The Cultural Setting: Patronage and Rent-Seeking

  • Shahid Ahmed


Nothing happens in society without a prior chain of causation. The overwhelming influence in the chain is that of culture which itself is the product of decades of change and evolution in the face of myriad physical and non-physical challenges. Within the parameters set by culture, understanding why individuals behave in certain ways tells us much about the collective attitudes and predilections of society at any given time. In Economics textbooks, this has been explained by the utility maximization theorem. According to this theorem, similar to investors seeking to maximize profits, individuals seek to maximize utility in their daily lives as they conceive it. Utility need not necessarily mean maximizing income and the acquisition of material goods alone. It can include altruistic activities like voluntary work or community service, as well as preferring leisure or free time to pursue hobbies to extra income. It is hardly worth stressing that maximizing utility for those in the upper decile of the population would have an entirely different meaning than for those in the bottom quintile. For the latter, physical survival would take precedence over everything else, certainly in a developing country. However, what the theorem suggests more generally is that individuals can be incentivized in different ways, that is, with monetary and non-monetary rewards, to maximize their utility.


Private Sector Cultural Setting Electricity Sector World Economic Forum British Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    For a discussion, see Daniel Thorner’s ‘The transformation of the rural economy’ in The Economic Development of India before 1947 in The Encyclopedia Americana, 1960.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Shahid Ahmed 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shahid Ahmed
    • 1
  1. 1.United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the PacificBangkokThailand

Personalised recommendations