Social Contracts and Economic Markets

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Springer, 2007 M08 20 - 218 pages
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The thesis of this book is that people enter into social contracts because they are different from one another and have incentives to cooperate. In economic life, people have identical interests—namely, their own se- interests—so they have an incentive to compete. The social worlds that we create, or map, and those that are already mapped for us are increasingly complex, and thus the tracking of rationality is not so straightforward, although it is everywhere evident. In a sense, this book grew out of two questions: Why hasn't the United States had a second revolution? Or is the revolution yet to come? Many have discussed the current crises that confront contemporary society, such as great economic inequalities, poverty, the declining quality of jobs, the growing power of corporate elites, and racial antago nisms. I attempt to understand these problems in terms of the radical restructuring of social life by economic and spatial forces. My specula tive thesis is that social organizations must reinforce social contracts and nurture the opportunities for them to be forged. However, contemporary organizations, particularly economic ones, have internalized the princi ples of economic markets, thereby inducing competition and easing out cooperation. In defining social contracts, I draw from Rousseau and also from Marx and his analysis of use value. One hopes that new organiza tional forms based on principles of democracy and community will evolve. In a diverse, multicultural society, this requires great mutual understanding and cooperation and the recognition of differences.

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Contents

Reflexivity and Social Science
1
The Social Contract
17
Rationality
32
Partialled and Nonpartialled Roles
46
The Civility of Ordinary Life
53
Embeddedness of Social Structures
60
Culture and Group Membership
67
Positions and Culture
73
Declining Economic Inequalities
115
The Firm and Its Contradictions
125
A Crack in the Edifice
132
SelfEmployment
139
Worlds of Fashion Lives of Leisure
145
Rank and Disarray
152
Cosmopolitan Culture
158
The Micrometrics of Morals and the Macrometrics
165

Equality and Diversity
80
Economy Place and Culture
89
International Markets
96
Macroconventions
103
The Basis of Class
109
The Suspension of EthicsThe Role of the State
176
Rights Goods and Welfare
189
The Civics of Cooperation
192
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