Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sassen. 2007. The Sociology of Globalization.

Sassen begins by explaining that much of sociology takes the nation state as the basic unit of analysis, and this is inadequate for studying global processes and globalization. She calls into question two assumptions: "The first is the explicit or implicit assumption about the nation-state as the container of social process. The second is the implied correspondence of national territory with the national - the assumption that if a process of condition is located in a national institution or in national territory, it must be national" (p. 1). In other words, any social process takes place in an entire country and not outside of that country.

To study social processes that exceed national boundaries, or to study social processes that are subnational but are manifestations of globalization in a local area, Sassen argues we need new methodologies.

She identifies four dynamics one must understand to study globalization. First, that globalization destabilizes the nation state through "what is sometimes seen as a return to older imperial spatialities for the economic operations of of the most powerful actor: the formation of a global market for capital, a global trade regime, and the internationalization of manufacturing production" (p. 14). But she argues that this is not identical to old imperial formations because "today's transboundary spatialities have to be produced in a context in which most territory is encased in a thick and highly formalized national framework marked by the exclusive authority of the nation state" (p. 14).

She paints a picture of nation-states that "can be read as the work of rendering national just about all crucial features of society: authority, identity, territory, security, law, and market" (p. 15). Now added to that are subnational scales like global cities and supranational scales like global markets. This is not actorless. It is the "global project of powerful firms... and the growth of supranational components in state work" (p. 15).

Another wrinkle is the "multiscalar character of various global processes" (p. 17). She writes, "These instances cannot easily be accommdated by older nested hierarchies of scale, which position everything that is supranational above the state in the scalar hierarchy and everything that is subnational beneath the state" (p. 17). She gives an example of a financial center in a global city that is at once a local entity but also active in a global market.

Second, because "this variety of multiscalar dynamics point to conditions that cannot be organized as a hierarchy, let alone as a nested hierarchy...Studying the global, then, entails a focus not only on that which is explicitly global in scale but also on locally scaled practices and conditions that are articulated with global dynamics" (p. 18). For example, "globally scaled dynamics, such as the global capital market, are actually partially embedded in subnational sites (financial centers)" (p. 18). Studying this requires new methodologies and theorizations.

Third, Sassen writes about global cities. The choice of term was intended to point out "the specificity of the global as it gets structured in the contemporary city" (p. 24). She offers 5 hypotheses "to help explain the importance of cities in the institutionalization of global economic processes" (p. 25).
  1. "The greater the geographic dispersal of economic activities [of a corporation] along with their simultaneous integration through telecommunications, the greater the growth and importance of central corporate functions" (p. 25). Basically, if you've got an enormous global company, it takes more to manage it.
  2. "The more complex these central functions become, the more likely the headquarters of large global firms "outsource" them" (p. 25). So a large, global firm is likely going to outsource things like accounting, legal, PR, advertising, marketing, telecommunications, even manufacturing.
  3. "The more complex and globalized a specialized service firm's markets are, the more its central functions are subject to agglomeration economies" (p. 26). I think this means that the companies providing the outsourced services for multinational corporations need to be in cities because of all of the things they need that cities offer. Like if you're an advertising firm in New York you have better access to a pool of talent to hire than if you are an advertising firm in rural Iowa, your clients are more likely to have headquarters or offices in town, you're near an international airport, and so on, so it makes it easier to operate in NYC than rural Iowa.
  4. "The more headquarters outsource their most complex, nonstandardized functions, particularly those subject to uncertain and changing markets and speed, the freer they are to opt for any location because less of the work that is done in the headquarters is subject to agglomeration economies" (p. 26).
  5. "Insofar that these specialized service firms need to provide a global service... there is a strengthening of cross-border city-to-city transactions and networks" (p. 26) The result is "a series of transnational networks of cities. A corollory is that major business centers in the world today draw their importance from these transnational networks. There is no such entity as a single global city" (p. 27).

Putting all of this together, Sassen concludes that "this economy contains both the capabilities for enormous geographic dispersal and mobility and pronounced territorial concentration of resources necessary for the management and servicing of that dispersal. The management and the servicing of much of the global economic system take place in this growing network of global cities and cities or regions that are better described as having a limited number of global-city functions" (p. 27). She adds "To a large extent, the major business centers in the world today draw their importance from these transnational networks which, in turn, signals a division of functions" (p. 28).

Global cities weaken the national as the spatial unit and subnational scales (cities and regions) are growing in importance at the same time (p. 30). The cross-border dynamics cut across a number of domains - political, cultural, economic, social, and criminal (p. 29). Regulating these cross-border networks cannot necessarily be done by "existing national frameworks" (p. 30). For scholars, new theoretical and empirical frameworks are needed to understand them (p. 31).

Fourth, she writes about "denationalized state agendas and privatized norm making" (p. 32). Because processes and dynamics flow between "localities and local actors" without needing to "move through the hierarchies of national states," "although none of these circumstances alters the geographic boundaries of the national state's territory, they do change the meaning of the state's exclusive authority over that territory" (p. 33).

Sassen points out that the change in the role of the state is often explained through policies associated with economic globalization, such as privatization, deregulation, and financial and trade liberalization. This points to a weakening role of the state. She believes we should also capture how states participate in the creation of "the new frameworks through which globalization is furthered" and the "transformations inside the state" (p. 34).

A section I find particularly powerful reads as follows: "The emergent, often imposed consensus in the community of states on furthering globalization is not merely a political decision: it entails specific types of work by a number of distinct institutions in each country... Furthermore, this work has an ironic outcome insofar as it destabilizes some aspects of state power: the state can be seen as incorporating the global project of its own shrinking role in regulating economic transactions. The state here can be conceived of as representing a technical administrative capacity that cannot be replicated at this time by any other institutional arrangement; furthermore, this capacity is backed by military power, which for some states is a global power. Seen from the perspective of firms operating transnationally, the objective is to ensure the functions traditionally exercised by the state in the national realm of the economy, notably guaranteeing property rights and contracts, only now extended to foreign firms as well" (pp 37-38).

Sassen calls attention to three features in this "new private institutional order" (p. 39). First, "the distinctive features of this new, mostly but not exclusively private institutional order in formation are its capacity to privatize what was heretofore public and to denationalize what were once national authorities and policy agendas" (p. 39). Second, the new institutional order has a new normativity which "comes from the world of private power yet installs itself in the public realm and in so doing helps denationalize national state agendas" (p. 40). And third, "particular institutional components of the national state begin to function as the institutional home for the operation of powerful dynamics constitutive of what we could describe as global capital and global capital markets. In so doing, these state institutions reorient their particular policy work or broad state agendas toward the requirements of the global economy" (p. 40).

Sassen identifies areas of denationalizing of the national state as the increase in rights of foreign firms, the deregulation of cross-border transactions, and the power of supranational organizations (p. 53).

This is just a summary of the first chapter, with a tiny bit from the second.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Keck and Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders.

* Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K. (1998). Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press.

Keck and Sikkink focus their work on TANs - transnational advocacy networks, defined as including "those relevant actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information and services" (p. 2). They write:

"Such networks are most prevalent in issue areas characterized by high value content and informational uncertainty. At the core of the relationship is information exchange. What is novel in these networks is the ability of nontraditional international actors to mobilize information strategically to help create new issues and categories and to persuade, pressure, and gain leverage over much more powerful organizations and governments. Activist networks try not only to influence policy outcomes, but to transform the terms and nature of the debate... their goal is to change the behavior of states and of international organizations" (p. 2).

Then they write that TANs frame issues "to make the comprehensible to target audiences, to attract attention and encourage action, and to "fit" with favorable institutional venues" (p. 2-3). Interestingly, they refer to these networks as embodying "elements of agent and structure simultaneously" (p. 5). They are structures insofar as they are "patterns of interactions among organizations and individuals" but as actors the networks have agency (p. 5). Keck and Sikkink choose the term networks "to evoke the structured and structuring dimension in the actions of these complex agents, who not only participate in new areas of politics but also shape them" (p. 4).

Networks are "forms of organizations characterized by voluntary, reciprocal, and horizontal patterns of communication and exchange" (p. 8). The found that "Transnational advocacy networks appear most likely to emerge around those issues where (1) channels between domestic groups and their governments are blocked or hampered or where such channels are ineffective for resolving a conflict, setting into motion the "boomerang" pattern of influence characteristic of these networks... (2) activists or "political entrepreneurs" believe that networking will further their missions and campaigns, and actively promote networks; and (3) conferences and other forms of international contact create arenas for forming and strengthening networks" (p. 12).

The boomerang strategy (p. 12-13) is one in which an NGO in state A that cannot achieve its goals through domestic advocacy alone works with an NGO in state B. The foreign NGO then applies pressure to state B, which directly or through an intergovernmental organization applies pressure to state A. For example, this could occur in the case of human rights, when local activists cannot get their own government to end its repression, so they work with foreign activists. The foreign activists pressure their own government, which in turn puts pressure on the repressive government to improve its human rights record. In fact, Keck and Sikkink say this pattern is often used in human rights advocacy.

When using the boomerang strategy: "For the less powerful third world actors, networks provide access, leverage, and information (and often money) they could not expect to have on their own; for northern groups, they make credible the assertion that they are struggling with, and not only for, their southern partners. Not surprisingly, such relationships can produce considerable tensions" (p. 12-13).

Transnational advocacy networks work by using "the power of their information, ideas, and strategies to alter the information and value contexts within which states make policies" (p. 16). Keck and Sikkink divide their tactics into four categories: "(1) information politics, or the ability to quickly and credibly generate politically usable information and move it to where it will have the most impact; (2) symbolic politics, or the ability to call upon symbols, actions, or stories that make sense of a situation for an audience that is frequently far away; (3) leverage politics, or the ability to call upon powerful actors to affect a situation where weaker members of a network are unlikely to have influence; and (4) accountability politics, or the effort to hold powerful actors to their previously stated policies or principles" (p. 16).

