Global Class Warfare

Oh, it’s on! Let put the pieces together, shall we? On the labor side, the picture is quite bleak:

So, what should be done? The ILO Director-General has a few ideas:

So, one could think that unionization would be a good step in that direction. After all, it has a good track record of pushing the working class up the social ladder in Western countries. Not so fast, says the corporate class, via Lance Mannion:

Not only that but there is now a pushback from the executive class at the idea of being deprived of their obscene bonuses, via Digby:

It is unclear how hard the Obama administration is willing to fight back the class warfare (also illustrated by the fact that the appointment of the Secretary of Labor is currently stuck) in favor of the middle class and the other below on the social ladder, but in Europe, the "dangerous classes" are not taking it sitting down:

Expect strong social movements as economic conditions degrade globally. No doubt about it, the class warfare is on. Who will prevail? The Transnational capitalist and corporatist class? Who will resist them? How strongly will global labor react? Will we see global solidarity among workers? There will probably be major differences by regions. Europeans may not be shy when it comes to demonstrating but Americans only bother when there are sales at large stores and are more tolerant of social inequalities. However, will constant exposure to corporatist excesses and arrogance make a difference? How will the masses in the Global South react? Which side will governments take?

The current conditions have exposed the naked greed and sense of entitlement of the transnational capitalist class and their political allies. They are not even hiding it anymore. They just do not care about the rest of the population as long as their privileges are preserved.

So, will society (as opposed to apathetic masses) make a comeback? Contrary to what identity politicians and theorists have told us, social classes matter. So does social justice through redistribution especially when resources are scarce.

The OTHER Culture War – Hummers

Years ago, I was alerted by the website FUH2 (NSFW) that posted photos of people giving the fingers to people driving H2s. It is also great fun to use in class. It is interesting that the Hummer triggered satirical websites as well. What was it about the Hummer that would generate so much hostility? The size? The militaristic look? This was nicely summarized by this (available on different media):

H2

To a certain extent, driving a Hummer screams macho arrogance, hence, the hostile reactions targeted specifically at over-masculine traits.

Today, we get the evidence whether such treatment was justified via Susan Madrak:

Well well, looks like the stereotype (and therefore the attempts at mass stigmatization) were accurate after all. The possession of a Hummer involved a certain type of behavior. Now, the question becomes one of chicken and egg. Is it self-selection (certain type of people – as the ones described in the article – are more likely to buy Hummers)? Or is it causation (once they’ve bought a Hummer, people behave in a certain fashion? Probably a combination of both.

Either way, driving a Hummer is like driving around in your very own gated community: people can’t see you (but they do see your monstrous gaz guzzlers, so, one does get the benefits of a status symbol that says that one does not care about the environment or the price of gas), but nor can the driver see the mere mortals (therefore no interaction) or the road signs (rules are for little people).

Social Privilege as Skillful Impression Management

Let me put it differently. The difference then lies in certain criminals functioning from an upper-class, dominant habitus which entitles them to a better – read "non-criminal" – social perception. Their cultural and social capital allows them to be viewed as upstanding individuals.

This is really no different than arguing, as Bourdieu and Passeron argued in La Reproduction, that white-collar criminals – such as Madoff – possess a dominant habitus and forms of capital that make them more at ease within social settings from which they will commit their crimes, just like upper-class kids have a habitus that match more closely the cultural expectations of the educational system (manners, speech patterns, etc.) which makes them more at home within the system and creates a more peer-like relationship with the teachers.

In the case of white-collar criminals, their upper-class habitus is basically a guarantee of initial non-criminal perception. In this sense, social privilege turns into a form of interactive skill: the capacity to produce effective impression management.

It is partly this possession of a habitus that is more homologous to that of members of the criminal justice system (especially the judicial part of it) that explains the kid globe glove (thanks, Jay!) treatment white-collar and corporate criminals receive, compared to the punishment handed down to the riff-raff who commit less socially costly crimes, but have the misfortune of a subordinate habitus that endowed them with less social and cultural capital, more at odds with the norms of the criminal justice system.

And as Todd Krohn notes, not only do upper-class criminals get treated significantly more leniently than street criminals, they also get to not be entirely blamed for the crimes they have committed. Indeed, regarding street criminals, one will often invoke "don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time" motto, whereas for white-collar criminals like Madoff

It’s actually a two-fer: Madoff gets some exoneration and the system also escapes blame as responsibility for the current troubles gets redirected from political and structural considerations to moral ones attributed to people lower on the social ladder.

