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Home / Tag Archives: Behavioral Economics and Rationality

Tag Archives: Behavioral Economics and Rationality

Rainwater’s Motivated Reasoning

Lee Rainwater was one of the most prominent liberal sociologists of the Great Society era.  He spent 23 years at Harvard; here‘s the Harvard Gazette‘s memorial to his work.  To be honest, though, I never heard of him until last week.  Yet after I stumbled upon his 1966 Daedalus article, “The Crucible of Identity: The Negro Lower-Class Family,” I was surprised that any academic would so candidly admit to motivated reasoning.  When I discovered that he was an...

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Banfield on the Hyperbole of Urban Bankruptcy

As I never stop telling you, politics is nothing but an ocean of hyperbole!  But seriously, folks, I just came across a fine debunking of political hyperbole while reading Edward Banfield‘s 1974 classic, The Unheavenly City Revisited. A great part of the wealth of our country is in the cities.  When a mayor says that his city is on the verge of bankruptcy, he means that when the time comes to run for reelection he wants to be able to claim credit for straightening out...

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A New Year’s Resolution for Statocrats

“Statocrats” is an old French word (statocrate) recycled by Bertrand de Jouvenel and meaning “a man who derives his authority only from the position he holds and the office he performs in the service of the state” (On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth, 1945 for the original French edition). I extend the term to encompass the Prince’s academic or quasi-academic advisors who partly or totally depend on the state for their incomes. (I am not implying that all...

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Appeasing Hanson’s Critics

Appeasement is greatly underrated.  As I’ve explained before: Didn’t the Munich Agreement prove for all time that appeasement doesn’t work?  Hardly.  Despite its well-hyped failures, appeasement is an incredibly effective social strategy for dealing with the unreasonable and the unjust… also known as 90% of mankind.  Whenever someone makes bizarre demands upon me, my default is not to argue.  Instead, I weigh the cost of compliance.  If that cost is small – and it...

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A Most Surprising Clause About “Neoliberalism”

“[T]he neo-romantic tales spun by Duneier, Anderson, and Newman at the close of the regressive nineties suggest that U.S. sociology is now tied and party to the ongoing construction of the neoliberal state…” This is from Loic Wacquant‘s 2002 review essay in the American Journal of Sociology, one of the field’s top two journals.  That’s just a few years before researchers found that over 25% of U.S. sociology professors self-identified as “Marxists.” How could any...

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Who’s Afraid of Oscar Lewis?

In the 50s and 60s, Oscar Lewis could easily have been the world’s most famous anthropologist.  He wrote a whole series of painstaking ethnographies of poor families from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India.  My 12th-grade AP Government class actually made his Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty required reading.  Only recently, though, have I realized that these books aren’t just fascinating in their own right; they’re also illuminating at the...

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Read “The Culture of Poverty: An Ideological Analysis”

Next week I’m going to blog a piece that is at once lucid, engaging, insightful, and flabbergasting: David Harvey and Michael Reeds “The Culture of Poverty: An Ideological Analysis.” (Sociological Perspectives, 1996)  As far as I can tell, there’s only a gated version, but if you want to peek inside the intra-left debate on “culture of poverty” research, this is the place to start.

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Lower-Class Families and Evolutionary Psychology

A few more thoughts on Rodman’s Lower-Class Families: 1. There is little sign that the welfare state has anything to do with ubiquitous impulsive sexual behavior in Coconut Village.  Even the neediest single moms appears to receive little or no support from the government. 2. So how do the neediest single moms cope?  Rodman: What does the woman do, however, when she has children by a man and he leaves her?  The separation may “solve” the man’s financial problem if he...

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Is the “Culture of Poverty” Functional?

At last, I’m starting my next major project: Poverty: Who To Blame.  As usual, my first step is assembling and reading several tall stacks of research. One of these stacks is the “cultural of poverty” literature, and one of the classics of this literature is Hyman Rodman’s Lower-Class Families: The Culture of Poverty in Negro Trinidad (Oxford University Press, 1971).  Rodman provides a detailed ethnography of impoverished Coconut Village (location name changed to...

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A Conservative Confession

Few psychological results are as well-grounded as hedonic adaptation.  Human beings often have strong short-run reactions to even mild stimuli.  An ice cream cone can put a huge grin on our faces.  Missing a red light can make us scream with rage.  In the long-run, however, human beings’ emotional reactions to even extreme stimuli soften to a shocking degree.  If you won millions in the lottery, the thrill would soon fade.  If your girlfriend dumped you, the pain of...

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