Vygotskian Writings Теоретическая психология Выготскианские тексты



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Identity Economics


An Alternative Economic Psychology
[In Hungarian]
Tas Editor, 2006. 294 pp.





The antecedents of this monograph are four editions of the one entitled Foundation of an Economic Psychology that has been published [in Hun­­garian] by the Hungarian Economic Society in 1990 and reprinted (in 1992) for teaching purposes by the Budapest Economic University. Its second, redacted edition has been published by the Attila Jozsef University (General Economic Psychology, 1996 [reprinted: 1997]). The third, enlarged and redacted edition: Attila Jozsef University Press, 1997 [reprinted: 1997]. The fourth edition: The human potential as capital: An approach by the economic psychology. “Aula” Economic University Press, 1998 [reprinted: 1999, 2000, 2001; an illegal reprint misentitled The human capital as potential: 2002]).

The mainstream psychology is based on a methodological individualism. The proposed monograph presents an alternative to that academism by approaching economic psychology (as well as some features of political psychology, socio-psycho-linguistics etc.) from the aspect of social interaction and social identity, as linked both to micro- and to macroeconomic issues.



I. General Economic Psychology


The economic psychology is claimed by the monograph to have emerged as a science about psycho­logic phe­no­mena turned into economic factors during a his­torical period labeled as second modernization and facing the necessity of producing human re­sour­ces at the cost of con­suming material resources.

The FIRST CHAPTER The Economic Psychology Approach presents an axiomatic model of the economic man and so­me contemporary reason for which the real economic activity does not corres­pond to that model. The psychology of behaviorism that corresponds to the “economic man’ model and three alternative psychologies (that of cog­ni­ti­ve psycho­logy, of psycho-analysis and the social psycho­logy) are presented in so­me de­tails. They are comparatively examined in their capacity to explain mar­ket and organizational economic activity of men. The problem of needs of an “eco­no­mic man” is evoked and a theory of specifically human basic need is pro­po­sed as a solution to that problem; the structure of the hypothesized need cor­res­ponds to that of a specifically human activity defined along both technical and social criteria.

The SECOND CHAPTER Mediating Economic Transactions: The Psycho-Social Identity makes a distinction between two kinds of psycho­lo­gic phe­nomena turned into econo­mic factors: technical dispositions of maste­ring things’ attributes and social dispositions of mastering persons’ relations. It sta­tes that unlike the material production depending only on technical attributes of both producing and produced factors, the modern human production is de­ter­mi­ned also by the factors’ social relations. These latters are dealt in terms of psy­cho­social identity that is presented as the key-con­cept of the economic psychology.

Psychosocial identity is considered to be produced by an elaboration of not at­tributes (whether psychological characteristics of a person or socio­lo­gi­cal charac­teristics of his status) but relations. This elaboration is the so­cial ca­tegorization. It is from the early child­hood on mediated by an un­con­scious pro­cess of semiosis in which the child’s dif­fu­se vocal, motor, postural, va­so-mo­tor or other somatic, as well as developing be­havioral, verbal, intel­lec­tual and af­fective manifestations get sha­ped as signifying factors that are at­ta­ched to si­multaneously shaped social categories as their sig­nified factors so that si­mi­lar identity factors should be symbolized by simi­lar, and diffe­rent ones by dif­ferent symbols. In grown-up people this mecha­nism is a po­wer­ful one for di­verting their eco­no­mic behavior from the rationality norms of eco­no­mic man: this behavior’s acts get a symbolic va­lue and, thus, their des­tiny is strongly influenced by that of social identity they symbolize. At the sa­­me ti­me, objects of the economic behavior get allocated, according to a ter­rito­rial mechanism, to one or another social category (whether it is repre­sen­ted by a large or small group or just one per­son); the possession enables ow­ner(s) to and, respectively, disables others from well-defined economic activities.



II. Special Economic Psychology


The second volume is a sample of application of the general economic psychology’s above findings to various issues of both market and organization behavior.

