Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview

6

SOLIDARITY AND COMMUNITY IN THE WORLD ECONOMY

Kishor Thanawala1

Solidarity and community are two ideas which have interested William R. Waters over a long period of time and about which he has written more than once. 2 He was a principal force in organizing a conference 3 on solidarity for social economists with the theme "Community Dimensions of Economic Enterprise." As editor of the Review of Social Economy, he found a place where these ideas could be discussed in a sympathetic as well as critical environment.

Since beginning as editor I have observed that economics scholarship differs according to alternative hard cores, especially those of conventional or classical on the one hand and solidarist on the other. Conventional economists stress the market as having a crucial decision-making role in the economy and stable equilibrium as a natural end of the significant economic variables, and the economy as having a strong homeostatic quality and competition as the only reliable instrument to attain efficiency and economic well-being. On the other hand, social economists with solidarist hard core premises stress other qualities in their attempt to explain the effective and equitable economy: personal community-based institutions, crucial decisions effected by cooperation, disequilibria caused by innovators and the widespread need for humanization of the economy. The heart of the difference between these two kinds of economists is in their respective conceptions of the nature of the economic unit. To conventional economists it is the utility calculating individual; to the solidarist it is the person who has by his sacred nature a status in the community that is not reducible to maximizing utility.

(Waters 1987:60; emphasis in the original)

In his presidential address to the Association for Social Economics in 1987, Waters stated that solidarism was older than classicism and identified four components of the hard core of solidarism: (1) institutions; (2) person; (3) uncertainty; and (4) status.

In an earlier article, he stated:

-75-

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