The information in the first category, information politics, must be reliable, well-documented, timely, and dramatic (p. 19). They often rely on testimony "stories told by people whose lives have been affected" and then they often "interpret facts and testimony, usually framing issues simply, in terms of right and wrong" (p. 19). An example given of how activists dramatize the information is that they reframed what was called female circumcision as female genital mutilation, which "resituated the practice as a human rights violation" (p. 20). Activists find it important to link both testimony and technical and statistical information, because the testimony puts a human face on the statistics that motivates people to seek changed policies (p. 21).

Leverage politics find a way to link cooperation with them to money, trade, or prestige. Often they use shame, because "governments value the good opinion of others" (p. 23). In accountability politics, they try to get a government to publicly change their position on an issue and they pressure them to live up to their promises (p. 24).

Keck and Sikkink outline stages of network influence: "(1) issue creation and agenda setting; (2) influence on discursive positions of states and international organizations; (3) influence on institutional procedures; (4) influence on policy change in "target actors" which may be states, international organizations like the World Bank, or private actors like the Nestle Corporation; and (5) influence on state behavior" (p. 25).

They found that TANs are most effective when two characteristics are present: "(1) issues involving bodily harm to vulnerable individuals, especially when there is a short and clear causal chain (or story) assigning responsibility; and (2) issues involving legal equality of opportunity" (p. 27).

This is just a synopsis of the book's introduction. What follows are three case studies of human rights, environmental, and anti violence against women networks.

Kay. 2005. Labor Transnationalism and Global Governance

Kay, Tamara. 2005. Labor Transnationalism and Global Governance: The Impact of NAFTA on Transnational Labor Relationships in North America. American Journal of Sociology Vol. 111 No 3 pp. 715–56

Kay applies political process theory to transnational activism, specifically to a case of labor activism and NAFTA. Political process theory was developed for national social movements. It relies on the concept of political opportunity structures. Kay makes the point that political process theory's ideas about political opportunity structures are specific to national activism. Transnational activism also has political opportunity structures, but they are different from national social movements.

Kay writes:

"Synthesizing key scholars’ conceptualization of the term, McAdam (1996, p. 27) highlights four primary dimensions of political opportunity at the national level: (1) the relative openness or closure of the institutionalized political system, (2) the stability or instability of elite political alignments, (3) the presence or absence of elite allies, and (4) the state’s capacity and propensity for repression" (p. 721-722).

These factors require a state: repression by the state, the political parties within a state, and electoral politics within the state. In the case of transnational activism, Kay says, the political opportunity structure is not determined by a state. Additionally, the four dimensions named above assume one nation state, and in the case of NAFTA there are three.

This seems specific to the types of activism Kay is referring to in which there is an global governance institution that creates the arena for activism. In cases where transnational activism uses a boomerang strategy (Keck and Sikkink) to target one state government using activism from abroad, there are multiple states involved, or at least activists in multiple states who are perhaps targeting just one state, but there may not be a global governance institution involved.

In the case of NAFTA and other political opportunity structures created by global governance institutions, Kay's work applies. NAFTA has no elected representatives or political parties nor does it have a capacity for repression. Kay identifies three dimensions of political opportunity structures at the transnational level:

"Here I offer three primary dimensions of political opportunity structure at the transnational level that explain how power is established at the transnational level: (1) the constitution of transnational actors and interests, (2) the definition and recognition of transnational rights, and (3) adjudication of rights at the transnational level" (p. 722). She adds that "At the transnational level, political opportunity structures are embedded in rules and bureaucratic processes rather than electoral processes" (p. 723).

In the case of NAFTA and its labor agreement NAALC, their creation created transnational actors and interests. Previously, labor activists in each nation saw their interests as purely national. Activists in each nation wanted to keep the jobs in their own country, and saw labor in other nations as competition. Each nation has its own labor laws, institutions, and adjudication processes. Essentially, the arena for activism was purely national. When NAFTA was under negotiation, this changed. Suddenly labor activists in all three nations had a common interest - opposing NAFTA - and they began working together as transnational actors to oppose it. Following its passage and implementation, they continued to have shared interests in protecting and expanding labor rights in all three NAFTA countries. Or, as Kay describes the shifting of interests from national to transnational: "The goal of the campaign was not to keep jobs in the United States; rather, it was to maintain decent labor rights and standards in North America" (p. 730).

Part of the reason for the continued activism after the passage of NAFTA was newly established adjudication process through which activists could file complaints against labor violations in the three NAFTA nations. The complaints must be filed outside one's own country. In order to file complaints, activists in the country in which the labor violation occurred worked with activists in the nation where they were filing the complaint.

Thus, the creation of NAFTA established both a definition of transnational rights - the labor standards that the three NAFTA nations were to uphold, giving rights to labor in all three nations - and an adjudication process at the transnational level when violations occurred.

Kay writes, in summary:

"In this article I show how global governance institutions facilitate a process that constitutes transnational actors and interests. NAFTA forced labor unions in all three countries to recognize the common threat to North American workers if the free trade agreement stimulated a reduc- tion in jobs and wages and in health, safety, and environmental standards. Although it is commonly thought that NAFTA only created a common market, my data suggest that it also created a transnational political opportunity structure through which national unions in North America could identify their common interests as North American unions and advocate for them by developing a transnational political action field.

"The second dimension of transnational political opportunity structures expands upon the first by emphasizing the importance of defining and recognizing transnational actors’ and social movements’ rights in the transnational arena. This dimension is similar to Tilly’s (1984) assertion that national social movements target nation-states because they have the power to grant or deny legitimacy. In the transnational arena, global governance institutions have the same power" (p. 723).

Kay also introduces two other terms, political mobilization effect and institutional effect.

The political mobilization effect occurred when the threat of NAFTA created a common interest (preventing its passage) among labor activists in all three nations. The institutional effect occurred when NAFTA created institutions that "define and recognize transnational rights, and adjudicate violations of these rights at the transnational level" (p. 724).

Kay provides five stages in a process of creating a cooperative transnational relationship and institution building: "(1) contact, (2) interaction and the coalescing of interests, (3) growth of confidence and trust, (4) action (e.g., joint activities and actions to address mutual needs and interests), and (5) identification (e.g., recognizing mutual interests)." (p. 725).

In her case study of three unions that work together, one from each of the three NAFTA nations, she provides examples of how the three unions work together. They initially worked to oppose NAFTA. After its passage, they worked to organize workers in Mexican factories; they set up a fund for striking workers in Mexico; they worked together to organize Mexican workers in the U.S.; and they worked together to file complaints when labor violations occurred in any of the three nations.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Biersteker. 1994. "The Triumph of Liberal Economic Ideas in the Developing World."

* Biersteker, Thomas. 1994. "The Triumph of Liberal Economic Ideas in the Developing World." in Global Change, Regional Response: The New International Context of Development, edited by Barbara Stallings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biersteker describes the world before neoliberalism as an era of global Fordism, "a regime of accumulation characterized by mass production, a sharing of value added between capital and labor, and corporate profit stability" (p. 193). This was combined with embedded liberalism - "Keynesian intervention, extensive social legislation, and the construction of the welfare state" (p. 193).

Both Bierstaker and Harvey refer to the 1950s and 1960s as embedded liberalism, and both say that it began to fall part with the stagflation of the 1970s. Harvey points to a backlash from elites who did not like having a smaller share of the pie during the 1950s and 1960s, who used neoliberalism as a tool to increase their own wealth and power. Biersteker does not.

Biersteker says that the 1960s and 1970s were decades of "unprecedented economic nationalism, a growing role for state intervention in the economy, and experimentation with variants of socialism and self-reliance" (p. 174). The development thinking of the 1970s was basically dependency theory: "A basic premise of much development thinking during this period was that the structure of international economic relations was biased against the countries of the developing world. The structure of the international system, rather than characteristics internal to developing countries, was identified as the principle source of underdevelopment. Development was viewed as qualitatively, even profoundly, different in the North and South, to the extent that laws of neoclassical economics were assumed not to apply equally in the developing world" (p. 176).

To get from there to neoliberalism, Biersteker points to a confluence of ideas, interests, and institutions needed to bring a new school of development thinking to the fore. He says the biggest shift was the notion that "the principal obstacle to development was to be found within developing countries themselves" (p. 177). Modernization Theory also blames underdeveloped nations for their own underdevelopment, but Modernization Theory blames their traditional values. Neoliberalism instead blames it on "decades of unwise government intervention in the economy... Violation of the basic (universal) laws of neoclassical economics was considered the source of the main problems" (p. 177).

Under neoliberalism "development was increasingly defined in terms of the growth of productive capacity, and concerns with distribution and the provision of basic needs were shunted to the side - at least for the time being. The first imperative of development was to eliminate the distortions of state intervention and enable the "magic of the market" to run its course." (p. 178). This meant a shift away from ISI (import substitution industrialization) toward promoting exports of any kind (industrial products or otherwise). Here, Biersteker gives an explanation of the policies that essentially make up the Washington Consensus - currency devaluation to promote exports, trade liberalization, cutting subsidies,

Within academia, neoliberalism "gained new force, visibility, and legitimacy" during the late 1970s and early 1980s (p. 183). That alone did not lead developing nations around the world to adopt neoliberalism. What ultimately did it was the global recession of the early 1980s. Biersteker mentions a number of factors, including a collapse in commodity prices, and says "Because this system-wide shock was transmitted to different parts of the developing world through various filtering mechanisms, depending on their mode of integration with the world economy, it affected different countries in different ways at different times" (p. 185). This goes to his point that the adoption of neoliberalism was uneven.

