This paper explores the Newtonian roots of Adam Smith’s thinking in the structural dynamics of the production system and of social organization at large. Newton’s Principia Mathematica inspired a philosophical movement in Scotland that looked for principles that could explain the dynamics of social and economic bodies with the same scientific rigour. In Smith’s account, the sources of structural economic dynamics lie in the actors’ capacity to organise production within that domain of interaction of competing forces that he defines as the market. Against this background, Smith analyses the role of the institutional setup. This conceptual framework is central to the theory of structural dynamics in classical political economy. It highlights a possible avenue along which to investigate Pasinetti’s distinction between the ‘natural’ (production-based) and the ‘institutional’ levels of analysis (Pasinetti’s separation theorem) by exploring the dynamic interdependence of technological and institutional drives in the emerging new industrial revolution.
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