Friday, March 20, 2009

The Market Norm of Non-Cooperation

. Friday, March 20, 2009

Check out this interesting read on new findings about how humans conceptualize of and are motivated by money.

Basically, humans seem to adhere to two different sets of norms: social and market.  When humans even think about money, we tend to abide by market norms.  In other words, just the thought of money makes us less likely to cooperate.

So, to what extent do these findings require IPE scholars to change their theoretical models?  Do we need to pay more attention to constructivist concerns about how preferences and structures develop?  How helpful are rational choice models at explaining a process that, at least at the individual level, doesn't seem at all rational?  What do "market norms" of non-cooperation say about the institutions argument?  And how much of this is old news, already exhaustively discussed during the emergence of prospect theory?


Kindred Winecoff said...

i don't get what you mean when you say that some process (which process?) "doesn't seem at all rational".

why doesn't it? shouldn't it make perfect sense to act differently in competitive (market) situations than noncompetitive (social) situations? shouldn't it make sense to act differently toward the car mechanic than to your spouse? why does that present a problem for rat-choicers?

when we're modeling actors in IR, are we usually talking about actors in strategic, competitive, bargaining situations or in unobtrusive, cooperative, social situations? well, it tends to be the former. if so, then modeling strategic actors as if they were engaging in a market transaction would seem to be appropriate. in other words, this article could actually provide some support for rat-choicers.

Sarah Bauerle said...

Well, the point of the article is that market norms are not really rational, although they are competitive. We don't value money the way that rational choice assumes we do. There are not many situations in which we would be indifferent between the probability of one payoff and another. This creates a problem when we think about Nash Equilibria and Subgame Perfect Equilibria.

More generally, there is a tendency in IR literature to assume that we should get more cooperation in economic situations that security situations. In general, I find this a pretty unhelpful distinction since security situations are often tightly related to economic greviences. But, if market norms make us less willing to cooperate, even when cooperation is costless or pareto-improving, then what does that say about our ability to move from (defect,defect) to (cooperate,cooperate) in strategic games?

The Market Norm of Non-Cooperation
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