However, the recession of the early 1980s coincided with a sense that "the policies of the past had not worked and something new should be considered" (p. 185). But the ideas needed interests and institutional bases of support. It was the IMF and the World Bank who gave these ideas a "crucial international backing" (p. 186).

Here's how Biersteker sums it up:

"On reflection, three factors were especially important: (1) the shock of the early 1980s recession, (2) the fact that the system-wide shock coincided with a historical opening because of the perceived failure of the policies of the past, and (3) the presence of a reinvigorated set of liberal economic ideas, backed by critically placed domestic interests within the state and reinforced strongly by international institutions" (p. 186-187).

I am mentally interpreting that as more or less the same as David Harvey's summary of it - that the embedded liberalism of the 1950s and 1960s were no longer working by the time the stagflation of the 1970s hit, so something else was needed, and banks were awash with petrodollars that they were loaning willy nilly to developing nations' governments, so when the Volcker shock hit, many countries were unable to pay back their loans, and the IMF hit them with structural adjustment programs requiring them to implement neoliberal economic policies.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Williamson. 1993. Democracy and the "Washington Consensus."

Williamson, John. 1993. "Development and the "Washington Consensus"." World Development 21(8):1329-36.

Three years after outlining the Washington Consensus, Williamson published again. He begins by walking back his term "Washington Consensus" and suggesting a better name is "universal convergence." Of course, the former stuck and the latter did not.

He notes that he intended to capture what was "conventionally thought to be wise" rather than his own opinion of what was wise, but adds that he agrees with it himself. However, if he were writing up a list of his own opinions, he says it would have been a bigger list because he would have added an equity component. He left out anything redistributive because he felt Washington at the top would have opposed it. I find it interesting that he conflates equity and redistribution of wealth.

Williamson sees the Washington Consensus as good economic sense that ought to cease to be political. He compares the matter to a political party taking the position that the world is flat, or promoting racism. There is no good reason any party should take the position that the earth is flat, because we all know it isn't. There is no reason to have a pro-racism party just for the sake of ideological diversity because racism is wrong. He sees any alternative to the Washington Consensus as equally irrelevant or harmful in politics. He adds that having a stable agreement among political leaders in favor of the Washington Consensus over time is necessary because it will encourage the wealthy to repatriate their money since they have confident that the current, wise economic policies of the day are going to last over time.

I just want to add here that this is infuriating nonsense. Williamson is trying to depoliticize a radical economic agenda that absolutely is and should be seen as political.

He goes on to slightly walk back his idea that the Washington Consensus should be universally accepted by all political parties by noting a few reasons why it must be open for debate. First, because any sort of suppression of debate will create a situation ripe for conspiracy theorists. Second, because there should be some degree of debate in order to assess whether the current conventional wisdom ought to remain so in the future. If there is no debate about the Washington Consensus, then we lose the ability to adapt it to future needs or improve it over time. He concludes: "Thus my position is not that democracy should be in any way circumscribed so as to promote good economic policy, but rather that both economic policy and democracy will benefit if all mainstream politicians endorse the universal convergence and the scope of political debate on economic issues is de facto circumscribed in consequence" (p. 1331).

Williamson sees the old debates over economic policy as irrelevant. Neoliberalism has won out as the "correct" way to run an economy, and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Greed should be harnessed in a competitive market because altruism does not work, and socialism does not work. He sounds like he's been reading Ayn Rand. It's also interesting that he doesn't mention Keynesian economics here as a potential alternative to neoliberalism. Either you're with him, or you're a socialist, and if you're a socialist, you are wrong. The collapse of the Soviet bloc proves that.

Honestly, I don't see the need to keep reading this article. He's not going to say anything new worth reading.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Williamson. 1990. "What Washington Means by Policy Reform."

Williamson, John. 2002 [1990]. "What Washington Means by Policy Reform." in Latin American Adjustment: How Much Has Happened?

This is the paper in which Williamson coined the term "Washington Consensus." The Washington Consensus are 10 economic policies central to neoliberalism. Although neoliberalism is - and should be - controversial, in the U.S. it became economic orthodoxy with the election of Reagan. When I took economics in business school, I was taught the tenets of neoliberalism simply as "the truth" without being told that the version of economics I was learning was simply one school of economics, and a controversial one at that. The most my professor actually acknowledged that there were alternatives to neoliberalism or that some people disagree with neoliberalism was when she gave us a list of arguments against neoliberalism and neoliberal counterarguments for why they were wrong. One facet of neoliberalism is that it is often depolicitized and presented as simply a technocratic solution to technical economic issues, as it was in my economics class. It took quite a bit of work on my part after graduation to figure out on my own why I strongly disagree with neoliberalism. David Harvey says that neoliberalism is essentially a set of economic policies designed to give a greater share of wealth to the one percent, and the economic justifications for it are more or less bullshit. Basically, he's saying that what is sold to us as "trickle down" economics is actually "trickle up."

Williamson begins referring to the debt crisis in Latin America, and to statements being made at the time about how Latin American nations in economic turmoil needed to "set their houses in order" or "undertake policy reforms." What is meant by that? Williamson's goal is to explain what is meant by that. He has 10 "policy instruments" that he believes both politicians in Washington and technocrats in Washington could all agree to, although in a few cases he has his own suggestions for improving them.

Williamson notes that Washington does not always practice what it preaches to foreigners. This point deserves unpacking. Neoliberal economic policies are painful and often politically unpopular. In Chile they were forced upon the population by a brutal, autocratic regime. In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein speculates that the only way to inflict neoliberalism on a population is through repression, and that the Thatcher and Reagan implementations of neoliberalism were watered down because neither the UK or the US combined them with the brutal tactics that Pinochet used in Chile.

Here are the 10 policy instruments of the Washington Consensus:
  1. Fiscal discipline: Avoid budget deficits. Williamson declares that Keynesians who believe in a positive role for budget deficits are "almost extinct as a species." The differences that now exist, he believes, are over whether fiscal discipline requires a balanced budget or whether limited deficit spending is acceptable.
  2. Reducing Public Expenditures: This goes hand in hand with fiscal discipline. If a nation is aiming to balance its budget or reduce its deficit, it can either increase revenues or decrease spending. Williamson traces the preference for reducing spending to the supply-side economics of the Reagan era. Within the U.S. and particularly on the political right, cutting spending is preferred over raising taxes. Internationally, he believes the debate is more over finding the correct "composition of public expenditures." Often, international technocrats believe that decisions over military spending are the right of sovereign nations and thereby off-limits for international institutions to interfere with. There are three categories where Williamson believes everyone agrees: subsidies, education and health, and public investment. Subsidies should be reduced or ideally eliminated. Education and health expenditures, on the other hand, are seen as necessary. The question is what kind of spending on education and health. In developing nations, primary schools are seen as more necessary than universities, and primary health care (especially prevention) is more necessary than state of the art hospitals in the capital city. In general, the Washington Consensus calls for education and health spending that benefit the disadvantaged. In the case of public infrastructure investment, Williamson says that the belief that the public sector tends to be too large coexists with the view that spending on public infrastructure should be large. Therefore, he says, this adds up to a general belief that public spending should involve redirecting money from subsidies to education and health and public infrastructure. Williamson says his own belief is that there are circumstances in which carefully targeted subsidies can be beneficial, so he would like to see nations keep subsidies when they can find a "convincing explicit justification" for them.
  3. Tax Reform: The other way to cut a budget deficit is through raising taxes. Although politicians in Washington as well as right-wing think tanks are averse to raising taxes, the rest of "technocratic Washington" is OK with them provided they are done in what they believe is the right way. Williamson says the consensus is that the tax base should be broad and marginal tax rates should be moderate.
  4. Interest Rates: Interest rates should be determined by the market, and real interest rates should be positive to discourage capital fight and increase savings. Williamson adds he believes interest rates should be positive but moderate.
  5. Exchange Rates: For developing countries, Williamson believes the consensus is that "the real exchange rate needs to be sufficiently competitive to promote a rate of export growth that will allow the economy to grow at the maximum rate permitted by its supply-side potential, while keeping the current account deficit to a size that can be financed on a sustainable basis." In other words, if a nation is trying to promote export growth, then it wants its goods to be inexpensive compared to other nations. That means a relatively weak currency is better. The question is, how weak is optimal. Much of the rest of what Williamson says here aims to specify exactly that: How weak should your currency be to maximize exports without actually hurting your economy? (One flipside to a weak currency is that when exports are cheaper for foreign buyers, imports are more expensive for your own people.)
  6. Import Liberalization: In short, he's calling for free trade. Let all of the imports in. Get rid of tariffs. He offers two qualifications. First, infant industries "may merit substantial but strictly temporary protection." Second, it's unreasonable to dismantle all protectionist policies overnight. Therefore, a nation adopting free trade policies may do so gradually.
  7. Foreign Direct Investment: Don't limit foreign direct investment.
  8. Privatization: Neoliberals believe that private industry is more efficient than state enterprises (businesses owned and run by the state), and therefore the state should privatize as much as possible.
  9. Deregulation: In short, deregulation is good. Williamson does not mention safety or environmental regulation here. Instead he discusses price controls, restrictions on foreign investment and remittances, import barriers, limits on firing employees, etc. To a neoliberal, all of these represent market distortions.
  10. Property Rights: The state must protect private property rights.