The THIRD CHAPTER Managing Material and Human Resources deals with the economic psychology of manufacturing and purchasing goods, marketing and financing activity, management and development transactions, organizational and socializational behavior. Information management and knowledge economy are dealt with in more details, as approached by economic psychology. In contrast to economics, econo­mic psy­cho­logy does not consider information management as a merely control pro­cess but as one of the real processes in that system; on the other hand, in contrast to psy­cho­lo­gy, the economic psychology considers the knowledge economy a social and not an individual performan­ce, the monograph ar­gues. While the social iden­ti­ty is considered to be the main fac­tor me­dia­ting bet­ween individual and social matters, as well as between cont­rol and real processes, it is argued that at the same time it creates a new duality: between information and knowledge, on one hand, identity itself and the deed investing someone with that identity. This duality becomes consummate in that of contemporary universities with their bifurcation of the knowledge supply and the diploma supply.

The FOURTH CHAPTER Managing Human Resources: The Second Moderniza­tion”. The modernization is defined as a generalized tendency of artificial inter­ven­tion by the socio-economic system into na­tural processes in order to manufacture conditions that are necessary for its own functioning. Du­ring a first period, in the 18-19th century the modernization meant, on one hand, manufac­tu­ring the material fac­tors the system depended on, and, on the other, making the system independent of the human pheno­me­na that had not been produced by itself. However, from the end of the 19th century onwards the actual so­cio-economic sys­tem’s running has no longer been indepen­dent of the faculties and needs effective in the popu­lation, hence a second modernization imposed upon the socio-economic sys­tem the necessity of manufacturing (and not only exploiting) human (and not only material) conditions of its functioning.

This necessity is analyzed in terms of human capital invested either by one of the interes­ted parties (whether the one supplying the human poten­tial or the one demanding it) or the state. Possession relations of human ca­pital are analyzed in details, sin­ce the ca­pital invested by the state into the for­ma­tion of a per­son’s po­tential will be organically integrated in his bo­dy and mind, and will be insepa­ra­ble from the physical and mental faculties that we­re origi­nal­ly gi­ven to him.

In the aspect of manufacturing human conditions are investigated the tota­li­ta­rian sta­tes. They are clai­med to di­rect­ly apply the stra­­tegies of the 19-century lar­ge scale material pro­­ces­sing in­dus­t­ry in establishing a lar­ge scale hu­man pro­ces­­sing industry in 20th cen­tu­ry. It deals with that human condition, too, that is repre­sen­ted by the social identity marked by either competition or monopoly, a perfect (i.e. e., not dis­tur­bed by any monopoly) competition being as important a condition for a market economic sys­tem as is a perfect (i.e. e., not disturbed by any competition) monopoly for a planned economic organization.

Paradoxical consequences of such a hu­man pro­ces­­sing industry are evoked. When the relations of either competition or monopoly are concerned, the intact juxtaposition of both of them without any bias is nothing but their competition. On the other hand, when either the competition gets eradicated from a socio-economic system (conside­ring the necessities of a planned organization, as is the case for the Bolshevik type totalitarian sta­te), or the monopoly gets extirpated (in order to fit the needs of a market, as in case of a Fascist, a national-socialist kind totalitarian sta­te), the manufactured product is straight a monopoly.

However, the main difference between two types of totali­ta­rian sta­tes is dealt with in terms of difference between is­sues of that human processing in­dustry: those of a fascist type are claimed to establish a large scale industry for peo­ples attributes, while in Bol­she­vik type totalitarian societies their relations, too, get manufactured.

The FIFTH CHAPTER The Bolshevik-Type Version of the Second Modernization. Bolshevik type societies, instead of being investigated from either an ideological or a politological aspect, are approached, too, by the economic psychology. For such an approach, both structure and functioning of those societies are tested from the point of view of a human capital economy within the frame of the second modernization.

