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Review of Social Economy, 70/1 (2012)

RSEFollowing are the contents (with abstracts) of the latest issue of Review of Social Economy (70/1, 2012).


The Personal Networks of Entrepreneurs in an Informal African Urban Economy: Does the ‘Strength of Ties’ Matter? Jean-Philippe Berrou & François Combarnous

This paper investigates Granovetter's “strength of weak ties” hypothesis in an informal African urban economy. It outlines an approach articulated around the reticular embeddedness conceptual framework associated with the notion of “ego-centred network.” The content of ties in an entrepreneur's network is described by three salient dimensions: strength, social role and exchanged resources. We use an original dataset collected in the informal economy of Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) to evaluate how the content and strength of ties influence entrepreneurs' economic outcomes. The instrument of multiple name generators provides a vast amount of information that can be used to compute quantitative measures of the composition of networks. We show that both strength of ties and proportion of business ties have a significant positive impact on economic outcomes. It reveals the importance for small urban informal entrepreneurs to draw on both embedded social relations and more autonomous ones.

Government Size and Trust, Eiji Yamamura

This paper uses individual level data from the Japanese General Social Survey to examine how government size influences generalized trust. After controlling for the endogeneity of government size using instrumental variables, I found: (1) using all samples, government size is not associated with generalized trust, and (2) after splitting the sample into workers and non-workers, government size does not influence generalized trust for non-workers, whereas it significantly reduces generalized trust for workers. This suggests that workers, through their work experience, might have to face greater bureaucratic red tape coming from “larger government,” leading to negative externality effects on relationships of trust in the labor market.

Permanent On-The-Spot Job Creation—The Missing Keynes Plan for Full Employment and Economic Transformation, Pavlina R. Tcherneva

The paper rejects the conventional view that Keynes had an aggregate demand approach to full employment. Instead, it proposes that he advocated a very specific labor demand targeting approach that would be implemented both in recessions and expansions. Modern policies, which aim to “close the demand gap” between current and potential output are inconsistent with Keynes's work on theoretical and methodological grounds. There is considerable evidence to suggest that a permanent program for direct or (in his words) “on-the-spot” job creation is the missing Keynes Plan for full employment and economic transformation. The current crisis presents the social economist with a unique opportunity to set fiscal policy straight along the original Keynesian lines. The paper suggests what specific form such a policy might take.

The Relational Dimension of Identity—Theoretical and Empirical Exploration, Helena Lopes & Teresa Calapez

Identity has been recently introduced as a “legitimate” subject matter in economics. Whereas the social nature of identity is consensually acknowledged, its relational and moral dimensions are overlooked. We begin by clarifying the role of interpersonal relations in identity formation. Following Honneth (1995) we argue that the development of a positive identity, defined as a person's relation-to-self, depends on the processes of mutual recognition in which a person takes part throughout her/his life. We then frame Honneth's recognition processes in terms of the access to relational and moral goods. An empirical study is presented that illustrates the association between relational and moral goods and “relation-to-self.” Based on European Social Survey (ESS) data, we show that high levels of relational goods (e.g. experiencing intense and positive social relations) and moral goods (e.g. perceiving to be treated with justice and respect) are associated with a positive relation-to-self.

Meaning of Life: Exploring the Relation between Economics and Religion, Aloys Wijngaards & Esther-Mirjam Sent

This paper starts from the perspective that giving meaning to life is a key function of religion: through its narratives, rituals, creeds, and practices, religion clothes life in a meaningful frame. Interestingly, though, meaning of life has not yet appeared in studies on the relation between religion and economic behavior. As meaning of life may prove to be a crucial factor in understanding this relation, this paper seeks to develop a new approach to understanding the link between religion and economic behavior from the viewpoint of meaning of life.

Book Reviews

America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics (Donald E. Frey), reviewed by D. Marshall Meador

On the Role of Paradigms in Finance (Kavous Ardalan); From Economics Imperialism to Freakonomics: The Shifting Boundaries between Economics and Other Social Sciences (Ben Fine and Dimitris Milonakis); and Economics Versus Human Rights (Manuel Couret Branco), jointly reviewed by Roderick J. Macdonald

Boosting Paychecks: The Politics of Supporting America’s Working Poor (Daniel P. Gitterman), reviewed by Nancy E. Bertaux

The “Woman Question” and Higher Education: Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge Production in America (edited by Ann Mari May), reviewed by Susan B. Carter


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