The results known in academic literature as the Easterlin paradox state that economic growth does not have any significant effect on happiness in a society in the long term (more than 10 years). These results became a trigger for the subsequent discussion about the gap between objective and subjective measures of well-being. In particular, there is still no consensus on the explanatory mechanism underlying the relationship between objective and subjective well-being. The analysis of transition economies and developing countries gives inconsistent and contradictory results. In this paper, I consider not only the original interpretation of the Easterlin paradox that is true only for the aggregated national level. This paper traces the discussion about the gap between objective and subjective well-being on both national and individual levels. This study aims to define relevant research strategies that explain why the inferences about the relationship between economic well-being and its perception are inconsistent. At the beginning of the paper, I address the origins of the academic discussion on subjective well-being and explain why different disciplines study subjective well-being. The following part of the paper describes briefly the key stages of the discussion to expose the main arguments. The review of key studies allows me to find the obstacles to reaching the consensus on the type of relationship between objective and subjective well-being. In the final part, the author reflects on the research strategies that explain why the effect of economic indicators on subjective well-being varies in different studies.
Book Review: Karpik L. (2010) Valuing the Unique: The Economics of Singularities, Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press (primum editae: Karpik L. (2007) L’économie des singularités, Paris: Gallimard).
Choosing a good novel, a fancy restaurant, artwork, or a qualified specialist practitioner cannot be understood with the help of theories of exchange mechanisms offered by economics. Lucien Karpik suggests the concept of “singularity” for analyzing consumer choice of high-quality unique goods. The main attributes of “singularities” include multidimensionality, uncertainty, and incommensurability. The important traits of markets for singularities include opacity and opportunism, the necessity for coordination mechanisms, the dominance of quality competition over price competition, and the impossibility to explain price setting with the supply-demand equilibrium. Markets for singularities contain judgment devices (e.g. guides, expert reviews, laureate lists) which help consumers to make a choice. These devices are used in order to reduce uncertainty, providing consumers with necessary knowledge. These devices include networks, certificates of quality, expert systems, ratings (composed by experts or developed by the market), techniques of consumer manipulation and forms of product demonstration at points of sales. Markets for singularities are governed on the basis of several coordination regimes. Thus, the “regime of authenticity” can be found within markets of expensive wine based on guarantees of quality. “Mega-regime” refers to situations where brand names signal a certain quality, such as global movie producers, luxury apparel manufactures, and so on. The “regime of expert opinion” exists within constrained markets, including books, movies, theatre performances, etc. The “regime of professional coordination” is applied to markets of personal services such as physicians or architects, where service suppliers are governed by professional ethics and associations. Prices for singularities are not determined by the standard equilibrium mechanism of supply and demand, but instead are set based on restraints of volume production. A market for a singularity also implies great discrepancies in prices for top-tier products by ratings versus goods produced for mass consumption.
Western literature identifies financial conflict as the main predictor of divorce in families and the most difficult and prolonged issue for spouses. However, the determinants of their occurrence remain a “blind spot” in the vast body of research devoted to marital conflicts and financial management. This article seeks to conceptualize financial conflict and to explain how it arises. The first part examines empirical studies of family conflicts and the role of money problems. Then, drawing on theories of family systems, family stress, social exchange, distribution of benefits, and role theory, the second part looks at the conflict formation process and possible predictors of financial conflict in the family. The third part of the review is devoted to a detailed examination of three factors in conflict formation at a theoretical level. The first of these is financial management and the opposition of independent strategies and pooling mechanisms. Continuing the theme of financial control, the next factor relates to concepts of power and how the grounds for its construction within a household contribute to financial conflict. The final factor is the gendered division of labor, which, according to a number of studies, is a key factor in marital dissatisfaction (especially for women) and the consequent emergence of conflict. The author concludes that these three factors are interrelated and require empirical verification as predictors of financial conflict in families.
Czarniawska’s book may seem to be quite a challenge for several reasons: the author's trademark “crossing genre boundaries” requires a reader to pay attention and stay confident; the outward simplicity of narrating organizational change stands on sophisticated philosophical, sociological, and philological grounds; and the language is eclectic but brilliantly puts together new empirically grounded and older, well-known theoretical concepts. Czarniawska tells a story of the Swedish public sector’s reorganization with the accuracy of an academic and the eloquence of a narrator—institutions become apparent in their activities, as they are based on action, which is depicted by the coined term action nets. In a sense, the reader should be attentive and “follow the words”. Though imagination is also a precondition, as the light but solid and convincing narrative constructions are open to further “translation” (in a hermeneutic and actor-network sense).
Narrative knowledge and its metaphors make it much more productive for work with essential organizational paradoxes. Czarniawska points out that a narrative approach can help new institutionalism reflect on its own limitations and better understand institutional building. With a focus on verbal and written communication as well as employees’ stories, we can trace how institutionalized thought structures, which are responsible for the repertoire of possible actions and shared perceptions among organization participants, are formed.