The second modernization’s basic dilemma is presented: the mo­re high­ly qualified human po­tential is involved the larger and lar­ger amount of capital is required for its manu­fac­turing – and, at the same ti­me, the lar­ger and larger autonomy is required for that human potential’s run­ning. As far as the required capital is ensured by the involvement of the Sta­te the autonomy turns out to be in short supply, but if the aspect of the au­to­nomy makes the state get out from the human business by charging the costs of human de­velop­ment to the individual’s account then capital will be scarce.

Therefore the organizing principle of these societies are not only bureaucracy setting social power to the office a person incidentally occupies but also charisma that sets it directly to the person as referred to his record. Being originated from 20th century’s radical anti-bureaucratic (illegal) mass movements, the charisma provides not only a leader but the whole headquarter of the revolutionary movement and even the whole party as its vanguard with a social power independently from anyone’s office. On the other hand, as far as this collective charisma is concerned, in Bolshevik-type structures the person gets (and loses) his glamour by being invested with (and, resp., dismissed from) a charisma just like with (from) an office: in order to get the social identity that is independent from any appointment one has to be appointed. This procedure of bureaucratically appointing someone to a collective charisma gets institutionalized in the Nomenklatura that links to each other the status of the functionary and the identity of the commissar. Such features of the Bolshevik type social structures, together with a self-establishing machinery of the de­mocratic centralism for the identity of those belonging to the Bolshevik type Party are claimed by the monograph to be psycho-economic devices for keeping in operation a peculiar processing industry whose final mass-pro­duct was, for a totalitarian state supplying the capital needed, a rather peculiar version of the autonomy needed: the complicity of the system’s victims. Both the functioning and crash of the Bolshevik type system are analyzed from the point of view of a paradoxical self-establishing psychosocial effect (as opposed to a self-undermining paradoxical effect of the fascist type tota­li­ta­rian sta­tes’ functioning).

Treating the Bolshevik-type organiza­tions’ structural dualism (that used to be best known as a “state and party leadership”) leads on to the closing SIXTH CHAPTER From the Post-Bolshevik Structures toward an Information-Processing Large-Scale Industry”. The Bolshevik-ty­pe twin-fea­tures are compared to the twin-structures of the information-processing (e.g., to the dua­lity of the information’s bearer and its place value). The Bolshevik-type structure that is made up of con­cen­tric circles is studied as an information processing device in which in­formation may tra­vel exclu­si­vely in centripetal and centrifugal directions whi­le its path is strictly blocked between the neighbo­ring but separate peripheral units of each ring (e.g. the primary party organizations). In such a struc­ture the center has a perfect control over the totality of the output informations; hence, this cen­ter is enabled to provide 1., the perfect protection of data; 2., the total control of addres­sees and 3., a virtual periphery set up around any of the concentric rings which can at any moment be sub­stituted by the center for the real one (it is the function of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984).

In this closing chapter of the monograph psycho-economical conditions of an in­for­mation eco­nomics are analyzed. The econo­mic psy­cho­logy

in contrast to economics, does not consider infor­mation processing as a merely control pro­cess but as one of the real processes in that system; and

in contrast to psy­cho­lo­gy, it considers in­for­ma­tion processing a social and not an individual per­for­man­ce,

the monograph ar­gues. Psy­cho-economical peculiarities of in­for­ma­tion’s property relations, as well as ap­propriation and alienation ope­ra­tions are analyzed within modern information management. The social iden­ti­ty pro­cessed by social categorization is considered the main fac­tor me­dia­ting bet­ween social and individual issues, as well as between cont­rol and real processes.

A new general tendency of materializing that so­cial cate­go­rization in societies’ new splitting in an elite and a mass is criti­cal­ly analyzed as a kind of a radical settling of the second modernization’s basic dilemma: this time both the capital required for manufacturing a high­ly qualified human po­tential and the autonomy that is required for its run­ning get focu­sed on the si­de of the elite, while on the side of the mass there is both factor’s lack. This asymmetry of identities within organization is paralleled by the monograph to markets with asymmetric information (Akerlof–Spence–Stiglitz).





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