SOC 316 Week 9 Notes
SOC 316 Week 9 Notes SOC 316 - Pfaff
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SOC 316 - Pfaff
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Lucas Reller on Thursday March 5, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 316 - Pfaff at University of Washington taught by Pfaff in Winter2015. Since its upload, it has received 223 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociological Theory in Sociology at University of Washington.
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Date Created: 03/05/15
Lecture 15 Can SelfInterested People Achieve the Common Good FreeRiding Social Capital and the Problem of Collective Action 0 Olson 0 Olson takes up a key question in sociological theory is an objective material group interest a sufficient basis for collective action o It is often taken for granted that people sharing the same interest or the same value will act together to further that interest eg Marx s theory of class conflict Durkheim s normative theory of solidarity Weber s theory of charisma 0 Olson contends that a theory of action based on internalized norms or group composition are mistaken o Rational selfinterested individuals will not act to achieve a group interest that would be shared equally including those that don t contribute 0 Social dilemma 0 Thus there is often a conflict between what would be optimal for individuals and what would be optimal for the group o This freerider problem results in a failure of collective action Why is this First we must define a public good These are goods that are non excludable noncontributors cannot be denied its enjoyment and nonrivalrous no crowding effect Examples are clean air roads public safety etc prone to exploitation by those that don t help provide them but nevertheless use them 0 Olson argues that individuals seek to avoid paying costs for a good that would be shared more or less equally among all group members regardless of contribution 0 Indeed they will be most likely to help to achieve a public good if they are Compensated Coerced o Rivarly and excludability public goods and other goods compared Excludable 7 Nonexcludable Rivalrous Private goods money food Commonscommon pool consumer articles etc 7 resources Nonrivalrous Club goods consumers Public goods roads and cooperative churches business infrastructure public education associations national defense clean air 0 Solutions to the freerider problem o It is more rational for an individual to take a share of an achieved public good without ever making a contribution to providing it This is the freeriderproblem o It is worst where the size of the group is large and there is no coordinating organization to monitor and control contributions 0 Olson argues that a rational actor will be most likely to contribute to collective action when the actor is coerced Hobbesian The actor is compensated through selective incentives or benefits for cooperation that are only available to cooperators 0 Ex through divisible goods Smithian Somebody else subsidizes collective action 0 Ex pays the costs of coordinationorganization or rewards cooperation o How do social groups achieve collective action 0 Through selective incentives that contributors receive but noncontributors do not receive These benefits are additional to whatever utility the public good provides Small group settings Small groups can often overcome the freerider problem because in a small group the costs of monitoring and sanctioning against fraud defection and freeriding are much lower than in large groups Proposition smallscale collective action among intimates is more likely than other kinds of CA The problem with solutions to the freerider problem is that often push back the question ie provision of selective incentives usually requires prior collective action that resulted in an organization or resourceful group Likewise when norms are suggested to deter freeriding one has to ask how were the norms created and maintained Aren t norms against freeriding themselves public goods The implication collective action is far less likely to occur than had generally been acknowledged in sociological theory It casts real doubt on the possibilities of mass mobilization required by the Marxist theory of history and of the consensual integration and valuebased cooperation expected by Durkheimian and Weberian theories But Olson s theory may be overly pessimistic Under some circumstances CA is commonplace Some groups do achieve solidarity Some societies manage to avert tragedy of commons Even so Olson s theory makes it clear that in most cases CA is an achievement not an inevitability Tendency toward freeriding is not a human universal many other people are prone to cooperate especially if they think that others are cooperating and CA will be effective conditional cooperators o Hechter Theory of Group Solidarity 0 Michael Hechter builds upon Olson and Blau to explore the conditions under which groups achieve solidarity Groups exist in order to supply their members with some desired joint good Solidarity is defined the extent to which a group possesses the capacity to act in the collective interest by motivating its members to meet their corporate obligations Following from Olson Hechter argues that a basic fact of social life is a pattern of conflict between what is in the interest of individuals and the interests of groups Group obligations