In conclusion, Williamson says, "The economic policies that Washington urges on the rest of the world may be summarized as prudent macroeconomic policies, outward orientation, and free-market capitalism." What I find notable here is how depoliticized and technocratic he presents neoliberal policies as, when in fact they are nothing of the sort.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Cooper and Packard, Revisited

I've already written up a summary of Cooper, Fred and Randall Packard. 1997. “Introduction” in Cooper and Packard, International development and the social sciences: essays on the history and politics of knowledge.

I'm revisiting it as I study to re-take the prelim. I'm not going to summarize the entire article this time. Instead I am focusing on the particular details pertinent to the question I will need to answer on my test.

I found this quote very powerful:

"The state in "less developed countries" and international agencies such as the World Bank each find a role by accepting each other's: the national government allocates development resources and portrays itself as the agent of modernity, while outside agencies legitimately intervene in sovereign states by defining their services as benevolent, technical, and politically neutral. Both are content with development as a process which depoliticizes and disempowers local populations; both portray poverty as "aboriginal," disconnected from the history which gave rise to unequal access to resources; both are content with an expertise-driven structure of development; both are reinforced by failure as much as success" (p. 3).

It's summarizing the ideas of Ferguson (1990) and it appears to be lobbed at neoliberalism in particular.

I also like the point that the concept of development is ambiguous "eliding in a single concept the notions of increased output and improved welfare" (p. 4).

Cooper and Packard then get into history, beginning with how Great Britain and France turned to development as an idea that would carry forward their interests in the Global South once colonialism began to be challenged.

Here is a quote I like that seems to be particularly lobbed at modernization theory and perhaps neoliberalism:

"Within particular domains the development construct has become a framework that rationalizes and naturalizes the power of advanced capitalism in progressivist terms - as the engine bringing those on the bottom "up" toward those who are already there" (p. 12).

This article also has some useful critique of dependency theory:
"While there was wide consensus on the importance of trends in the global economy, simple Marxist explanations based on the logic of global capitalism or the power of dominant classes runs into the problem that development interventions appear precisely where the logic of capitalism fails to produce results that political elites desire" (p. 20).

Much of the article focuses on how various development theories came about and gained acceptance or lost favor. While it's an interesting and useful article, that isn't what I'll need to write about on my exam.

Another interesting bit, this one on neoliberalism, says:

"The strong stress on market discipline sits rather uneasily with the other major trend among the powerful development institutions: their concern with "governance" and the imposition of political conditions - some from of democratization - on the provision of aid. Compelling as many of the critiques of government corruption, clientelism, and incompetence are, it is not clear that imposed austerity helps build political capacity" (p. 22). "The insistence on "good government" reproduces much that was previously said about the "good economy": a bland assertion that the West has defined objective standards for others to meet, a generalized set of categories (elections, multiple parties) that define those standards, irrespective of the actual debates that might be going on in specific contexts over how more people might acquire meaningful voice in their own lives" (p. 23).

I stopped reading at page 24.

Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press. E-book.

I've read only the introduction and first chapter of this book. I think it basically gets the point across as well as I am going to need for my exam.

Harvey's points are simple. In the post-World War II era of the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. and European nations set up states based on 'embedded liberalism.' The state served to promote the well-being of the people through public services, regulations, and a social safety net. The government was to work toward "full employment, economic growth, and the well-being of its citizens" and it was OK for the state to intervene in the market to achieve this (p. 11).

This worked well until the 1970s, when there was unemployment and inflation, leading to fiscal crises. The Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates was no longer working, and the fixed exchange rates were abandoned in 1971.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest segment of society did not like that it had been losing its share of power and wealth during the decades of embedded liberalism (p. 15). Harvey says neoliberalism is essentially a class project to restore power and dominance to wealthy elites (p. 16). Insofar as it is an economic theory, it is contradictory and more or less a thinly veiled attempt to help elites consolidate money and power at the expense of everyone else.

So what is neoliberalism?

"Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can be best advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade" (p. 2).

"We can therefore, interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation [i.e. the rich getting richer] and to restore the power of economic elites" (p. 19). Harvey sees it as the latter, and says that "the neoliberal argument has... primarily worked as a system of justification and legitimization for whatever is needed to be done to achieve this goal" (p. 19).
In short, the state should do what is needed to allow markets to function unimpeded and then get out of the way. In theory, the state can never have all of the information needed to make perfect decisions the way markets can. In practice, says Harvey, neoliberalism leads to a greater share of wealth trickling up to the wealthiest people in society, and to monopolies. Therefore, the idea that getting the state out of the way will lead to perfectly competitive markets is not correct.

Neoliberals base the ideas on human dignity and freedom. They equate freedom with individual freedom to make decisions - unfettered by state interference - and personal responsibility. He cites Margaret Thatcher claiming there is no society, only individual men and women. And because there are only individuals and no collective, neoliberalism calls for the end of "all forms of social solidarity" (p. 23) like trade unions, public enterprises, and the welfare state. He writes, "All forms of social solidarity were to be dissolved in favour of individualism, private property, personal responsibility, and family values" (p. 23).

As to history, the intellectual roots of neoliberalism trace back to a small group of economists, philosophers, and others that first met in 1947. Their ideas went back to neo-classical economics and stood in opposition to the reigning Keynesianism. The first major implementation of neoliberal economics he cites occurred in Chile in 1973 after Pinochet's coup. It achieved some legitimization in the 1970s when prominent neoliberals won Nobel Prizes for economics (Hayek in 1974, Milton Friedman in 1976). Carter took some steps toward neoliberalism, but it was Thatcher, Reagan, and the 1979 Volcker shock that really catapulted it forward.

He explains the Volcker shock as follows. The 1973 OPEC embargo and oil price hike left OPEC nations awash in petrodollars. The US was secretly planning to invade in 1973 but instead it made a deal with Saudi Arabia to get them to send all of their petrodollars to U.S. investment banks (p. 27). With so much money coming in, the investment banks needed to do something with it. They looked to foreign governments, giving out loans to nations all over the global south.

In 1979, Paul Volcker, chair of the Fed, ended Keynesian policies aimed at full employment in favor of policies intended to curb inflation at all costs regardless of the consequences to employment. Doing this raised interest rates practically overnight. Many developing nations were unable to repay their debts. That is the Volcker shock.

Harvey says that under a liberal regime, a bank that made a bad loan would be stuck taking the loss. Under a neoliberal regime, "the borrowers are forced by state and international powers to take on board the cost of debt repayment no matter what the consequences for the livelihood and well-being of the local population" (p. 29).

The first "major test case" following the Volcker shock was when Mexico defaulted on its owns in 1982-4 (p. 29). The IMF made a deal with them to "roll over the debt, but did so in return for neoliberal reforms" (p. 29). This was the first of the "structural adjustment programs" (SAPs), the set of neoliberal conditions imposed on any country accepting a bail out from the IMF. The policies included are codified as "the Washington Consensus" and they generally involve privatization, deregulation, austerity, and free trade. Often public services are cut, and populations suffer when SAPs are imposed.

Harvey adds that the consolidation of power and wealth to elites in the U.S. and Europe did not just come from taking a larger share of the pie within their own countries. SAPs and neoliberalism meant they were also extracting surpluses from the Global South as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

“The Underdevelopment of Development Literature: The Case of Dependency Theory” by Tony Smith (1979)

Smith (1979) “The Underdevelopment of Development Literature: The Case of Dependency Theory” World Politics (a critique of Dependency Theory)

The Smith article is a critique of development theory that I partially read months ago and stopped reading because I thought it was bullshit. I now think that it's likely something I should know about for my prelim exam because I'll need to describe the critiques of dependency theory.

Smith says that what we call dependency theory is actually a body of work with disagreements and contradictions within it, but the shared feature of all dependency theoriests is their "insistence that it is not internal characteristics of particular countries so much as the structure of the international system - particularly in its economic aspect - that is the key variable to be studied in order to understand the form that development has taken in non-communist industrializing countries" (p. 248). Additionally, dependency theorists examine both political and economic forces, and "it often identifies itself as being unambiguously on the side of change in the South in order to benefit the poorest and most oppressed members of society there" (p. 248). Additionally, dependency theorists believe that "contemporary political and economic change in the South must be understood as aspects of imperialism today and yesterday" (p. 248).

Smith goes on to say that dependency theory is not just a theory - it's an ideology and a basis for political action. This is somewhat fair but not entirely. Dependency theory highlights inequality and exploitation in the world. That's all it does. However, if you believe it is an accurate theory, for most people, it would follow that they oppose inequality and exploitation. But the theory itself does not call for political action - it's simply an analysis of the world as it exists.

Smith then introduces the main subject of his paper: Ripping dependency theory a new one. And his main argument: Dependency theory overestimates the impacts of imperialism.

He states that dependency theorists believe that integration in the global economy is harmful rather than beneficial to nations in the periphery. He says they don't provide evidence, and analysis actually shows that integration into the global economy boosts a nation's economic growth. However, dependency theorists do not simply look at economic growth as a whole (for example, in terms of GDP). They analyze the relationships between the various classes and actors within a society. For example, Peter Evans in Dependent Development writes at length about the state, foreign capital, local elites, and the working class. He makes clear that dependent development tends to be a fairly profitable arrangement for foreign capital, the state, and local elites. I don't think GDP growth in a national economy proves any part of Evans' argument wrong. Foreign capital and local elites can still profit - and the nation can even industrialize - while the nation remains dependent and the working class and peasant remain poor.

Smith cites Cardoso and the idea that even when industrialization takes place in the periphery, because it is controlled by multinational corporations, it is still not a net benefit to the peripheral nation, and dependency prevents self-sustaining industrialization.

