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Global Networks and Local Cultures Thompson

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119Michael ThompsonGlobal Networks and Local Cultures:What are the Mismatchesand what can be done about them?Contrasted pairings of social solidarities are as old as social science itself: Durkheim's(1893) mechanical versus organic solidarity, Tönnies' (1887) Gemeinschaft andGesellschaft and Sir Henry Maine's (1861) historical transition from status to contract,to mention just three. Nowadays, the favoured contrast, echoed in this symposium'sdistinction between private and non-private goods, is between markets (autonomousactors freely bidding and bargaining with one another) and hierarchies (the benignauthorities who ensure that the necessary conditions for this market game – a "levelplaying field", for instance – are in place) (eg Lindblom 1977, Williamson 1975).However, though the "masters" and their latter-day incarnations have all drawn dualisticdistinctions – dualistic distinctions that clearly are persuasive and clearly are tapping intosomething fundamental – you will go mad if you try to map their formulations onto oneanother. Only if you double-up, from two to four, can you accommodate them all in away that does not give rise to serious contradictions or Procrustean amputations.This "mapping of the masters" is the speciality of my colleague, Steve Rayner, and I willnot go into it here.1 Instead, I will just point out that, since markets institute equality (ofopportunity, that is) and promote competition whilst hierarchies institute inequality(status differences, that is) and set all sorts of limits on competition, a full typology ofsolidarities will have to include the other two permutations: equality without competition(which is called egalitarianism) and inequality with competition (which is calledfatalism). If you think of the Brent Spar saga, Shell was the actor from the market (orindividualist) solidarity, the government experts who okayed the deep ocean disposalwere the hierarchical actors, Greenpeace (whose eleventh hour intervention drasticallyupset this negotiated outcome) was the egalitarian actor, and those (like myself) whofound themselves totally convinced by whoever they last heard arguing the case ontelevision were the fatalists (Figure 1).There is, of course much more to this fourfold scheme than this (this typology is but onecomponent within what is called Cultural Theory2) but this is all I need to hang my globalnetworks/local cultures argument on. 1 But see Table 4.4 (p.327) of Thompson and Rayner 1998.2See Part I of Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky 1990, and the introductory chapter of Ellis andThompson 1997.120Inequality (asymmetrical transactions)FATALISM HIERARCHY eg Fickle isolates in front of their TV sets eg Government scientific expertsUnfetteredcompetitionFetteredcompetitionINDIVIDUALISM EGALITARIANISM eg Shell and its consultants eg GreenpeaceEquality (symmetrical transactions)Figure 1 The Four Forms of Social Solidarity that Underlie Most of Social Science.Goods and Solidarities3The first step in the argument is the obvious one: that non-private goods – the goodswith which we are concerned in this symposium – come in three distinct forms, each asdifferent from the other two as they all are from private goods.4 Private goods aredistinguished from non-private goods by virtue of their high excludability and lowjointness of consumption (Snidal 1994) and they are commonly contrasted with publicgoods, which are characterised by low excludability (if the lighthouse is there everyonecan use it, even if they have not contributed to its costs) and high jointness (thelighthouse is just as bright for the nth user as it was for the first one). The market canreadily produce private goods but, according to the conventional rational choiceargument, it will underprovide public goods and so the hierarchy will have to step in if 3 At various stages in this paper I borrow shamelessly from some of the contributions to a shortly tobe published book (Thompson, Grendstad and Selle, 1999). Much of this section (up to, andincluding, Figure 2) is borrowed from Verweij, 1999.4 To be precise, two of these three (club goods and common-pool goods) are as different from eachother as the third (public goods) is from private goods: both pairs differ on both discriminatingcriteria, excludability and jointness. These two are then half as different from both public goodsand private goods as they are from each other, differing on only one of the two discriminatingcriteria.121we are to have enough of them. But, of course, there are two other permutations – twoother varieties of non-private goods: club goods (high jointness, high excludability) andcommon-pool goods (low jointness, low excludability). An example of the former is, ofcourse, a club; if you belong to it you enjoy all its amenities, along with all the othermembers. An example of the latter would be the grazing on a salt-marsh to which all thesurrounding farms have access, and there has recently been an enormous amount ofresearch on these sorts of goods: goods that, since their provision requires equalisedvoluntary restraint and local (and often tacit) knowledge, are something of an affront toboth markets and hierarchies5 (eg Ostrom 1990, Keohane and Ostrom 1995, Goldman1998).These four kinds of goods map onto the four kinds of social solidarities: marketsproviding private goods, hierarchies providing public goods, egalitarian arrangementsproviding common-pool goods and fatalised margins making club goods viable by theease with which they can be excluded from them.6 And in mapping these goods onto thisfourfold scheme we turn it into what is called a "contested terrain": each solidarityarguing that life would be much, much better if the goods that are being provided by theother solidarities were provided by it instead. This brings me to the second step in myargument: that these four kinds of goods are socially constructed and essentiallycontested. In other words, there is nothing inherent to the goods themselves that will tellyou which category they fall into. Goods do not fall into categories; they are capturedinto them and, at some later stage, liberated from them. Even lighthouses can beprivatised, and private goods soon cease to exist in a social setting where everyone hasbecome convinced that all property is theft! (Figure 2).Social life, we can now see, is a never-ending struggle between these four solidarities,each usually managing to keep some of its goods uncontested, but all of them


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