impose costs upon individuals akin to a tax on members Hechter An adequate theory of group solidarity must be able to explain variation in the extensiveness of group obligations and in a group s capacity to induce its members to honor those obligations The extensiveness of obligations is related to the cost of producing goods in the group and people seek out groups that produce the most desirable goods at the lowest level of contribution or price So why do rational individuals take on costs For a reason noted by Blau it is related to their degree of dependence on the group for desired goods Individuals will only accept extensive group obligations where they are highly dependent The more dependent people are the more tax they must pay for access to the same quantity of a given good The relative exit costs of different groups in terms of barriers to exit and availability of alternative suppliers help to determine the level of dependence on the group Declining exist costs mean declining group dependence and thus lower willingness to bear group obligations First condition for group solidarity Dependence O 0 Individual dependence on a given group generally determined by Supply of close substitutes Lack of information about alternatives Costs of moving from one group to another Strength of personal ties to a given group eg degree of encapsulation Some kinds of social change typically reduce dependence by increasing individual independence Extension of individual rights at the expense of group ReDistribution of resources egalitarianism reduces group dependence The problem of compliance 0 O 0000 Dependence on a group may lead individuals to accept corporate obligations but this does not mean that they will follow through on their commitments People who value collective goods produced by the group may still prefer to free or cheap ride If all do so provision of collective good fails So what ensures compliance The monitoring and sanctioning capacity of the group But both can be costly to the group this shows that control is a 2nd order collective good Monitoringsanctioning costs generally lower in small groups and often achieved informally In large groups control is usually delegated to compensate enforcement agents Solidarity can be achieved only by the combined effects of dependence and control Control capacity is vital to the important properties of groups their stability and exclusivity Hechter thus offers some basic propositions Group solidarity increases to the degree that members are dependent on the group for a joint good Group solidarity increases to the extent that member behavior can be controlled Strong groups often mean weak individuals 0 Prospects for solidarity will be maximal in situations where individuals face limited sources of benefits where the opportunities for multiple affiliations are minimal and where their social isolation is extreme Cook Hardin and Levi Cooperation without Law or Trust Are the kinds of social dilemmas identified by Olson insurmountable Two classic answers to the freerider problem are offered by Hobbes the lawgiving and enforcing state Durkheim s theory of trust in organic solidarity But these solutions require conditions that do not obtain in many realworld settings so lacking these macrolevel features is local cooperation possible If actors are willing to cooperate with others to seek individual benefits and wish to avoid the costs of conflict then local order is possible without coercion Given the right incentives actors may behave in a trustworthy way in the absence of established social trust Maybe the key problem isn t freeriding but rather coordination Actors try to assure each other that they will not cheat or defect from a common enterprise by signaling a willingness to comply They can make informal compacts or agreements to follow the rules What makes these compacts credible When compacts are supported by enforceable social norms But norms are public goods only effective if they are backed up by some kind of force or pressure Failure to comply must result in some sort of sanction Yet the problem with sanctions is that they also impose costs which often deters actors from sanctioning the freeriding or defection of others eg government allows most tax fraud to go unpunished most polluters never pay a fine parents often overlook bad behavior by children etc 0 Social capital and collective action 0 ln everyday life social actors have a resource in their social capital Social capital represents social relationships that allow production of desired goods or accomplishment of goals Just as material capital is an input in the production of good social capital is an input in social exchange Social capital works when an actor A can call on another actor B to facilitate an exchange with a third actor that is a potential supplier of a good C In most cases the relationship between A and B is based on either social obligations or payment But note that such exchanges need not be regulated by either legal norms or personal trust between parties 0 Communal norms and cooperation O 0 Social capital can refer to either Social networks that enable action or facilitate exchange quality of usefulness Capacity of a group to act together because of its density reliability mutual obligations etc solidarity Generally speaking rational action theorists expect that the closure of social networks helps to overcome freeriding