He also writes, "Too many writers of this school make the mistake of assuming that since the whole (in this case the international system is greater than the sum of its parts (the constituent states, the parts lead no significant existence separate from the whole, but operate simply in functionally specific manners as a result of their place in the greater system" (p. 252).

Smith refers to this as "the tyranny of the whole over the parts."

On p. 255, Smith uses India as an example to illustrate his point. Baran claimed that Great Britain impeded India's progress by colonizing it. Smith says he lacks evidence AND that we don't know what would have happened if Britain did NOT colonize India. Maybe they'd still be poor? I take issue with this. Yes, I will grant him, we don't know what would have happened without colonialism. However, we do know what did happen (and I'd refer anyone who is unsure of it to the book Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis). Great Britain extracted wealth and raw materials from India, contributing to and worsening massive famines at the end of the 19th C (as millions of Indians were starving, England was exporting record amounts of wheat from India). They taxed Indians to finance British wars, and forced them into growing crops desired for export to England instead of growing crops for their own uses. Indians shifted from growing legumes (pulses, as they call them) to more wheat and cotton. The former fixes nitrogen in the soil and the latter pulls nitrogen out of the soil, so the shift in cropping patterns led to ecological problems.

Great Britain used India and the U.S. as sources of cotton for the textile industry in Manchester, but prevented India from developing its own industrialized textile industry. Britain used this exploitative relationship long enough to shelter its own textile industry enough that its factory-made textiles, even with the cost of shipping, could out-compete handmade textiles from India. Even the much lauded railroads built by Great Britain in India served mostly to take food away from areas with hungry people during the years of famine. There is absolutely no way to look at the mountain of evidence of Great Britain extracting wealth from India while preventing it from industrializing and conclude that anything else happened there.

While it's true that we don't know what the historical alternatives could have looked like, and if any of them might have been better or worse, it's dishonest to pretend that what happened didn't. Sociologists are concerned with the world as it exists, and in the world that exists, Great Britain colonized and exploited India in a way very accurate described by dependency theorists.

Smith then takes up the case of Japan. Japan wasn't colonized. Japan did OK. Maybe, says Smith, there is something about Japan that made it able to both avoid colonization and to industrialize (p. 257). And that is something internal to Japan, not having to do with the world system outside of it. I think it's likely that it's both factors internal to Japan was well as external ones that allowed it to avoid colonization. However, I don't think it follows that dependency theory is wrong. We still have an entire world of examples of colonized nations that ended up dependent, and if Japan was not colonized and is not dependent, I don't think that disproves dependency theory. Even if the point is valid that factors internal within nations play a role in their development, I don't think that disproves dependency theory. As a whole, I don't see how you can look at the mountain of evidence piled up showing that imperialism led to the core exploiting a dependent periphery and somehow conclude that imperialism did not play a defining role in the creation of that system.

I don't think I'm going to read any more of this article, because I feel like I've got the gist of his argument, and his argument is dumb.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Evans and Stephens, Revisited

I am studying to retake my Sociology of Development prelim. I'm revisiting a reading I blogged before called Development and the World Economy by Evans and Stephens (1988). Pardon me for the repeated post. It helps me comprehend and remember the material to write it up. My thoughts here are geared specifically for answering the question I will need to answer on my prelim, which is roughly how various development theories explain inequalities in the world, and then to provide critique and discussion for the validity of each.

Peter Evans is the author of Dependent Development, published in 1979, which is about dependency theory, specifically in cases where the dependent nation begins to industrialize but remains dependent (hence: dependent development). At the time, Brazil was one of only a few countries exhibiting dependent development; one could say there are more today. I will cover his work in another post, but I mention it here because his perspective is important as we consider what he says about the various theories of development he chronicles in this piece.

Modernization Theory
They begin with critiques of modernization theory:

  1. Modernization theory is a universal theory based on the experience of a single country, and that's problematic. (p. 739) "Our industrialization was taken as a model, both normatively and theoretically, and the principal issue was how the model might be extended to others with different histories, social structures, and cultural traditions" (p. 741). Parsonian structural-functionalism, based on America, was taken as a theoretical underpinning for modernization theory. See below for more.
  2. Modernization theory provided an explanation that was "actorless" - trends like urbanization and bureaucratic are not explained as being driven by interests of states, corporations, or any other social actors. (p. 739)
  3. Modernization theory ignores the possibility that 20th century development patterns were different from those of previous centuries. (p. 739)
  4. It allows for tension and conflict during the process of development.
  5. It does not consider there may be conflicts of interest between developed and developing countries.
  6. It does not consider each nation's position in the interrelationships between countries. Except for accounting for nations influencing one another via the demonstration effect, it treats each nation as existing in a vacuum, which is not accurate. For nations with a recent colonial past, this means ignoring parts of their history that have been very influential to their present day reality.

An important point in comparing modernization and dependency theory is that dependency theory turns modernization theory "on its head" (p. 740). The former claims that ties between the periphery and core are beneficial because development will be transmitted via diffusion. The latter views ties between the periphery and core as roadblocks to development in the periphery.

Why did Modernization Theory blow it in terms of its theoretical underpinnings? (p. 741) In part because they used Parsonian theory. Parsonian theory used some Weberian theory but left crucial ideas of Weber out (notably his "historical materialist" side). It used Weber's idea of increasing rationality as "the definition of movement toward modernity" but defined rationality solely as bureaucracy but left out Weber's idea of centralization of power and domination of social groups. It also left out Weber's view of the evolution of capitalism (i.e the Protestant ethic). Modernization theory also uses Durkheim's idea of the differentiation of different functions in society as a master process of development. They also believed that preservation of organic unity in society was important as industrialization occurred in the Global South, as it had been in the Global North.

Evans and Stephens say "The resultant prescription for the citizens of the underdeveloped world and those who would assist them was to find ways of inculcating the attitudes purported to prevail in advanced capitalist countries without being overwhelmed by the tensions created by such drastic value change" (p. 742). In other words, the people of the Global South needed to adopt Western attitudes and values in order to develop, and they must do so at a pace and in a way that did not tear their society apart.

Evans and Stephens say the perspective of modernization theory is an easy fit with neoclassical economics. Universalism is needed to make the market work, and people must leave their traditional ways in order to participate fully in the market. Politically, the assumption was that since the Global South was to mimic the economic system of the Global North, it should adopt the political system as well. This is where the critique that modernization theory fails to analyze class structure fits in. Evans believes that actually repressive regimes are most fitting for nations undergoing dependent development because the state needs to keep wages low to attract multinational corporations to operate in their country, and because the local elite will be wealthy, partnering with international capital and consuming luxury goods, whereas the masses will be excluded from the benefits of development, and the state requires the use of violence to maintain such a system. Furthermore, he says a parliamentary system is used to create consensus among various factions of the bourgeois and nations undergoing dependent development will have a large working class and a politically weak bourgeoisie, making parliamentary government incompatible with their needs. Evans wrote his book during the dictatorships in the Southern Cone, so perhaps a more updated analysis would find a different answer. Either way, analysis of different classes and actors vying for power is an important part of Evans' analysis and it is totally absent here. Perhaps that is where his critique of modernization theory as actorless comes from.

Evans and Stephens seem to praise it for allowing for conflict during the development process. For example, if one modernization process occurs faster than another, there may be tension between the two.

However, they are critical of it for assuming the development trajectory of all nations will follow that of the U.S. and Europe. They say modernization theory sees any deviations from that trajectory as aberrations to be corrected rather than data points that should be used to inform and revise the theory. They also criticize it as ethnocentric because unique cultures are seen as "only obstacles to be overcome" that are replaced by Western values (p. 742).

Evans and Stephens think the fix for modernization theory would be to include Marxist theory, which would examine actors with conflicting interests and examine the global political economy as a whole (since all nations coexist with one another). This is a bit of a funny critique though since Rostow, who first theorized modernization theory, set himself up as an anti-Marx. So they are saying that a bad theory that is intended to refute Marx would do better to just agree with Marx. They add that the Marxist theory available at the time wouldn't have been enough to truly fix modernization theory.

I'm skipping the next section on Comparative Historical Approaches since I don't intend to cover it on my prelim.

Dependency and the World System
Evans and Stephens cover dependency theory and world-systems theory together (p. 745). I'll be focusing on dependency theory since that's what I intend to write about in my prelim.

Dependency theory contradicted modernization theory in a few key ways. First, it's Marxist. Second, because core nations (a.k.a. developed nations, a.k.a. the Global North) already developed and built strong states and strong industrial economies, that made it impossible for the nations on the periphery to develop in the exact same way. Remember, England did it by importing raw materials (wheat, corn, cotton) from the periphery, industrializing its textile industry, and then selling the textiles to both domestic and foreign markets. A nation on the periphery can't exactly colonize England and use it as a source for raw materials and a market for its finished goods. Nations on the periphery are attempting to develop in an entirely different world than core nations industrialized in, and they aren't going to have the same route to industrialization.

Third, the roadblock to progress in the periphery is not ties to traditional values, but local elites and foreign capital who try to "defend their own power and privilege" (p. 745).

Fourth, Baran and Frank focus on interests instead of norms and values (whereas Modernization Theory focuses on norms and values). Evans and Stephens say their materialist approach may have been overdone, but they still got the theory to a better place and it could be improved from there.

Modernization theory looked at the development of the core nations and assumed that the periphery would develop in the same way. Dependency theory examines the nations of the periphery (especially Latin America) to determine how development takes place (or doesn't) in the periphery. The latter view turns out to be more accurate.

Evans and Stephens contrast dependency theory and world-systems theory by noting that dependency theory focuses on the internal dynamics within the periphery, whereas world-systems theory focuses more on the relationships between the core and the periphery. In the case of world-systems theory, they note that Wallerstein said that the positions of individual nations within the world-system may change over time but the overall world-system remains intact.

