Social Capital and Social Justice: Why Liberalism Is Essential

By Craig, Alexander W.; Goodman, Nathan | Journal of Private Enterprise, Spring 2019 | Go to article overview

Social Capital and Social Justice: Why Liberalism Is Essential


Craig, Alexander W., Goodman, Nathan, Journal of Private Enterprise


I. Introduction

In October 2017, the New Yorker released a report detailing the years of sexual harassment and assault Harvey Weinstein perpetrated against women in the entertainment industry. Despite numerous victims, extensive public attention, and even jokes about the matter on popular television programs like 30 Rock over those years, it took an investigative report in the New Yorker to bring Weinstein to account. Why was a man who was well-known and who worked in a conspicuously public industry able to get away with such abuse? Why was he not socially ostracized and professionally shunned long before reaching dozens of victims?

Weinstein's case is an instance of a more general phenomenon of individuals with substantial social influence evading responsibility for things that less influential individuals would never be able to get away with. These cases are generally surprising because interpersonal relationships are such an important part of their livelihoods. A high degree of social influence generally means lots of social connections, and lots of social connections generally means lots of monitoring.

We argue that Weinstein and others like him can get away with such objectionable behavior because of the perverse dynamics in organizational hierarchies. Such individuals can exploit their positions to force others into undesirable situations and abuse them. Social capital networks, which are likely to be present in concentrated industries, can exacerbate these dynamics, making densely connected hierarchies particularly prone to risk of abuse. We argue that the solution to these dynamics does not have to be, and in many cases cannot be, the abolition or abandonment of social capital, groups, or hierarchies. Instead, the solution is a set of institutions prized by liberal political theorists. By allowing individuals to freely exit groups and enter others, individuals may escape groups with perverse dynamics and find groups with desirable ones. Within a group, liberal organizational structures can help avoid social dynamics that facilitate abuse.

Our research contributes to at least three literatures. First, we contribute to the literature on organizational behavior in nonprice decision-making environments (Coase 1937; Alchian and Demsetz 1972). We discuss hierarchies' role in facilitating abusive behaviors and the (in)evitability of those dynamics, arguing that the nonprice dynamics and noncontestability of certain hierarchies and hierarchical positions enable abusers. Second, we contribute to the literature on social capital and economic behavior (Lin 2001; Granovetter 1973). We show how individuals with many social ties can use those ties to further their ability to act abusively and how institutional arrangements can help facilitate or prevent this abuse.

Third, we contribute to the literature on polycentricity and the benefits of exit rights (V. Ostrom, Tiebout, and Warren 1961; E. Ostrom 2010; Kukathas 2003). A system is polycentric if it is characterized by "many centers of decision-making that are formally independent of each other" (V. Ostrom, Tiebout, and Warren 1961). The benefits of polycentricity have been documented in diverse contexts, including the scientific community (Polanyi 1951), metropolitan policing (Boettke, Lemke, and Palagashvili 2016; Boettke, Palagashvili, and Piano 2017; Ostrom, Parks, and Whitaker 1973), medieval cities (Young 2017), international trade law (Benson 1999), and corporate polities (Salter 2016). We build on this literature to argue that polycentric institutions, by enabling exit, provide important checks against sexual harassment and similar abusive behavior by well-connected individuals who hold power in hierarchies.

The paper proceeds as follows. Section 2 explores the relevance and meaning of social capital and organizational hierarchy for the problems under consideration. We explore how hierarchies might facilitate abuse and how social capital may exacerbate such problems. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Social Capital and Social Justice: Why Liberalism Is Essential
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.