Teaching Sociology 101 – Taking Reality Seriously

What I mean by that is that part of thinking sociologically is to look at the way things are, seriously and in detail, which mean with specific attention to certain factors, as Avedon does here:

"And, as I have noted before, every person busted for drugs in the city and carted off to another state is not just one less person who is likely to be able to vote in that city, but one more body to be added to the census in what is probably a "red" district or state, thus weakening the electoral strength of more liberal areas (because fewer people mean fewer members of Congress) to add to the strength of more conservative ones without having to add actual voters to them.

Because conservative economic policies in general create more economic hardship, they create more crime, but conservatives also like to eagerly add to the list of things that are crimes you can be busted for. At no time are they trying to make your streets and neighborhoods safer – they are just trying to find more ways to control people who might get uppity. And, to add injury to injury, they get to use your money to do it, diverting it from places it might really do some good."

In other words, one just has to look at who’s doing what to whom and who benefits from any specific social arrangements. Social phenomena do not fall from the sky in their specific current forms. They have a history, they are the product of social, political and economic processes. And they are shaped by the state of power arrangements and institutional realities. Which group or category of people is in a position to impose its interests upon other, less privileged group or category of people. And what cultural narrative is developed to account for obviously unfair social arrangements?And what institutional structure support any given social arrangements.

Social reality is thick with these layers. We just have to take it seriously.

Aux Armes, Citoyens! Economic Disintegration and Social Movements

Strike Today, 190 demonstrations should take place in France, supported by eight different unions to protest the French government’s response to the economic crisis. Sociologist Denis Muzet, of Mediascopie, offers his view, in Le Monde, on this social context in which large-scale protest social movements are likely to emerge. For him, we need a new moral and social contract.

Muzet notes that research has shown that a few weeks ago, French people were shocked by the scale of the crisis but were not panicking about it. Now, there is much more anger based on news such as the fact that banks have published profits while at the same time receiving 20 billion Euros in government help all the while refusing to give up or reduce their bonus. This feeds into a profound sense of injustice that can lead to social unrest even though the French social safety net has mitigated somewhat the worst impact of the crisis.

But what still feeds this sense of injustice is only partially economic and social. It is a moral crisis as well, a crisis of meaning. The complete devotion to profits at the expense of the human element is what is coming crashing down right now. The sheer number attached to financial losses is amazing. A whole social and moral structure is collapsing. Here, Muzet sounds very Durkheimian, talking about something that sounds a lot like anomie. And anomie can lead to chaos accompanied with a loss of social solidarity as people witness the excesses of the privileged class.

At the same time, the media themselves have fed this trend by framing the crisis almost exclusively in terms of social anxiety while politicians (Sarkzy and Obama, I might add) engage in dramaturgy (as Muzet notes) to present themselves as saviors. Again, here , Muzet notes the absence of coherent narrative. Interestingly, you would have to read sociological and economic blogs for that (such as Pual Krugman or Ian Welsh).

So, in this context, bailouts and stimulus bills with big numbers attached to them do not do the trick. What is the point of investing or consuming if one does not know what is going to happen? Discourse of meaning and of crisis exit is lacking. And such a framing discourse, for Muzet, needs to involve a new social and moral contract based on ecology, sustainable growth and social solidarity. Muzet’s studies reveal that the French see the state as the emergency paramedics but don’t think the state will be the main agency to get out of the crisis since so many states have been submerged and overwhelmed by the amplor of the crisis. For them, the role of the state is to not let the social structure collapse completely. At the same time, they do blame the state for letting this happen through liberalization and deregulation. In these studies, the French reveal that they understand that new modes of consumption and social organizations are needed.

Unions also have a strong part to play but their credibility is limited as well. And let’s not talk about the current political opposition. Muzet’s point is that the solutions to the crisis cannot be exclusively economic but have to be social as well. A purely quantitative and economist vision will not do the trick but as long as the media and the political sphere are stuck in (1) panic mode, and (2) economic determinism + consumerism, no solution will emerge and a profound social crisis with strong social movements is a very real possibility.