Evans and Stephens' discussion of how theory treats states and markets seems to mostly contradict neoliberalism, even though they were not writing about it. That is, they say that strong interventionist states that used state power to foster industrial development either by nationalizing the mines or protecting fledgling industries are the ones that were able to industrialize, whereas Chile and Argentina also had strong states but they allowed the "unfettered operation of the market" and that resulted in deindustrialization (p. 750). One can expect at least Evans' perspective to be compatible with dependency theory, particularly his own writing on dependent development. It appears they believe that modernization theory is similar in this way to neoliberalism - it calls for a state to protect private property rights and let the market work, and blames the state and its power for the "traditional rigidities" that prevent development (p. 749).

The second issue they discuss is development and democracy. The third is distribution. Modernization theory predicts that greater development leads to more democracy and more equal distribution of wealth. In other words, modernization theory seems to uncritically believe that development is a panacea, without a whole lot of evidence to back up such a view. Perhaps it's the backward looking perspective it takes, looking only at American and Western European development, along with its ethnocentrism. That is, it views the U.S. and Western Europe as equal and democratic, and then assumes that any other nation that develops will do so along the same trajectory and with the same results.

Evans and Stephens discussion mostly revolve around the other theories, the ones actually based in the experiences of the developing world, comparing and contrasting different nations, and examining different actors within those nations. They seem to mention modernization theory almost nominally, as if it is so obviously wrong that more discussion is not needed. They present an analysis of democratization in Europe that does not treat democracy as the natural outcome of development but instead analyzes various class factions and their alliances and power vis-a-vis each other to understand how each nation arrived at democracy and when they were instead autocratic (such as Germany, Spain, and Italy in the mid-20th C.).

As for distribution, those within dependency theory believe in the Marxist idea of capitalist accumulation, in which - as that occurs - inequality increases as the rich get richer and the gap between rich and poor grows. Or, put another way, capital is enriched and the gap between capital and labor grows (p. 754).

Evans and Stephens refute the idea that development inherently leads to greater equality by pointing out that redistribution via the welfare state is not simply arrived at through industrialization but through political struggle. Here again we see why they critique modernization theory for being "actorless."

Quite frankly, I'm skipping the rest of the reading because there is no way on earth I can remember all of this and regurgitate it in an essay on my prelim without bringing notes in with me anyway.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rostow, Revisited

I've previously written about Rostow's book. This one is about Rostow's article, also called the Stages of Economic Growth, published in The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 12, No. 1 (1959), pp. 1-16. By the way, as a disclaimer, this theory is pretty much bullshit.

The Traditional Society
His first stage is "the traditional society." Simply put, this is the society that has not yet industrialized. Because they have not industrialized, there is a ceiling to their productive capacity. Also, most people must work in agriculture.

Pre-Conditions for Take-Off
Rostow traces the particulars of Britain's industrial revolution to describe why and how they met the pre-conditions for take-off. Then he provides the general recipe needed.
  • First, a good transportation system that can allow for both commerce and efficient government.
  • Second, industrialized agriculture, at least to some extent. Presumably this means some combination of fertilizer, pesticides, mechanization, and hybrid seeds.
  • Third, increased amounts of imports financed by better production and marketing of an export, mostly natural resources.

Then he offers a second set of non-economic factors: willingness to expand markets and industrialize; a group of entrepreneurs who are free to operate; a way to disseminate industrialized agriculture (honestly, this sounds like the Gates Foundation now); good trade policy; and a supportive government that keeps the peace and supports industrialization. He doesn't specify (at least in this paper) how a society will get these things. They are just supposed to get them. Maybe he says it in the book.

Then he gets into how the "demonstration effect" works. So let's say a traditional society begins to get some foreign imports that are manufactured goods, and it has some industrialization. For one thing, he says, this gives people something to strive for by showing them what's possible. If they don't know what higher crop yields or motorcycles or Coca-Cola are, they can't want them. Once they see them, they will want the advantages of longer lifespans, better living conditions, convenient technology, new things to buy, and so on. That's the carrot. The stick is that traditional societies can get their butts kicked militarily by industrialized nations, and obviously the traditional societies won't want to let that happen. It's better to develop the wealth and technology to be able to defend yourself. He argues historically this has been a factor catalyzing and spurring on national development, and he actually defends imperialism saying that it is good because it sped up global development. Clearly, in his view, the impact of the center on the development of the periphery is a positive one. One roadblock to development is when the "men" in charge don't see the need for technological development.

Take-off involves a time when a few sectors have rapid growth thanks to technological (industrial) advancement. He cites sectors that have historically done the job as textiles, railroads, and logging. What makes take-off different from pre-take-off is that suddenly industrial advancement becomes a self-sustaining process, whereas before it was not. The three main factors he cited as precursors must continue to advance (improvement in transportation, industrialized agriculture, and export-led growth), but the group of technical workers and entrepreneurs must grow, and "the sources of capital must be institutionalized" so that the economy can sustain a shock and still survive.

He says a common result of take-off is that the economy sustains an annual rate of net investment of 10 percent. In other words, the profits from the current growth in business are reinvested to grow the economy even more. Those in society who want to modernize win a "social, political, and cultural victory" over those who don't.

The Drive to Maturity
Rostow defines maturity as when a society as applied modern technology to most of its resources. In other words, as Evans and Stephens (1988) put it, it's rationalization. During the drive to maturity the industrial economy is diversified so that there isn't just one or a few main industries. New leading sectors might overtake old ones. This might occur as older industries give rise to new ones - railroads to mining to turning mining products into something, or timber to paper. He poses a number of questions about when to consider a particular nation's economy mature. He points out differences within countries either regionally or by industry, which perhaps show that it's silly to treat development as if it occurs at the unit of the nation-state.

As societies rise to maturity, their agricultural workforce declines and the share of the urban workforce that are semi-skilled and white color increases. These people have both the taste and the income to consume a lot.

The Age of High Mass Consumption
This is Rostow's pinnacle stage, exemplified by the U.S. It is achieved when there is both technological saturation and a high enough per capita income.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mather et al. 2006. "Post-productivism and rural land use: cul de sac or challenge for theorization?"

Is post-productivism a thing? That's what Mather et al (2006) seek to find out. They begin with a very helpful lit review on the subject:

"Recent years have seen a vigorous but limited debate on the concept of rural post-productivism. Initial reference to the concept in the early 1990s (e.g. Shucksmith, 1993: Ward, 1993) was soon followed by an apparent acceptance, implied by reference to a post-productivist countryside (e.g. Halfacree, 1997, 1999; Marsden, 1998a; Wilson and Wilson, 1997). Scepticism, however, quickly set in, with some critics referring to the concept as a ‘myth’ (Morris and Evans, 1999, p. 352) and a ‘false blind alley’ (Evans et al., 2002, p. 328)."

So, there's a disagreement and they are going to weigh in. They are geographers, so they are focused on land use more than social change. Also, they are British. They locate the debate as a mostly British one with Europeans and some Australians writing about it as well (p. 442). Second, most of the literature is about agriculture rather than forestry and other land uses. Third, they don't think the term post-productivist has been defined well enough.

They provide a good definition buried in a footnote: "Recently, however, Bradshaw (2004) has suggested that post-productivism "reflects the postulated reorientation of primary agriculture from meeting the singular goal of producing the greatest quantity of food at the least possible cost to meeting multiple goals such as producing quality food, maintaining rural livelihoods and landscapes and promoting environmental stewardship" (Mather et al p. 442).

However, they say that most works is concerned more with "dimensions" than definitions. By this they mean that most work looks at the traits associated with post-productivist agriculture and tries to quantify how much of these things an area must have to count as post-productivist, and whether the different elements of post-productivism are correlated to one another. An example of these elements are Wilson and Rigg's (2003): "policy change, organic farming, counter-urbanization, the inclusion of environmental NGOs at the core of policy making, consumption in the countryside, and on-farm diversification activities" (Mather et al p. 442).

The counterpoint to declaring agriculture post-productivist is that farmers have not shifted in their thinking or practices (p. 442). Yes, a lot of consumers like to eat organic food now, and governments are trying to write policy to make agriculture more environmentally friendly, but the farmers themselves are not necessarily going along with that.

Mather et al then point out that it's hard to make a case that post-productivism exists or doesn't while we don't have a clear definition for it (p. 443). Therefore, they will attempt to make one up. Actually, they offer two ideas:

"A possible core characteristic is a change in relative emphasis from commodity to non-commodity outputs — from maximising production of material goods in the form of food and wood (used here as a shorthand term for food, industrial crops, various forms of fibre and forest products), to broader objectives, including the provision of ‘environmental services’ used as an umbrella term, encompassing recreation and amenity as well as the ‘ecosystem services’ considered by Costanza et al. (1997))." (p. 443).

Marsden (1995) used the terms ‘productivist’ and ‘post-productivist’ to describe a policy shift "from encouragement of food and farm production to one that also attempts to deliver other environmental and consumer-based benefits" (p. 289). (Mather et al p. 444).

In other words, productivist agriculture is about producing the maximum amount of cheap food, and post-productivism isn't - particularly not when maximizing food production makes low quality food and hurts the environment.

Mather et al look for evidence of post-productivism in the UK. The UK imported much of its food in the lead up to the two World Wars. The wars, and particularly the shortages they caused, led the nation to enact policies to produce a domestic food supply. Once the shortages were far in the past (around the late 1980s and early 1990s), they stopped. (This context makes me think the post-productivist concept is less relevant to the U.S. because we seem plenty busy over here not just trying to feed ourselves but to also "feed the world.")