by monitoring and controlling defection cheating In a closed social network the costs of sanctioning and monitoring are reduced and the incentives for compliance are raised lf social ties are valuable actors will be reluctant to jeopardize them by ignoring group norms o By contrast marginal social positions strangers and outsiders may be poorly regulated Cook Hardin and Levi try to capture this by contrasting the structure of cooperation in small towns versus large cities 0 Idealstructure social structure and norms town and city Villages Cities Social networks are dense local and overlapping Community is stable Norms are general Norm enforcement through violence or exclusion shunning exile etc 0 Social networks are sparse but extensive Population is fluid Norms are specific Norm enforcement through reputation and reciprocity In small town settings trust is unimportant because the enforcement of norms is straightforward where monitoring and sanctioning is easy and norms are agreed upon ln cities by contrast trust is important because monitoring and sanctioning are difficult and there is little normative consensus Trust is possible where Actors have information about others interests Information is available to assess another s character or disposition Actors have an interest in maintaining a reputation for trustworthiness and make moral commitments eg Max Weber s example of US church membership 0 Social change and social cooperation the example of communal lending Q How is economic development possible in societies in which neither the law nor trust are present as in much of the developing world Cook Hardin and Levi point to the rise of communal lending institutions that manage to solve the freerider problem The problem is that conventional banks are unwilling to make unsecured loans to actors lacking collateral But the very problem for the poorest people in the poorest societies is a lack of economic resources that would enable them to enter the market The solution is to create lending institutions in which social capitalfurnishes the collateral and in which members of the community that benefit from the loans enforce repayment There are two organizations that effectively do this Rotating Credit Associations 0 In this model people in need of a loan A join a group which grants them a loan on condition that join the collective that makes loans C Repayment is enforced through the social pressure of other community members B This model relies on some degree of resources being held by established group members little mobility in a group and strong communal ties as to an ethnic or religious group Microlending Banks 0 In this model a person who wants to take out a small loan A forms a collective to vouch for himher to a resourceful sponsoring organization C If the loan is repaid other members of the collective may also take out loans Repayment is thus enforced by other members of the collective that also want to take out loans B This model relies on a resourceful third party to provide loans the bank and on little mobility in the group and strong communal ties 0 Implications O O Q What are the conditions for such pacific and cooperative outcomes ls some minimum level of prior security for each individual still necessary How much coordination and cooperation among a population social capital is necessary to overcome social dilemmas To what extent are solidarity and trust facilitated by a cooperative culture internalization of altruism If these preconditions are necessary how do we move from societies characterized by extreme poverty and mistrust How do we encourage the assertion of individual rights in failed states or states of war Afghanistan Iraq Cote d lvoire etc Is that possible or is the restoration of order by Leviathan all we can expect Lecture 16 Can New Values Transform Society Religion Values and the Rationalization of the World 0 The Protestant Ethic The Book and the Thesis 0 Weber s argument is designed to uncover the religious and cultural origins of the rationalization of society that took place first in Western Europe Weber wishes to explore the advent of industrial capitalism in the West the replacement of traditional economic life with a rationalizing capitalism This means the advent of industrial capitalism rational DOL rational legal authority and applied science displacement of traditional economic life This is a problem that also occupied Marx but Weber s methodological individual leads him to analyze the microlevel motives that could propel macrosociological change The key problem Capitalism defined as business or mercantile endeavors designed to yield profits has existed in various civilizations but industrial capitalism developed autonomously only in the West Why Weber argues the breakthrough to capitalism is associated with behavioral change originating at the microlevel For though the development of economic rationalism is partly dependent on rational technique and law it is at the same time determined by the ability and disposition of men to adopt certain types of practical rational conduct Thus capitalism relies on a change in motives as a result of a shift in values It represents not only an economic revolution but a revolution in ethics And it requires a transformation in the way of life for millions and eventually billions of people In analyzing the effect of changes in cultural values and religious institutions