Schlagwort-Archive: institutions

On deception. Or why it makes sense to keep trusting

Harrington - "Deception"

The book „Deception“ (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2009), edited by Brooke Harrington (MPIfG, economic sociology) offers a wide variety of perspectives on deception. The contributors have put together their views from various disciplines, e.g. „Dealing with deception in biology“ (C. T. Bergstrom), „Paltering“ (F. Schauer and R. Zeckhauser), „Thoughts, Feelings and Deception“ (M. T. Frank), „Why most people parse palters, fibs, lies, whoppers and other deceptions poorly“ (M. O’Sullivan), „Digital Doctoring: Can we trust photographs?“ (H. Farid), „Digital Deception: The Practice of Lying in the digital age“ (J. T. Hancock), „Cognitive Hacking: Detecting Deception on the Web“ (P. Thomson), „Leaps and Lapses of Faith“ (G. Möllering), „Crocodile Tears, or Method acting in Everyday life“ (T. Lutz), „Deception and Trust in Health Crises“ (F. Rowan), „Responding to deception: The case of fraud in financial markets“ (Brooke Harrington) and, finally, „The pleasures of lying“ (K. Fields). One the one hand, the book “Deception” broadens the theory of action since it offers fresh insight into one important aspects of human action, it shows complexity of action theory, though it is readable for a broad public, and the insights are applicable to many contexts of contemporary society. On the other hand, the book also deserves some critical commentary.

First, what is deception? For instance, recently I took my parrot to the veterinarian, because it looked very sick, and I hardly believed my eyes when I arrived at the appointment: Within a 30 minute drive, my bird’s appearance had changed to pure livelihood. When I asked the doctor about the reason for the tremendous change in the bird’s appearance, he explained that parrots ‚just do that‘ because they will make any effort to appear strong to predators. But can deception in animals be compared to deception in humans? What does it take to deceive? Can people be deceived by technology? Can they be deceived by institutions or even by the state? Can deception ‚just happen‘, that is, does it make sense to speak of deception without an act of deception? Can deception occur when there is no deceiver? I would prefer to confine a definition of deception to humans and to specific contexts. Wikipedia offers this definition of deception:

an act of convincing another to believe information that is not true, or not the whole truth as in certain types half-truths, involving concepts such as propaganda, distraction and/or concealment

.

And Wikipedia defines fraud as

an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual.

Editor Brooke Harrington refuses to give a definition of deception and prefers to introduce a distinction between deception and lying:

„Unlike lying, which involves intent to promulgate a falsehood, a deception can take place without either intent or awareness on the part of a deceiver.“ (p. 3).

Harrington suggests that deception ‚just happens‘ and does not require a deceiver, an intent to deceive or awareness on the part of the deceiver. I was surprised by this approach to deception. So, I will give a short summary of a few chosen contributions and then add a few critical comments.

Weiterlesen

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Deutschland, Deine Armutsindustrie

Wir haben in Deutschland ca. 3,8 Millionen Arbeitslose und eine hohe versteckte Arbeitslosigkeit, d.h. Menschen, die – vermutlich aus wahltaktischen Erwägungen der Regierungsparteien – in der Statistik der Bundesagentur für Arbeit nicht als Arbeitssuchende aufgeführt werden müssen, weil man sie in aus Steuermitteln finanzierter Kurzarbeit oder in staatlich subventionierten Qualifizierungs- und Beschäftigungsmaßnahmen „untergebracht“ hat. Wie diese Menschen in der Sozialgesetzgebung nach HartzIV tatsächlich „beschäftigt“ werden, wie die ARGEN ihnen Beine machen, damit sie sich auch auf demütigende, sinnfreie Tätigkeiten und Jobs ohne jede Perspektive  einlassen und wie Unternehmen von der Not der Betroffenen profitieren, hat der WDR vergangene Woche in einer erschütternden Reportage gezeigt. Leseempfehlung dazu: Claudia KlingerSanta Prekaria.

Analytisch klarer dazu schreibt  Wolfgang Streeck (2009): „Re-forming Capitalism„. Darin untersucht Streeck, wie die Institutionen der sozialen Marktwirtschaft in Deutschland – branchenbezogener Flächentarif, Arbeitgeberverbände und Gewerkschaften, Sozialpolitik, Öffentliche Finanzen und die abnehmende Verflechtung der „Deutschland AG“ – seit den 1970er Jahren abgeschwächt und ausgehöhlt werde, wie sich der koordinierte Kapitalismus deutscher Prägung immer weiter in Richtung des liberalen Modells angelsächsischer Prägung verändert und inwiefern die deutsche Variante dieser Angleichung an das angeslsächsische Modell des liberalen Kapitalismus als pathologisch bezeichnet werden kann. In einem ebenfalls sehr lesenswerten Aufsatz „Reigning in Flexibility“ erläutert Streeck, wie „Markt“ (hier als Extremform des Marktwettbewerbs als soziales Ordnungsprinzip) und „Flexibilität „dazu eingesetzt werden, dass die Mensche mit immer mehr Knappheit umgehen müssen und welche sozialen Folgen das hat: z.B. sinkende Geburtenraten, weil junge Erwachsene genug mit der Unsicherheit zu tun haben, die andere auf sie abwälzen und unter den gegebenen Verhältnissen keine Ambitionen entwickeln, eine eigene Familie zu gründen. Traurige Ironie an der deutschen Variante des Strukturwandels im Kapitalismus ist, dass liberale Grundprinzipien wie „Marktwettbewerb“, „Flexibilität“ usw. für die Menschen größere Handlungsspielräume und erweiterte Möglichkeitshorizonte bedeuten müssten, in der deutschen Sozialstaatsgesetzgebung nach HartzIV den Menschen jedoch das Korsett der „Aktivierungspolitik“ der Bundesagentur für Arbeit aufgezwungen wird, die sich weder an Freiheit  interessiert zeigt, noch Anreize gibt oder Ressourcen bereitstellt, mit denen der Betroffene eine neue, bessere Situation für sich selbst erschaffen kann und stattdessen auf Aktivierung durch Androhung von Leistungsentzug setzt. Die Videos zeigen Erscheinungsformen, Widersprüche und soziale Folgen des von Streeck beschriebenen Wandels des Kapitalismus bezogen auf die Arbeitsmarkt- und Sozialpolitik Deutschlands.