Admittedly, this is where I lost interest in the article because it's not immediately relevant to the research I am doing, so my synopsis of it stops here.

* Bradshaw, B., 2004. Plus c’est la meˆ me chose? Questioning crop diversification as a response to agricultural deregulation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Journal of Rural Studies 20, 35–48.
* Costanza, R., et al., 1997. The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387, 253–260.
* Evans, N., Morris, C., Winter, M., 2002. Conceptualizing agriculture: a critique of post-productivism as the new orthodoxy. Progress in Human Geography 26, 313–332.
* Halfacree, K., 1997. Contrasting roles for the post-productivist country- side. In: Cloke, P., Little, J. (Eds.), Contested Countryside Cultures. Routledge, London, pp. 70–93.
* Halfacree, K., 1999. A new space or spatial effacement? Alternative futures for the post-productivist countryside. In: Walford, N., Everitt, J.C., Napton, D.E. (Eds.), Reshaping the Countryside: Perceptions and Processes of Rural Change. CABI, Wallingford, pp. 67–76.
* Marsden, T., 1995. Beyond agriculture? Regulating the new rural spaces. Journal of Rural Studies 11, 285–297.
* Marsden, T., 1998a. Economic perspectives. In: Ilbery, B. (Ed.), The Geography of Rural Change. Longman, Harlow, pp. 13–30.
* Mather, A.S., G. Hill, and M. Nijnik. 2006. ‘‘Post-productivism and Rural Land Use: Cul de Sac or Challenge for Theorization?’’ Journal of Rural Studies 22(4):441–55.
* Morris, C., Evans, N., 1999. Research on the geography of agricultural change: redundant or revitalized? Area 31, 349–358.
* Shucksmith, M., 1993. Farm household behaviour and the transition to post-productivism. Journal of Agricultural Economics 44, 466–478.
* Ward, N., 1993. The agricultural treadmill and the rural environment in the post-productivist era. Sociologia Ruralis 33, 348–364.
* Wilson, G.A., Rigg, J., 2003. ‘Post-productivist’ agricultural regimes and the South: discordant concepts? Progress in Human Geography 27, 681–707.
* Wilson, O., Wilson, G., 1997. Common cause of common concern? The role of common lands in the post-productivist countryside. Area 29, 45–58.

Ward. 1993. "The Agricultural Treadmill and the Rural Environment in the Post-Productivist Era."

Ward (1993) describes the relationship between productivist and post-productivist agriculture to the agricultural treadmill. He cites counterurbanization as one factor leading to post-productivist agriculture. The shift to post-productivist agriculture was due to both economic and environmental reasons. Counterurbanization is one part of the environmental changes. Ward mostly writes about the UK but this article applies also to the rest of Europe and North America.

The term "agricultural treadmill" can be traced back to agricultural economist William Cochrane, who coined it in 1958. At its inception, it referred to a dynamic that forced farmers to continually adopt new technologies to stay afloat. The first new adopters would gain an advantage in the market by adopting the technology. More farmers would follow, but the gains the early adopters got would be lost. Eventually, the late adopters would be forced to adopt the technology too if they wanted to keep their farms.

This is oversimplifying and perhaps distorting the concept, but imagine a new technology that makes a farm more efficient. The first farms to adopt it might produce better quality products, or lower cost products. They can keep the profits and use them, or they can lower prices and outcompete other farmers. Eventually, once the majority have adopted the new technology, however, the new low price becomes standard. Late adopters must adopt the technology too unless they want to sell their crops at a loss.

The treadmill is harmful for both economic and environmental reasons. Economically, it creates a difficult to impossible situation for farmers. Environmentally, it pushes farmers toward more environmentally harmful practices. However, Ward (and apparently the literature) see the treadmill as a feature of structural conditions and not individual farmer choices:

"The treadmill can best be conceptualized as a set of structural conditions, which have been shaped by international political and economic processes and became embodied in agricultural and food policies across the advanced capitalist world. In turn, these conditions have played an important role in transforming how farmers ‘see the world’ and organize their production, such that the intensification of production through the application of science and technology has become a ‘logic’ of production at the farm level" (Ward 1993:349).

Roughly speaking, Ward sees Fordism and the corresponding productivist agriculture it engendered, facilitated by the "symbiosis" of the state, agro-industrial capital, and agricultural sciences, as creating the structural conditions for the agricultural treadmill. Ward calls these structural conditions "the macro treadmill." To discuss this, we need some definitions.

Fordism "is based on the expansion of domestic markets for mass-produced goods in advanced capitalist states, and requires the progressive adoption of mass consumption by the industrial working class" (Ward 1993:353). This is what happened in the mid-20th century in the U.S.

To make this happen, the U.S. (and Canada and Western Europe) adopted "productivist" agriculture. Citing Goodman and Redclift (1991), Ward explains that there were two main influences in shaping the agricultural system after World War II. First, in the Fordist period, agriculture needed to provide cheap food to an urban industrial workforce which would, in turn, enable higher proportions of household income to be spent on non-food consumption, and so further integrate the industrial working class in the market for mass-produced goods" (Ward 1993:354). This it did. You can see the stats for what percent of disposable income each nation spends on food. The U.S. is the lowest. Last I checked it was nine percent. It was much higher pre-World War II.

Second, accumulation occurred within food and agriculture itself (Ward 1993:354). Farmers don't just hand weed, plow with an ox team, and save seeds anymore. They buy machines and inputs from corporations. And the food they grow is often sold to a corporation. Some of it is sold as fresh fruits and vegetables, but a lot of it is processed, packaged, and branded. Therefore, corporations get rich on both ends. (Ward is still citing Goodman and Redclift here, but Kloppenburg's First the Seed is a great read about agriculture and capitalist accumulation.) Ward writes, "The pattern of accumulation, they argue, is shaped by the biological constraints of the agricultural production process and human food consumption requirements, but in the process of transforming agriculture, environmental problems have resulted" (Ward 1993:354).

In other words, the normal rules of capitalism, when applied to agriculture, run headlong into nature. A farm isn't a factory. It doesn't play by the same rules. Therefore, the way capitalism has developed in agriculture is shaped by nature, and it in turn led to environmental problems.

Continuing with Goodman and Redclift, two processes were at play in adapting the agri-food system to Fordism. First, capital needed to develop new markets for commodities and second, "the mutual interests of a scientific community and agro-industrial capital in adopting a high-technology model of agricultural production and development" (Ward 1993:354). Through these processes, the agricultural treadmill became system-wide.

The changes to the Fordist/Productivist regime came about beginning in the 1980s when states in North America and Europe started to halt or reduce the subsidies that had propped it up (Ward 1991:357). Simultaneously, many countries became more concerned over food quality and the environment (Ward 1991:357). This is where the shift began to Post-Productivist agriculture (or at least Ward says so - some other scholars question it):

"In the Post-Productivist era "The economic pressures now faced on farms arise directly from the consequences of the technology/policy model in the Fordist regime of accumulation. Accumulation has become concentrated in those sectors of the modern food system both upstream and downstream of the farm such that farmers’ economic position in the food system is being weakened. In turn, agriculture not only receives a shrinking share of total value-added in the food production process, but the nature of farming practice becomes increasingly determined by off-farm interests, either because of the power of input manufacturers to influence patterns of technological change (Munton et aI. 1990) or because food processors and retailers exert pressures through contract purchasing arrangements to determine food quality specifications" (Ward 1991:358).

I believe what he is saying there is that farmers were price takers on both ends (on buying inputs and selling commodities) which put a squeeze on them, and farmers are getting a decreasing "farm share" (the amount of each dollar spent on food that goes directly back to the farmer). He goes on to say:
"The combination in the 1970s of a production- oriented support policy without constraints on the quantity produced and low real interest rates encouraged high levels of debt-financed investment in agricultural land, machinery and buildings. However, by the mid-1980s, and following the EC’s attempts to curtail over-production, farmers who had followed this strategy of business growth became embroiled in a debt trap of rising real interests rates, collapsing land values and falling farm incomes" (Ward 1991:358).

In other words, there was the farm crisis of the 1980s, and a lot of farmers lost their farms. Those who remained often got larger, buying up the land of those who lost their farms. During the same period, the effects of environmental harm were catching up to everyone, and nations began to put environmental regulations in place (Ward 1991:358).

This is where counterurbanization fits in. As people move from cities and suburbs to the country to enjoy rural life (and not farm themselves), "a growing number of farmers now have new neighbours who often have quite different ideas about how the rural environment should be managed... The farmers felt that social change in the countryside has further diminished their autonomy." (Ward 1991:359).

It's at the end here that Ward makes any reference at all to the question of whether agriculture has actually changed from productivist to post-productivist (which some scholars doubt):

"The treadmill continues to trundle on, however, in part because the productivist rationale or ethos remains prevalent among agricultural interests. This need not necessarily be solely because the technology/policy model served the interests of the agricultural industry (or at least those sections which survived through accumulation) but because the productivist era was characterized by clearly defined goals of expansion and technological ‘progression’ about which there was little disagreement. Achieving the goals of producing food for the nation facilitated a sense of pride in the industry" (Ward 1991:359).

Farmers are now farming in a different context from the productivist heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, but that doesn't necessarily mean the farmers themselves have changed - or want to change.

Sources cited:
Goodman, D. and M. Redclift (1991), Refashioning Nature: Food, Ecology and Culture (London: Routledge).
Ward, Neil. 1993. "The Agricultural Treadmill and the Rural Environment in the Post-Productivist Era." Sociologia Ruralis, 33: 348–364. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9523.1993.tb00969.x

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Stryker, Sheldon. 1980. Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural Version

Stryker's book on symbolic interactionism is one of the driest books I have ever attempted to read. Therefore, I am going to summarize part of it here to hopefully save myself from having to ever re-read it.

