Through a model that distinguishes between privately-held and publicly-declared
preferences, and between private and public beliefs, this paper explains
why a society might cling to its past choices. All four variables are endogenous
to the model. Following the introduction of a measure of collective conservatism,
the paper turns to the determinants and consequences of feedback from society's
choices to its members' private beliefs and preferences. The theory is
applied to the persistence of India's caste system to explain why the lowest
castes have been among the system's most committed supporters.
Economic Journal, 97 (September 1987): 642-665.