The Association for Institutional Thought

Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT)

The Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT) is an organization devoted to encouraging and fostering the development of institutional thought in extension and modification of the contributions of Thorstein Veblen, John Dewey, Clarence Ayres, John Commons, Wesley Mitchell and others. They offer their ideas and the ideas of other Institutionalists as a basis for inquiry into the interrelationships of society.  AFIT was officially organized on April 27, 1979 at the 21st annual conference of the Western Social Science Association.

Call for Papers

Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT) 2019 Conference

The 40th Annual Meeting of AFIT is scheduled for April 24-27, 2019 in San Diego, California, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in conjunction with the 61st Annual WSSA Conference.

Our Conference Theme
40 Years of AFIT:
A Time for Reflection and Renewal
(Deadline: December 1, 2018)

The Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT) invites you to submit papers and/or propose full session panels that examine the role of institutions in human society. As AFIT celebrates its 40th anniversary, we reflect on the relevance of the old institutional approach, methods, standards, and insights while exploring new theoretical developments and applications. Do you have a research paper that would fit within the confines of this broad tradition?

We encourage papers and sessions that (1) demonstrate how institutionalist and evolutionary approaches/concepts can be used to answer important economic questions, (2) offer theoretical developments and applications, (3) address serious methodological issues, and (4) show how institutional issues can be incorporated into the teaching of economics.

More specifically, we encourage submissions that tackle the following complex and challenging issues:

  • Sharing economy and flexible work arrangements
  • Automation, technological unemployment, and income inequality
  • Unequal access to justice (e.g. arbitration laws)
  • Consumption, identity, and class
  • Racial, gender, and class inequalities
  • Global warming and environmental justice
  • Financialization and predatory lending practices
  • Cultural evolution
  • Discourse, religion, and democracy
  • Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)

There are many more relevant and compelling issues beyond the list above. All proposals for papers and sessions reflecting the traditional and analytical perspectives represented by the Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT) will be given serious consideration.

The conference is also receptive to proposals for panels that review and discuss books recently published, especially by AFIT members. We also welcome papers/sessions dealing with pedagogy: particularly those that offer innovative approaches to teaching politically sensitive/controversial issues (e.g. wealth, income, race, and gender inequality) and those that offer to incorporate institutionalism into economics curriculum effectively.

As always, AFIT encourages proposals from undergraduate and graduate students, and AFIT sponsors prizes for outstanding student papers.

For those who may be unfamiliar with institutional economics, Institutionalists see Homo sapiens as social animals that are strongly influenced by culture and the values underpinning it. Humans strive not only for basic material needs, but also for status among our peers. These pursuits are guided by institutions that we often describe as socially-sanctioned behaviors that include an enforcement mechanism. For example, consumption behavior—say, the purchase of a new BMW— is framed not as a process of an agent maximizing utility subject to some budget constraint. Instead it is examined within its social context and by the ways in this purchase serves to display one’s status and economic prowess.

The format of the 2019 conference panels does not include discussants; at AFIT sessions we seek more general discussion on the papers presented. However, if you organize a panel, and you find it necessary to designate discussants, you are welcome to do so. Proposals for complete sessions are strongly encouraged. All papers and proposals for the AFIT sessions must be submitted via the WSSA website no later than December 1, 2018 at: under the “Sections & Affiliates” tab. Please keep abstracts to 200 words or less. Participants should update their membership in AFIT, if they are not already members.

Online conference registration: opens on the WSSA website, under

“Conferences” tab, on the ‘Registration” link, after August 1, 2018. Online hotel registration: opens on the WSSA website under the “Conferences” tab, on the “Registration” link, after October 1, 2018.

Submitters will need to provide the following:

  • Name and affiliation of each presenter,
  • Email address,
  • Paper title,
  • Abstract not to exceed 200 words, and
  • An optional upload link to attach the document or paper.

The submission deadline is: December 1, 2018.  

For more information about AFIT, you are invited to visit our website at:

If you have general queries regarding the conference, please contact the conference organizer and Vice President of AFIT, Reynold F. Nesiba at Reynold.Nesiba@Augie.Edu