on economic change Weber wishes to overturn what he sees as the one sided materialism of Marx s theory of capitalism Weber argues that in industrial capitalism the aim is not to make a quick fortune retire and consume the luxuries one is able to purchase but rather a longterm accumulation of many small gains from routine economic endeavors The largest profits are made by charging moderate prices in an open marketplace with the aim of establishing steadily increasing market share over time This means a mass marketplace based on large scale production free labor and a fully monetized economy The transition to this economic system relied on a historically unique transformation of values the attitude that hard work frugality thrift saving and self denial are moral obligations It became a sin to waste either time or money to be lazy or idle Weber believed that Western Christianity had thus contributed to the rise of rational capitalism How The Western Roman Catholic Church helped to rationalize law and bureaucracy Protestant reformers sought to abolish magic from everyday life and laying the foundations for a rational and instrumental worldview Protestant reformers introduced the idea of vocation of worldly endeavors and secular work as a God given and sacred duty The Calvinists raised worldly asceticism to the highest demonstration of religious election 0 The spirit of capitalism O Weber wants to show that the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century intentionally unleashed a revolution in values and religious life upon the world Ironically it unintentionally assimilated into a practical rational and calculated orientation to everyday life In this way Protestantism helped to establish the social practices toward time work and profit that animate modern capitalist society eg Franklin s ethics and which in time undermined the role of religion in society For Puritans productivity is regarded as a moral duty However across generations as the religious motives diminish the measure of a man s moral and social standing becomes the size of his bank account visible and material proof of moral stature o Vocation as this worldly activity Martin Luther 0 Part of this new orientation to the world to work and to profit can be traced to Martin Luther s conception of the calling or vocation Luther argued that every occupation or work pleasing to God reflected a religious calling God called the citizen and believer to his work so every kind of work could glorify and please God The priesthood as a spiritual elite is abolished Luther was not calling for capitalism in fact he favored economic traditionalism and wanted people to be obedient to the law of God and the state Obedient believers were assured of grace leading to salvation 0 Election and the uncertainty of salvation Jean Calvin O The next step in the development of the Protestant ethic was the more radical thought of Jean Calvin Calvin developed the notion of election based on double predestination The radical implication of this teaching was that salvation was purely a gift of grace granted by God in advance of every pious action by the sinful believer double predestination Those genuine Christians who were destined for heaven the Elect were chosen not because of their virtue but because of God s inscrutable mercy Weber argues that this left the believer in an intense feeling of spiritual helplessness and psychological isolation No amount of prayer sufficed However lonely terrified believers wanted to find signs of their election if only to reassure themselves that they would not be condemned to hell How did they do this Calvin taught that economy frugality self denial hard work discipline and prudence were all pleasing in the eyes of God and did his will And God favored the faithful Therefore one could both glorify God and reveal one s election by turning religious virtues toward a person s everyday life vocation and business dealings As a result the Puritan redirected his religious energies into worldly affairs The Puritan spirit energized nascent capitalism yielding investment frugality and delayed gratification of desires that helped to energize the economic system and propel economic rationalization Religious energies were unleashed on secular economics Protestant religious ethics animated the spirit of capitalism This spirit relies upon a kind of worldly asceticism routine practices of hard work and self denial as the path to religious jus ca on Restless systematic work in worldly calling combined with sobriety and frugality in private affairs This ethic was the foundation of worldly asceticism which had a strong affinity with the capitalist system As Weber observes When the limitation of consumption is combined with the release of acquisitive activity the inevitable practical result was obvious the accumulation of capital through ascetic compulsion to save Following Calvin Puritan thinkers such as Baxter or the Methodist Wesley feared the consequences of wealth for piety and the godliness of the faithful For the Methodists and the Pietists the wealthy could be protected from the sinful potential of their wealth through the compulsion of charity For them wealth was only held in trust for God But only the virtuous poor should receive charity Ideal type of Calvinism compared with other world religions Roman Catholicism Buddhism Confucianism o Modernity and the iron Cage Over time