Monday, December 03, 2012

Reciprocity and Bargaining

 JAMES MADEIROS (3 DECEMBER) posts on Sociology Degree Programs HERE 
Reciprocity: Society’s Invisible Hand”
“The most common (and commonly defended) positions regarding personal choice revolve around free will and fate, but these two stances exclude one of the most powerful predictors of human action and interaction: societal influence.
This is especially true when it comes to the concept of the “rule of reciprocation,” which defines the invisible hand that pushes us to give back when others give to us. This pressure is most acutely felt when people fail to reciprocate and are then saddled with guilt that makes them feel uncomfortable – a feeling that is avoided by reciprocation.
The problem with some versions of sociology is its proclivity for making things up (as happens with some exponents of economics!).  Relating reciprocation uniquely to society’s pressure on individuals and calling it “the invisible hand” is that it fails the evidence test from the widespread behaviour exhibited among some, but not all, pairs of primates (see Robin Dunbar,Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language”).
Similarly, among humans reciprocity is practised, but not unanimously. Reciprocity is a powerful behavioural exchange habit that predates by hundreds of millennia its appearance among modern humans. Reciprocity, where the implied exchange may be separated by time delays, pre-dates the relatively more recent exchange behaviour practised in human bargaining – where the implied exchange is immediate and rarely occurs among primates (and some bats) practising reciprocity. 
Hence the attempt by James Madeiros to make Sociology Degree Programs appear authoritative, complete with its own ‘invisible hand’ of society,  exposes its shallowness.  


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