The Emergence of Individual Rights

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Discusses factors leading to the government institutionalization of individual property rights. Although previous theorists have hypothesized that property rights emerge as the result of moral requirements, it is argued that these rights are the product of desires to improve the productivity & wealth of individuals &, thereby, the government. Individual rights institutions evolve in environments characterized by conflict between the old agents of control & agents seeking changes in old institutions. Since society without rules leads to unproductive & unregulated conflict, governments support individual rights to enhance productivity, which allows government to advance its own power through increased taxes & other forms of support. Drawing on a game-theoretic model of government-enforced individual rights, it is concluded that law enforcement policies must be known to society to maintain the government monopoly of rights & achieve the desired ends associated with such rights granting. In an environment with incomplete information, governments may fail to grant necessary rights or grant rights that undermine their own goals. 2 Tables, 1 Appendix. T. Sevier
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExplaining social institutions
EditorsJack Knight, Itai Sened
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)0472105884
StatePublished - 1995


  • individual property rights, government institutionalization/enforcement, game-theoretic model
  • Game Theory
  • Productivity
  • Rights
  • Institutionalization (Social)
  • Civil Rights
  • State Society Relationship
  • Property Rights
  • Institutions
  • State Role
  • bookitem
  • 0925: political sociology/interactions; sociology of political systems, politics, & power


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