the ethic secularized so that the rules concerning behavior became generalized as the originally religious motives that inspired them retreated or disappeared The Puritans believed that the individual had to be sober self controlled pious and industrious Puritans despised idleness This was because one s actions should serve the greater purposes of God 0 This ethic inadvertently sponsored the increasing DOL since it increased the efficiency and productivity of work Puritans wanted workers who were systematic and methodical who were continually at work and not allowed to engage in sinful idleness Likewise high wages for workers only encouraged sin so frugality and profit taking was justified The ethic was originally religious but at the same time utilitarian Once the religious motives became irrelevant it was already too late to reverse the order an economy governed by instrumental rationality had already come into being Worldly asceticism thus provided a religious justification for the social and economic disruption that came with the increasing division of labor and the resulting increases in wealth and poveny Yet Puritan ethics also had democratic consequences For Protestants all were equal in the eyes of God there was no longer aristocratic privilege only virtue The Puritan used their middle class religious morality and practical ethics against both the old aristocratic elites to demand equality and against the poor to demand greater industry and self reliance At its worst the Puritan code lead to a smug selfsatisfied morality As it secularized the ethic sponsored the self satisfied frugal acquisitive attitude Weber found in his own day among the Protestant middle classes Hard work originally a Puritan injunction to virtue was universalized in the capitalist economy as a way to get ahead thus it was the ghost of dead beliefs that animated the capitalist machinery o Ideology and social change 0 Weber argues that the unleashed forces of reason and human effort created a more efficient and prosperous economy the first selfsustaining system of economic growth in world history lndeed an economy so successful so productive of wealth that no one could any longer escape it or stand outside of it The marketplace enveloped society In this more rational and prosperous world individuals found themselves trapped within a world of unceasing labor and service not to God but to their own increasing material interest Weber argues that the spirit of capitalism escaped the moral bonds of Protestantism leaving behind a secularized shell of worldly asceticism Now wealth and acquisition became an end unto itself no longer justifying itself morally as service to God Service to selfish interests so long as they were rationally pursued became a legitimate end in itself 0 Ideology and micro mechanisms 0 Weber s Protestant ethic thesis is a thesis about how a set of ideas about ultimate values provides a coherent worldview that is it serves as an ideology ldeologists are the ideal typical value rationalists Where an ideology becomes predominant it has consequences for the social order As Weber once observed radical ideologies have the power to revolutionize individuals from within The ideology diffuses thru society o This could be an informal process as individuals spontaneously adopt new ways of living and change their routine behaviors to conform to their new ideas 0 Over time it can be formalized as the institutions are reformulated to meet the expectations of these ideologically defined values In the aggregate these new forms of behavior change the social order Ideology and social change the structure of the protestant ethic thesis New religious ideology capitalist market economy Calvinist Protestantism r institutional rationalization l T Change in individual values transformed patterns of economic gt 0000 behavior contra traditionalism 0 Implications and limits 0 Was it Protestantism alone that caused capitalism In various works Weber identifies several variables that occurring jointly caused capitalism 0 Although similar factors were present elsewhere at various times only in Europe did causal conjuncture of these factors cause capitalist breakthrough The separation of powers in Europe that divided religious and political powers between the princes and the church widening individual liberties lnstitutional The development of free commercial cities in Europe that were formally free of feudal relations and were self governing Here merchants and workers were free from the political and economic restrictions of feudalism lords lnstitutional Rational division of labor The development of rational cost accounting and competitive manufacturing EconomicTechnical A cultural revolution that changed the way that Europeans thought about economic relationships the effects of the Protestant Reformation Cultural o Is the Protestant Ethic still alive today 0 In an age of mass consumerism does it make sense any more to talk about worldly asceticism o In the contemporary USA does the revival of evangelical often fundamentalist Protestantism confirm or challenge Weber s thesis 0 What does the contemporary spread of evangelical Protestantism in industrializing regions such as Latin America and East Asia tell us about the Weber thesis 0 Was he right about the need for a spiritual revolution alongside the industrial revolution
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