The Commodification of Sociability

Damien Babet has an interesting post, in French, on recent forms of commodification of sociability based on a NYT article on apartment owners using companies to manage the sociability of their renters. Take a look a webpage from one such company:

In these relatively luxury buildings in New York City, as Babet reports, one can find a swimming pool, pool room, movie theater, ballroom and reception room and social activities are handled by a life manager. All these activities are paid for through a mandatory annual registration fee. One of the rep from a life management company compares the building to the Love Boat, which should be enough to make one want to avoid them at all costs. But the general idea stands: one’s building as permanent cruise. Let’s call this the "soft" gated community for its comfortable and not-so-obvious form of social segregation. There is no question that the target population is the young and hip upwardly mobile with no need for permanent community ties but rather sociability that is easily built (because purchased) and easily discarded and replaced (because interchangeable as a product).

As Babet indicates, the commodification of sociability is not new. After all, that’s what bars, clubs, vacation clubs, cruises, gyms are for. This is not a new market where the people themselves are the product and the PR firm at the same time. What the site owners have to do is to make sure they have the right demographics for their target population, the socializing activities which might be functions of social classes, education and other social variables.

And as much as sociability is the message, social distance is the product. The companies offer the ability to socialize with one’s equals, in terms, mostly of social class, while easily avoiding especially those lower on the social ladder. Living in these residences is a form of social distinction where one does not have to interact outside of one’s select milieu. Avoiding a messy social reality thanks to living in a self-sufficient, socially homogeneous community is what is being sold. Indeed, it is something that Bauman noted before when he wrote about the cosmopolitan wealthy segregating themselves from the rest of society with no more attachment to national communities than they do to a neighborhood (only in so far as it provides certain amenities that can be offered in any world-city).

Babet takes it one step further. This form of in-group sociability-building is present in the workplace as well. After all, isn’t that what management is doing when it comes to team-building, motivation, cooperation and value-sharing, horizontal networks and so on? All these different management strategies that are supposed to flatten the hierarchy and liberate the creative energies of the workers through not more money but just the feel-good sense of being part of the team? It is indeed an interesting idea: that of personal life managed like a career. There is a limit to this comparison though, for Babet: power. No matter how much companies talk of shared values and cooperation, at the end of the day, power relations have not disappeared. That aspect of social relations is absent in the case of the renters in their love boat apartments. Or is it?

How much of this activity and lifestyle management is a form of control, first by selection and exclusion? And the lender-renter relations is not an equal one either. As Babet notes, renters, like any organization member have the strategies of "Exit", "Voice" and "Loyalty" to choose from in such an environment. Or they may be politely thrown out if they are deemed too critical. Social control indeed.

All this points to the lack of spontaneity in these forms of sociability, and their socially constructed and carefully managed traits as renters become as controlled and as subject to the processes of the surveillance society, through message boards, for instance, than workers and other subordinate categories.

How Bad Is It? Look at The Pretty Graph

Click on the image for a bigger and better view (Citigroup looks especially REALLY bad):

Depression

Not to worry though, the bailout will go to them, but not to family planning programs or any cram-down provisions to help homeowners.

And for the dense among us, here are two very articulate explanations of why support for family planning programs perfectly belongs in an economic stimulus bill:

And Susan Madrak (with extra indignation for good measure):

It is hard to believe that in the 21st century, those who should know better still assume that only men are wage earners and women are mostly homemakers. It’s like deindustrialization and the rise of the service and information economy never happened. And when the information economy does get discussed, it’s understood as a male economy as well: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and the other geeks who invented everything, no mention of the cohorts of glass-ceilinged women working in these industries.

Finding Ways Around Anti-FGM Laws – Go For The Babies

In spite of this, it seems that the law has been somewhat successful as the decline in mutilated women from 77% in the 1990s to less than 50% in 2005. This does not change the horrifying fact of cutting newborns, which happens in rural areas. Another issue is the age of the cutters:

The only positive side I see to this is that old people eventually die, hopefully, not to be replaced (hence the lack of declining age of circumcisers).

Book Review – Why?

Why Charles Tilly’s Why? What Happens When People Give Reasons… And Why is an interesting departure from his usual writings. Readers of Tilly’s previous books are used to deep historical and comparative analyses of dynamics of contention or of democracy and state capacity. Why? is very different. It is a very Goffmanian book focusing on interactive dynamics and processes of reason-giving ("Human beings are reason-giving animals" writes Tilly, 8), rich in examples, and easy to read.

