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Title The Place of Conventional Economics in a World with Communities and Social Goods
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Publication Date
University/Publisher University of Gothenburg / Göteborgs Universitet
Abstract Paper 1: Should Deliveries of Used Clothes to LDCs Be Supported? This is the journal version of a study of the worldwide used-clothes trade – with focus on Sweden’s participation in it – undertaken for Sida (the Swedish foreign aid agency). We looked at both theoretical and empirical effects of the commercial used-clothes trade, and at the effects of subsidizing it. We basically concluded that, while markets work, there was no need to subsidize them under normal conditions because – even given the goal of helping the poor – there might well be better uses of the money. There might be an argument for subsidized used-clothes exports in dealing with an emergency where supply had broken down, but even then most NGOs prefer to supply new clothes. Paper 2: A Model of Dynamic Balance Among the Three Spheres of Society – Markets, Governments, and Communities – Applied to Understanding the Relative Importance of Social Capital and Social Goods This paper revisits old questions of the proper subject and bounds of economics: Does economics study “provisioning”? or markets? or a method of reasoning, self-interested rational optimization? A variety of scholars and others in many fields make use of a taxonomy of society consisting of three “spheres”: markets, governments, and communities. It is argued here that this tripartite taxonomy of society is fundamental and exhaustive. A variety of ways of understanding this taxonomy are explored, especially Fiske’s (1991, 2004) Relational Models theory. Then – after communities and their products, social goods, are defined more thoroughly – a visual model of interactions among the three spheres is presented. The model is first used briefly to understand the historical development of markets. The model is then applied to understanding how economic thinking and market ideology, including the notion of social capital, can be destructive of communities and their production of social goods (and their production of social capital as well). It’s not possible to measure these effects monetarily, so calculating precisely “how this affects results” in a standard economic model is impossible. Nevertheless we could better prepare students for real-world analysis, and better serve our clients, including the public, if – whenever relevant, such as in textbook introductions and in benefit/cost analyses – we made them aware of the limitations of economic analysis with respect to communities and social goods. The three-spheres model offered here, based on Fiske’s Relational Models theory, facilitates this awareness. Paper 3: Assumption without Representation: The Unacknowledged Abstraction from Communities and Social Goods This paper repeats a lot of the same information and argument as in Paper 2, in abbreviated form, before exploring the multitude of methodological problems caused by the unacknowledged abstraction from communities and social goods and suggesting remedies, as well as benefits to be derived from applying those remedies. Paper 4: Markets, Governments – and Communities! This paper again…
Subjects/Keywords assumptions; communities; general equilibrium; meta-economic efficiency; relational models theory; separability; social capital; social goods; social sphere; three spheres; universal markets; used clothes
Language en
Country of Publication se
Record ID handle:2077/29088
Other Identifiers 978-91-85169-67-2; 1651-4289; 1651-4297
Repository goteborg
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2020-01-03

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…engineering, as though the truth were known, and we just needed to learn it and apply it. The overall feeling I got was that (with exceptions) markets worked – and we needed to understand the theory why. I came to believe, however, that for many…

…purposes we would be better to adopt an opposite perspective, that although markets can work perfectly in theory, the theoretical conditions for “perfect markets” are never completely met in practice, so we need to understand all the ways in which markets…

…to make sense of it. That changed when I found anthropologist Alan Fiske’s “relational models” (RM) theory and decided that I could understand the three spheres in those terms and could model interactions among the spheres. At that point I…

…same Appendix (summarizing an Arrow paper) is attached to Papers 2, 3, and 4, repeated only because the papers are presented as published. I sum up Papers 2-4 in this “elevator talk”: Economic theory analyzes markets – but fails to consider…

…neighborhoods, and religious groups – affect markets, as in the recent bubble and crash, driven by crowd behavior. And markets affect communities, as when a big-box department store opens near a small town, and the town center dies. Economic theory also affects…

…communities, by analyzing them as markets based on self-interest – which ignores and undermines the sense of identity, justice, and fairness that defines communities. I have been working on how communities and markets (and economic theory) interact…

…utility to us, and are affected by markets (as well as affecting them) and, as noted, are even affected by economic theory. Courtesy of Fiske – who described four fundamental relationship models or modes at a micro level – there is a simple…

…a journal of methodology, or history of theory, or philosophy of economics (I don’t remember which of those three I sent to first). They responded that the paper seemed more appropriate for either of the other two. When I sent it to another…

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