Videos: Teil 1, Teil 2, Teil 3.

Nachtrag 21.07.09: Dokubeitrag ARD aus 2008 – Fallbeispiel Überwachung einer HartzIV-Bezieherin (via PiratHH)

Capitalism formerly known as the German Model and its Re-Formation. Part II

Wolfgang Streeck (MPIfG), a scholar of political economy, studies the relations between markets, states and institutions, the dynamics of their development, their interrelatedness and historical changes. His new book “Re-forming capitalism” (Oxford University Press 2009) is devoted to institutional changes in capitalism formerly known as the German Model and its social consequences. An important book, particularly to those who refuse to give up on liberalism. Back to Part I

Why capitalism?

“Why capitalism? If the gradual disorganization and liberalization of “postwar market economy” like Germany is to be explained, as I believe it must, as a secular historical process driven by endogeneous dialectical force, conceptions of “the economy” as a system in, ore on the way to, static equilibrium, however defined, are not really of use. Speaking of capitalism instead has the advantage that it conceptualizes the economy as inherently dynamic – as a historical social formation defined by a specific, characteristic dynamism, and as an evolving social reality in real time. Speaking of capitalism, in other words avoids the fallacies of misplaced abstractness that plague mainstream economics as well as rational choice social science and prevent them from engaging the world as it happens to be. Specifically, the concept of capitalism draws our attention to a core concept of market expansion and accumulation that, it suggests, makes up the substance and defines the identity of what is now the hegemonic and indeed the only form of economic organization in the modern world. Moreover, it also (…) moves into the center of analysis the fundamental issue of the compatibility of expanding markets with the basic requirements of social integration, thereby providing a coherent analytical framework in which to consider the manifold social conflicts associated with the ‘capitalist constant’ (Sewell 2008) of progressive commodification. ” (Streeck 2009, p. 230)

A society that consumes its institutions?

Streeck makes a strong argument insofar as the transformation of political-economic institutions he describes with the terms of ‘disorganization’, ‘flexibilization’ and ‘economization’ is severe in its consequences in terms of solidarity and social justice. Of course, all institutions are in transformation. So are the social economic institutions of capitalism: collective bargaining, intermediary organizations, social policy and the welfare state, and, of course, corporate governance. As Streeck shows convincingly, this process also involves public financing. But as the state extensively goes after its own interests, e.g. in rising incomes tax for the wealthier parts of the population, rising taxes on goods, inventing new fees for just about everything, lowering the standard of welfare, and hiding the true level of unemployment, this does not leave social solidarity in Germany untouched. Streeck puts this in the term “capitalism” meaning a social order rather than about an abstract “economy” meaning a functional subsystem or the market in a model of the word. But both terms leave that open tough competition, power struggle, inequality and unfairness occur. Slowly but continuously, without major disruptions, capitalism formerly known as the German model has been undermined in complex interplay of systemic, institutional and endogeneous change, not just as a result of external factors such as ‘globalization’ and ‘technology’, but rather because institutions were struggling with specific problems of systemic and social integration. The logic of flexibilization and disorganization is driven by characteristic dispositions of actors, the relationship of rule-making and rule-taking. Weiterlesen

Capitalism formerly known as the German Model and its Re-Formation. Part 1

Re-Forming Capitalism

Re-Forming Capitalism

Thinking about Germany, what are the first people or things that come to your mind? Friedrich Schiller? Heinrich Heine? Oktoberfest? Abwrackprämie? Coordinated capitalism? Hm, Schiller’s spirit of freedom is unequalled, but Heinrich Heine chose to leave the country, and German capitalism is no longer what it used to be. In the distinction of the ‘Varieties of Capitalism’ introduced by Peter Hall and David Soskice (2001), the German model has been discussed as a paradigmatic example of a coordinated market economy in Europe, Japan as a paradigmatic example for a coordinated economy in Asia. ‘Varieties of Capitalism’ (Hall/Soskice) holds that liberal economies and coordinated economies both have their characteristic set of institutions playing together in such a manner that liberal economies offer ideal structural conditions for radical innovation within companies and their interorganizational networks, and coordinated market economies offer ideal structural conditions for incremental innovation.

Wolfgang Streeck in his new book “Re-Forming Capitalism” – a must read – offers a dynamic version of political economy and shows the German economy has undergone such tremendous change in the areas of wage structure and wage-setting, business organizations and trade unions, social policy, public finance and corporate governance in recent decades, that the term no longer applies. It must be rather discussed about the general political and institutional of capitalism than the idea of varieties of capitalism suggests. The keywords of structural change Streeck identifies are ‘flexibilization’ and ‘liberalization’ rather than ‘globalization’ that forces a shift in the relationship between market, state and civil society. (Streeck 2009: 25). In this and the next blog post, I’ll discuss the transformation of the German model based on Streecks‘ inspiring new book, some old material from my dissertation and a bit of illustrative material I found online. Weiterlesen