Tilly defines the thesis of his book as such:

"[This book] asks how, why, and in what different ways people supply reasons for the things they do, that others do, that happen to them, or that happen to other people – not so much grand general reasons for life, evil, or human frailty as the concrete reasons that different sorts of people supply or accept as they go about their daily business, deal with hardship, pass judgment on each other, or face emergencies such as the 9/11 disaster. (…) The book […] focuses on the social side of reason giving: how people share, communicate, contest, and collectively modify accepted reasons rather than how individual  nervous system process new information as it comes in." (9)

The focus of the book is then on the social process of giving reasons as part of common interactions. Indeed, one of Tilly’s central points is that giving reasons is a way of establishing, maintaining, reinforcing or contesting social relationships. The reasons we give, how we give or receive them, depends on the kinds of social relations between people.

Out of the diversity of reasons and social relations, Tilly identifies and distinguishes between four types reason-giving, used depending on the social relations between giver and receiver, as reason-giving is a process through which they confirm, negotiate or repair the connections between them.

  • Conventions : conventionally accepted reasons, "it was my turn", "traffic was bad", or "it was just luck.
  • Stories : explanatory narratives that include accounts of causality.
  • Codes : explanations based on legal judgments or religious dogma, for instance.
  • Technical Accounts : causal explanations based on specific expertise.

How each of these are used depends on the social interaction and social status and relationships between individuals involved. At the same time, which type of explanation is used has an effect on the social relationship between giver and receiver (confirmation, negotiation or repair).

Conventions do not provide cause-effect accounts. They are quick ways of explaining (away) social deviation. We, teachers, have heard our lot of conventional explanations as to why assignments are turned in late. Conventions are used in cases of conventional breach of folkways, little acts of deviance such as why we’re a few minutes late for a meeting.

Stories are used for exceptional events and unfamiliar phenomena and they do provide cause-effect accounts. Moreover, stories often include attribution of responsibility for the state of affair to be explained and therefore include a moral component (who was to blame, who behaved heroically, who behaved badly). However, stories are culturally-embedded. The same narratives tend to come up over and over again as stories trim down and simplify actors, motives and responsibilities whose weight is overestimated while errors and circumstances or luck are downplayed.

Codes refer to rules rather than accounts of cause and effect. References to the law or religious dogma or military regulations are of this kind. What is accounted for then is how much events and actions conformed to, or departed from, established rules.

Technical accounts identify cause and effect mechanisms through expert knowledge. The nature of the explanations will depend on whose expertise is invoked.

These different forms of reason-giving can be summarized as such:

Popular Specialized
Formulas Conventions Codes
Cause-Effect Accounts Stories Technical Accounts

"Popular" means widely accessible while "specialized" means that education or training is necessary to understand these accounts. Formulas refers to explanations where appropriateness (or closeness to a code or convention) is more important than establishing cause and effect.

All these forms of reason-giving do relational work. They can confirm the relationship between giver and receiver, as when the reason is accepted as such. They can establish a relationship when reason is given between unrelated individuals. They can negotiate relationship as when codes or technical accounts are used as a way of establishing one’s expertise in a the relationship. Or they can repair relationships especially when reason-giving aims at explaining harm inflicted on the receiver.

And as always, in social relationships, power and inequalities matter:

"Reason giving resembles what happens when people deal with unequal social relations in general. Participants in unequal social relations may detect, confirm, reinforce, or challenge them, but as they do so they deploy modes of communication that signal which of these things they are doing. In fact, the ability to give reasons without challenge usually accompanies a position of power. (…) Whatever else happens in the giving of reasons, givers and receivers are negotiating definitions of their equality or inequality." (24-5)

For instance, using formulas rather than cause and effect account may be a mark of power where there is no need for further explanation. And receivers may challenge such accounts by demanding cause and effect reasons but how forcefully such a challenge is made is also a function of the (in)equality of the relationship between giver and receiver.

Based on this typology, then, Tilly proceeds to detailed accounts of how each mode of explanation operates through a variety of everyday examples. For instance, for conventions,

"Good etiquette incorporates conventional reasons. The reasons need not be true, but they must fit the circumstances. On the whole, furthermore, in most circumstances that require polite behavior conventions work better than stories, codes or technical accounts, which would only complicate the interchange. Conventions confirm or repair social relations." (33)

This leads to another important topic: it is a competence to be able to identify which type of explanation to provide depending on the type of situations. Because reasons justify practices, supplying inappropriate reasons disrupts social life. This is indeed a very Goffmanian analysis of the social actor as competent reason-giver. The ability to provide the appropriate reasons is a sign of social competence. Failure to do so cause embarrassment and will entail some face-repairing work (which itself will require reason-giving to reestablish the competence of the actor) that will interrupt the flow of social interaction.