Stryker begins by noting that symbolic interactionism, as he means it, is a "frame of reference" or "perspective" but not a "theory" (p. 8). Why? Because theories are falsifiable (p. 10). That is, you can test a theory and, if it is false, you can prove it false with evidence (p. 8). What he offers as the symbolic interaction frame of reference is not falsifiable. Also, a frame of reference does not exclude other frames of reference (p. 9). That is, they can both be true.

Next, he gives his perspective on science. Specifically, a theory can be considered true even if it does not explain every single case (p. 11). This is first because "no two events or behaviors are precisely alike" and second because "science can never comprehend events or behaviors in their full complexity" (p. 11). Therefore, he rejects a "deterministic" view of science (p. 10-11); that is, he rejects the idea that "it must be possible to explicate a complete set of causes sufficient to account for every case without exception of some behavior" (p 11). Instead, he says it is enough for science to explain "some regulatory in the behavior one is interested in" (p. 11).

Next, Stryker begins to trace the intellectual history of symbolic interactionism. The term was created by Herbert Blumer in 1937. However, the line of thinking that led up to Blumer's work is a long one, beginning with the Scottish moral philosophers David Hume, Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson "and others" (p. 16). These men were empiricists (p. 17). "They denied that men were motivated by reason, but they saw the source of human action variously in sympathy, common sense, moral sense, belief, instinct, and habit" (p. 17-18). Additionally, they believed that "psychology itself could not be comperehended without taking into account the facts of human association" (p. 18). In other words, if you want to understand the psychology of any one human, you have to also understand their interactions with other humans.

Here is a summary of their contributions:
  • Adam Smith: People understand if their own conduct is acceptable by seeing how others react to it. The reactions of others serve as a sort of mirror. (p. 18) Sympathy allows us to empathize - to feel the emotions someone else is feeling (p. 19). "Society becomes a vast network of interpersonal communication through which the participants are controlled by the approval and disapproval, the desires and evaluations of others" (p. 19).
  • David Hume: Humans are dependent on family and community for survival. They develop sympathy, the "psychological tendency to share the feelings of others" even if others' feelings are very different from one's own (p. 19).
  • Adam Ferguson: He wrote about instinct vs. habit. If people have instincts, they also are free to act differently from them. It's difficult to tell habits from instincts even though habits are acquired through human interaction and instincts are innate. If we could distinguish between them, Ferguson believes "habit has a larger role in human behavior than does instinct" (p. 20).
  • William James: Very influenced by Darwin, wrote about instinct vs habit, consciousness, and the self. James says that instinct is "the faculty to produce certain ends, without the foresight of these ends and without prior learning" (p. 21). He believes instincts are "superseded" by habit, defined as "behavior learned and modified (and modifiable) by experience. The basis of habit is memory" (p. 22). "Human beings can and do develop attitudse and feelings about themselves and see themselves as they see any other object in the external world" (p. 22). James distinguishes between four different types of selves: the material self, the spiritual self, the social self, and pure ego (p. 22). Stryker is interested in the social self. It appears that the social self is the idea of you that each person who knows you has in their mind? (p. 23). In any case, one has a different social self for each different group of people whose opinion one cares about, and if their opinion of your social self is harmed, then you are harmed (p. 23). People naturally want "to be recognized by other human beings" and that is the basis for self esteem. But James divides self esteem into two parts. The "subjective" part is your aspirations (how you want to be seen); the objective part is in "the recognition one gets from others" (p. 23).

I think this is likely a very poor description of the work of William James and his social self, and my understanding of what Stryker wrote may be inaccurate. I don't know that I can make more sense of it from Stryker's words without actually reading what James wrote in Principles of Psychology (New York: Holt, 1890), Vol II, p. 291-294.

James Mark Baldwin
Next in Stryker's line is James Mark Baldwin (p. 23-24). He modified James' concept of the self but believed the entire self is "social in its origins" (p. 24). He posited three stages children go through: projective, subjective, and ejective. The first consists of "becoming aware of others, drawing distinctions between them and objects, and differentiating among others" (that is, telling different people apart). Second, the child imitates the behavior of others and learns that there are feelings associated with that behavior (p. 24). Last, the child learns that other people have feelings too. Baldwin's work influences Cooley and G.H. Mead.

John Dewey
Dewey believes that social customs are collective habits (p 24). Habits are the basis of individual personality formation, and customs are the basis of social organization, but because customs are collective habits, "the individual cannot be set in contrast to society; there can be no deep chasm or fundamental opposition between the self and social order; and personality develops within a social context" (p. 24). I'm skipping about a page of Dewey but Stryker highlights two ideas from his work. First, "his rejection of the conception of society as a monolithic structure" because "society consists of many associations and not a single organization" (p. 26). Second, Dewey insisted that social science and philosophy focus on "everyday situations and problems" (p. 36).

Charles Horton Cooley
Up to this point, most of the people noted are philosophers and psychologists. Cooley brings their work into sociology (p. 26). To Cooley, each of us has a conception of society in our mind. Stryker has a very good paragraph about this (which he calls a "subjectivist" perspective) that seems worth sharing:

"It is this way of thinking about social relationships that has been criticized as solipsistic. That is, if imaginations are the solid facts of society, it seems to follow that there are as many societies as there are individual imaginations. If our imaginations differ, how can we get beyond these differences and to what do we refer these differences in order to build general knowledge in society?" (p. 27).

Cooley, while never naming Adam Smith as an influence, ran with his concept of the looking glass self. Stryker describes Cooleys ideas as, "The self is a social product; it is defined and developed in social interaction" (p. 28). Cooley believed the social self has three components: "our imagining how we appear to another person, our imagining that other person's judgment of our appearance; and some self-feeling, such as pride or mortification, that arises from these imaginations" (p. 29).

Last, Cooley believed that the "primary group" of each of us as children - the family, the play group, and the neighborhood - are the most important to the development of each individual's self (p. 29).

William Isaac Thomas
Whereas Cooley was concerned with the formation of self in childhood, Thomas was concerned with it in adulthood (p. 30). We can thank W.I. Thomas for the term "the definition of the situation" (which I usually associate most with Goffman). Stryker writes, "It is the task of sociology to analyze behavior, the forms taken by the processes of adjustment of people and groups to other people and groups. Adjustment processes necessarily occur in situations; that is, adjustment processes are responses to objective circumstances in which individuals and groups are embedded" (pp. 30-31). However, each of the people has their own subjective interpretation of what is going on - the definition of the situation (p. 31). Their own subjective interpretation of the situation is their reality.

What's more, one's subjective reality is socially acquired: "Children... are always born into an ongoing group that has developed definitions of the general kinds of situations faced and has formulated rules of conduct premised on these definitions: moral codes are the outcome of "successive definitions of the situation."" (pp. 31-32). He continues, "Children cannot create their own definitions independently of society, or behave in those terms without societal interference" (p. 32). Furthermore, if an individual tries to create their own definition spontaneously, they tend to do so for hedonic reasons (what feels good), whereas society sets its definitions based on utilitarian reasons (what is good for society). Therefore, socialization is the process of "bringing the person to interanlize societal definitions" (p. 32). But what does the word "situation" mean? Well, apparently that was never terribly precise and it sort of shifted around throughout his career (p. 32).

George Herbert Mead
Mead is the most important precursor to symbolic interactionism. "Picking up from Dewey, he argues that persons initiate activity that relate to themselves and the environment; that is, the persons do not simply respond to external "stimuli" existing apart from the activity. Activity begins with an impulse without ordained end, and the humans seek to satisfy that impulse by adjusting behavior to the objects in the environment. Those objects become stimuli through functioning in the context of the act, during which they may become defined as relevant to the completion of the act" (p. 36). Therefore, as one feels hungry and looks for food, objects in the environment that were just sitting there as objects (berries) "become redefined as food. Stimuli acquire meaning in the course of activity (p. 36).

When completing an action requires other humans, Mead calls that a "social act." Social acts occur over a period of time and the early stages are "gestures" (making a fist is a gesture indicating that a punch is coming next) (p. 36-37). And here's where we get closer to symbolic interactionism itself. "Communication between persons involves a "conversation of gestures"" (p. 37). And some gestures acquire the same meaning to both parties, the one doing the gesturing and the one on the receiving end. These are "significant symbols" (p. 37). Language is "a system of significant symbols" and it allows us to understand other people's point of view, including how they see us. Taking on someone else's point of view is called "role-taking" (p. 37).

Because I am lazy, I will refer you to this Khan Academy video on Mead's work. Going off the material in the video, it is the "I-me" dialectic - the continued back and forth between the I and the Me - through which society continually shapes the self (p. 39).

Role Theory, Etc
Stryker says that the intellectual lineage traced above culminates in what Herbert Blumer calls symbolic interactionism. But there's another lineage with no main figure associated with it leading to another variant of symbolic interactionism. It comes from role theory (p. 39). The main idea here is that there is an objective reality that exists in society apart from individual actors definitions of the situation. Here, he brings in the work of Georg Simmel, Max Weber, and Ralph Linton (p. 40).

Georg Simmel
According to Simmel "society is neither a mere collection of individuals... nor an entity existing apart from individuals" (p. 41). It is "the name for a number of individuals, connected by interaction" (Simmel, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, 1950, p. 11). Simmel writes of "sociation," defined as "the interaction of minds, the conscious association of persons" (p. 41). In joining society, an individual gives up some of his or her individuality to meet the demands of society, but the individual remains unique (pp. 41-42).