various parts of the world, changing identities and formation of new identities, racial discrimination, racial profiling, ethnic cooperation, interethnic conflict, and international terrorism.

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