But Tilly takes this a step further:

"Reason giving always defines, or redefines, the relationship between the parties. More precisely, it distinguishes the relationship between the parties from other relationships with which it would be risky, costly, confusing, or embarrassing to confuse it." (39)

Reason-giving is then also boundary-marking. As such, reason-giving has consequences for action and subsequent interactions.

Regarding stories:

"Stories provide simplified cause-effect accounts of puzzling, unexpected, dramatic, problematic, or exemplary events. Relying on widely available knowledge rather than technical expertise, they help make the world intelligible. (…) They often carry an edge of justification or condemnation." (64)

Again, cultures provides a limited narrative repertoire that actors can tap into in the formatting and customizing of their stories but these accounts often come from the same cultural matrix or template. As above, knowing when to provide a story-as-reason is a social competence that requires crafting a cast of character and sequences of events that lead to a moral conclusion where credit and blame get allocated. In our culture, individual credit and blame are the norm. And here as well, power matters, socially-inferior story-givers have to provide more elaborate narrative that incorporates greater self-justification.

Not only do stories contain moral elements, they also incorporate rhetorical components as well in that they strive to persuade the receiver of whatever excuses, apologies or condemnations they contain.

As for codes,

"Reasons based on conventions draw on widely available formulas to explain or justify actions, but include little or no cause-effect reasoning. Story-based reasons, in contrast, build on simplified cause-effect accounts by means of idioms that many people in the same culture can grasp. Reasons stemming from technical accounts likewise invoke cause and effect, but rely on specialized disciplines and claim to present comprehensive explanations. When it comes to codes, reasons given for actions cite their conformity to specialized sets of categories, procedures for ordering evidence, and rules of interpretation. Together, categories, procedures and rules make up codes." (101-2)

Indeed, take the Oscar Grant deadly shooting, most analysis focuses on whether the BART cop who shot Grant conformed to the code (the rules regarding the use of force and its escalation). What will probably be debated in courts will be how closely he followed such rules or whether he departed from them. Based on such an analysis, blame will be allocated (and potentially, social sanctions).

Codes are an especially important form of reason-giving in formal organizations and bureaucratic environments where rules and regulations are essential to the life of the organizations.

The quote above already nicely defined technical accounts (cause-effect + specialized knowledge + jargon accessible to whoever is qualified and trained). Power is essential here as well as the display of specialized knowledge using the lingua of the specific discipline mark the in-group / out-group boundaries and excludes whoever does not possess such technical knowledge. Using technical accounts is an assertion of authority.

Tilly concludes his book by raising a specific problem for public sociology (or whoever teaches introduction to sociology courses):

"Social scientists face a distinctive problem. (…) They claim to describe and explain the same social processes that nonspecialists habitually treat by means of conventions and stories. Hence a bundle of problems for social scientists: they are commonly proposing explanations of the very same behaviors and outcomes for which people learn early in life to give accounts in the modes of conventions, stories and codes. (…) As researchers, authors, teachers, and participants in public discussion, social scientists therefore find themselves causing offense and cultivating disbelief. In any case, they rarely reach general audiences with their technical accounts." (176)

Food for thought for all socbloggers.

“We Don’t Have A Backup Economic System”

So says Joseph Stiglitz in an interview with Le Monde.

For Stiglitz, what is happening is not just a crisis of the financial system, but a crisis of wealth deterioration in general. He denounces the hypocrisy of the American financial system which relied on maximum deregulation of financial flows (Appadurai’s financescapes), on the removal of responsibility of economic actors, on the unbalancing of the relationships between public and private sectors. All this led to the impoverishment – rather than the enrichment – of the countries where market fanaticism reigns, as he puts it.

For Stiglitz, there is a need for a system based on different values.

Early in 2008, the Nobel Prize winner was asked by the French government to chair a commission tasked with defining new wealth indicators. A first report should be published in the first trimester of 2009 and it will emphasize the need for sustainable development and growth and the necessity of not overestimating the health of economies.

Among the indicators under consideration (as opposed to the usual GNP), one finds debt sustainability, quality of public services, the state of population sanitation, and environmental sustainability. The idea behind these indicators is not to measure exclusively material goods but also social and environmental welfare. This seems very inspired by triple bottom line considerations (economic profitability, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility).

