Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Value of Herds

Potlatch - a sociologist of this e-parish - asks:

"How can you distinguish 'herd behaviour' (as the behavioural economists do) when capitalism would be entirely impossible without it?...Without socio-psychological laws inciting us to trust in the shared illusions of modern society, homo economicus would never pluck up the courage to leave the house."

It's a good post, nicely put - the link between policing and financial regulation is apposite, funny and clever all at the same time.

But is it really true that, "...all forms of valuation in a capitalist society are subject to a collective imaginary?"

The Labour Theory of Value may be useless economics - because it can't easily be used to measure the appropriateness of distributing resources in any given way - but surely it still functions as a (sort of) sociological truth? Or at least a viable way of looking for that truth? Perhaps he would agree - if not with the specific Labour Theory of Value of, say, Ricardo or Marx, then perhaps with the general proposition that there are some, conceivable societies where valuation isn't imaginary, collective or otherwise.

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