The book is well written and pleasant for thoughtful reading in both its theoretical and empirical parts. The stories and serials of the Swedish public sector raise important questions of company-ization, technologyization, and rethinking organizational identity. “Narrating the Organization” can also offer some interesting methodological approaches and explanations for why and how stories “work” due to the modern trend of storytelling. The author openly invites her audience into a dialogue and joint-narrative creativity; the only task of the reader is merely to open the book.
Economic debates in the media and their impact on the economic and political behavior of people are underexamined if compared with similar studies of political or social issues. This paper is aimed at reviewing how economic news are reflected in the academic literature and exploring connections between media, public opinions, and the economic situations. The paper is based on research articles indexed in international citation bases. The most recent relevant texts are selected based on their citations. A special attention is paid to the negative bias in economic news. The author focuses upon the research of economic debates in the media during the financial crisis of 2008. This case is particularly important, because much of the existing research on this topic is devoted to this economic shock. The author concludes that that people's interest in economic information increases when economic situation is instable. At the same time, the character of people's perceptions can affect the media debates.
Nick Srnicek writes a convincing history of the modern digital economy, which has managed to develop numerous myths, hoaxes, and prescientific interpretations. Critical reconstruction of the events that preceded the birth and explosive growth of the digital technologies and products market, on the one hand, avoids their perception and understanding in the self-evident logic of the field (market), and on the other hand, provides an opportunity to perceive the future of digital capitalism. Srnicek is consistently detached from an optimistic view of the economy of the recent past and the near future. However, his argument does not involve discussions between “technopessimists” and “technoptimists,” rather Srnicek analyzes the digital economy and the model of platforms in the logic of a capitalist mode of production and a ruthless competitive race. Its intrinsic logic determines the sequence of economic agents’ actions and the possible image of the future. The crisis dynamics of capitalism of the last decades provide limited space for historical maneuvering and less and less space for political action, so any normative statements mostly lose their power. The analysis focuses on the business model of platforms from the perspective of the historical logic of capitalism aimed at seeking a new source of profitability in the condition of market exhaustion. This condition leads to a redefinition of PO the key categories of perception of the role of technologies in everyday life and in the scale of the economic system in terms of political economy. The reviewer gives a patient exposition of the basic concepts of the book and the theses on which Srnicek’s analysis is based. The text is mainly focused on the reconstruction of the main point of the book but also appeals to an important author for Srnicek, the historian Robert Brenner. The review concludes with a modest critical commentary on the book and a call for a Russian-language discussion of the book, which has already become very influential abroad.
Consumer confidence surveys are regularly conducted in more than 50 countries, including Russia. Most of them measure how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are with respect to the economy in the near future and test the predictive power of CSI components. Only a few studies analyze the determinants of consumer expectations and examine various socio-demographic determinates of CSI components, including age. However, when assessing the effects of age one should separate age and cohort effects. The term cohort effect is used to describe the effects of being born at about the same time, exposed to the same events in the process of their socialization.
The paper provides an overview of theoretical approaches and empirical research which can be used for cohort analysis of consumer expectations. The paper deals with the psychological economics of G.Katona, generation theory of K.Mannheim, N.Ryder's conceptual approach to cohort analysis in social sciences. Special attention is given to the discussion of possible strategies to address the ”identification problem”, i.e. the linear dependency of cohort membership, age, and period. Based on consumer surveys data on saving and consumption, the paper analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of both “formal” and ‘substantive’ approaches aimed at clarifying the definitions and interpretations of age, period and cohort effects. The article raises the question of how to relate the generational and cohort analysis, as well as describing the principles of historical sociology as a methodological paradigm of such studies.
Lotta Björklund Larsen’s new book is an ethnography written as a “social biography of things” which is not a rare case in modern Western anthropology. What makes this ethnography special is that the “thing” under study is a report by in-house analysts of the Swedish Tax Agency based on their own two-year research into errors made by small businesses in their annual tax returns. Of course, the anthropologist followed the Agency’s Task Force, not in order to understand why Swedish entrepreneurs make such mistakes, but to understand how the Agency obtains its information
about tax compliance and uses it to motivate citizens to comply, and to what extent the Agency itself is shaped by taxpayers’ perceptions of fairness and by their ways of defining the boundaries between
private and public and between household and business in everyday life. Björklund Larsen claims that, because of the law’s inconsistency, Swedish auditors work as the law’s interpreters and develop artistic skills to balance two different sets of values — “hard” and “soft”. Hard values of controllability are used to legitimate audits, soft values of empathy help to show society that the Agency collects a “fair” amount of money. Even though the Agency appears to have been very successful in this “creolization” of values over the last few decades, the balancing is always very political and risky, and, in order to save its reputation and to maintain the trust of society in most ambiguous situations, the Agency prefers not to rock the boat and to brush research results under the carpet. I would highly recommend Shaping Taxpayers to anyone interested in knowledge production, technology, and government studies.