As Stiglitz indicates, even once the worst of the current crisis is behind us, structural issues will remain, especially the fundamental problem of inequalities, perceived not just as a social problem but also as a problem of dysfunctional economic flows. The way the inequality problem was dealth with over the past years was to allow those at the bottom of the social ladder to borrow more and more. Of course, this was never a sustainable solution (neither sustainable, nor a solution). This model has now completely collapsed and we have no back up economic system. More seriously, for Stiglitz, we do not have a model that would allow the economy to develop truly sustainably.

Big problem, indeed.

For those of you who are fluent in French, the full TV interview is available here.

Applied Solidarity Economics

Denis Colombi has some interesting considerations regarding the connections between solidarity economics and art / culture (hey, look who posted about solidarity economics before it was cool to do so!). As usual, I’ll summarize as best I can Denis’s points and add my comments when relevant.

There are already common images when it comes to solidarity economics: fair trade, microcredit of the Grameen Bank-type, local exchange systems. In his post, Colombi focuses more on different sectors: cultural and artistic production while locating solidarity economics squarely in the field of economic sociology. Following Polanyi, sociologists emphasize the plural character of the economy organized around three poles: (1) a market economy where resources are allocated by the market based on financial interests, (2) a non-market economy where allocation is based on public policy, and (3) a non-monetary economy where social relations sustain exchanges and activities. Solidarity economics belongs to that third pole (as does nousehold economics).

It is certainly true that the first pole dominates in Western capitalist societies, but not because it is some sort of "natural" or "default setting" but as socially and historically-constructed product. Solidarity economics allows us to rethink the connections between society and economy, whose political, ideological or even academic separation is problematic as they are thoroughly interconnected and interdependent.

But solidarity economics is not just a mode of analysis. It is a political project as well, dedicated to the citizens’ reappropriation of economic behavior. In particular, solidarity economists reject the disembedding of economy from society where individuals are reduced to basic behavior: consume, produce, save, and where a full understanding of the system is left to "experts" such as the economist or the politician. Against such a disembedded view, solidarity economists reestablish the agency and understanding of people’s actions and work to make visible the actual and always present (only ideologically hidden) social embedding of economic behavior as invested with meaning by social actors who modify their behavior based on such meaning (how very interactionist!).

Solidarity economists’ goals do not limit their analysis and action with the third pole of economic activity. They also work toward the hybridization of the market and non-market poles. In this sense, solidarity economics is not simply what’s left unaccounted for once after allocation through the market and non-market poles; it is a thorough social project that touches upon domains beyond the economy that seeks to overcome the three poles conception. But what is still unclear, for Colombi, is the exact place of solidarity economics with respect to the market and public policy.

[And here, let me plug again my own post: in his post, Colombi deplores the lack of "fleshing out" of solidarity economics… my own post provided specific projects that were already up and running with their own institutional structures.]

So, we know that market economy’s basic principle is profitability, that of public policy is… hell, who knows… actually, referring to French cultural policy since Malraux, Colombi posits it as excellence (as defined by expert groups who allocate funcing). In both cases, solidarity economists note the lack of public participation or expression of desires and values thereby locking artistic production in spheres of either elitism or conservatism, both stifling innovation. So, solidarity economics has an uphill battle not just against the market and its profit principle but also against the public economic sector.

In the art and cultural domains, as Colombi underlines, the conditions might be favorable to solidarity economics thanks to UNESCO agreements signed by nations on cultural diversity that public policies are expected to support. These UNESCO agreements refer to the equal dignity of all cultures and the idea of free choice when it comes to individual cultural participation. Therefore, cultural rights become a necessary part of cultural policy as long as they do not diminish others’ dignity (take that cultural relativists and supporters of FGM in the name of culture). From this perspective, then, both the market and public policy become tools to satisfy individual cultural rights rather than producers of cultural goods at the exclusion of people. But they are not the only and exclusive tools, there is a place here for solidarity economics to carve a space as well. Actually, it might be a more adapted tool to satisfy cultural rights.

But all in all, Colombi seems frustrated with what he has read of solidarity economics especially when it comes to the social construction of economic institutions and how solidarity economics can take its place compared to the market and public policy (again, I’d be curious to read what he thinks of the examples I have discussed in my own post). Beyond economic sociology, there is also the question of social movements: what of the mobilization of actors around common principles and projects? What modes of collective action(s) are necessary? Is there a need for a hot cause / cool mobilization? Which groups work are involved in this (beyond the usual suspect of the alter-globalization movement)? What identity production needs to emerge here?

For Colombi, solidarity economics still has a long way to go… heck, it probably needs some academic anchoring too, and I don’t see that happening.

So Many Good News… Count ‘Em

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