In recent years, online social networks (OSNs) have gained great popularity and are now among the most frequently visited sites on the Web. Although security standards and practices are an increasing focus of attention, participants still reveal great amounts of sensitive information in the Web 2.0 environment. Obviously, online social networking takes place in a context of trust. However, trust is a concept with many facets and dimensions. To facilitate trust research in OSNs this article aims at clarifying the role of trust and the relevance of facets of trust, social capital and embeddedness in OSNs. First, the focus is on the individual's decision to trust and on processes through which trust actually emerges. Subsequently, trust is viewed as a structurally embedded asset or a property of relationships and networks that helps to shape interaction patterns within OSNs. A conceptual framework is developed that integrates theoretical concepts from the trust literature, social network and social capital theory, and helps to map different trust-related issues in OSNs.
Although there is a plethora of literature on gender equality and women empowerment, studies on whether (and to what extent) educational attainments affect people's attitudes toward gender equality are lacking. This is particularly true for Africa, a mostly male-dominated continent. In this article, we use data from the Wave 6 of the World Values Survey to empirically examine the relationship between educational attainments and attitudes toward gender equality among people in 5 countries in Africa-Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Our results, based on different measures of gender equality and econometric specifications, consistently reveal that the higher the level of education acquired, the more liberal and favorable the individual's attitudes are toward gender equality.
Over the past three decades, the global microfinance industry has witnessed phenomenal growth in terms of the numbers of borrowers and the total gross loan portfolio outstanding. An application of the criminologists' perspective and Black's theory of control fraud to the global microfinance industry reveals a high degree of overlap between the common characteristics of control frauds and the characteristics of the microfinance industry and suggests that the sector provides a criminogenic environment suitable to Ponzi-type dynamics, including an imperative of growth, misrepresentation of financial and operating performance, a reputation for integrity and innovativeness, concentration in unregulated markets and areas most conducive to accounting fraud, non-transparency and secrecy, dubious accounting methods, lobbying in favor of deregulation, attempts to suborn controls such as accountants, lawyers, regulators, and rating agencies, executive use of the company for personal gain, excessive risk taking at the expense of investors' capital, warnings raised but ignored, and, finally, inevitable collapse. Regulatory interventions are needed to prevent predatory lending and over-indebtedness of poor microfinance borrowers in Latin America and elsewhere. Such regulation, while necessary to protect the poor, is not well liked by the investment community as it places microfinance institutions under local scrutiny, reduces the profitability of the sector, and limits opportunities for control fraud.
This paper proposes the use of class debates in an intermediate-level microeconomics course to introduce early to mid-career undergraduate students to socially embedded and pluralist perspectives, political-economic processes, and policy analyses. Using data from three semesters of class debates in an intermediate microeconomics course, we argue that this activity is a beneficial way to stimulate student interest in social economics, especially in the ethical, political economy, and economic justice aspects of economics and policy. We carried out three allied activities: participation in the debate, a learning self-assessment survey, and a five-page memo providing a balanced analysis of the policy conundrums surrounding the issue under discussion. We discuss three aspects of these class debates relevant to social economists: student attention to processes of knowledge construction, cognizance of power in socioeconomic life, and engagement with economic justice and ethics.
The two books under review could not be more different in terms of their main subject matter and writing style, but their central message is exactly the same: only a pluralist economics is scientifically rigorous and explanatorily honest and fruitful. Both books underpin this important point in their own ways. While Fullbrook draws on a wide range of history of thought in economics, philosophy and the sciences, his epistemological argument is relatively easy to grasp and full of catch phrases. Marchionatti and Cedrini on the other hand review the century long methodological dispute between economists and economic anthropologists. Their treatment of these debates is very detailed. So, it can be a bit of a struggle at times to follow the intricacies of the defensive arguments used by anthropologists in their battles against imperial attacks by economists. However, by providing an outline of the basic arguments at the start and a concluding summary at the end of most of their chapters the authors make these debates very comprehensive while offering a very thorough historical comparative overview of economic imperialism and the defences of its anthropological opponents. In critiquing its philosophical foundation, Fullbrook argues convincingly that the mainstream narrative in economics is ideologically biased and conceptually too narrow to investigate economic behaviour based on social bonds, inter-subjectivity and real freedom. To allow for such analysis, he concludes, we will need to move towards true pluralism of methods in economics.
After the last financial crisis, economic theory and economists have largely lost their credibility. Not having been able to foresee and explain the recession, they have clearly shown that a deep methodological reform of the discipline is necessary. With its restrictive assumptions and the self-referentiality of formal models, mainstream economics has indeed become highly unrealistic and therefore unable to face the deep and evident problems of capitalistic society. The books reviewed in this paper try to criticize economic theory from three closely related points of view: the technical drift that has endangered democracy and annulled the role of citizens in public choices, the sometimes obscure role of economists and the way through which articles of low scientific relevance are published, and finally the decisive role of the Nobel Prize in economics to legitimize the market turn begun in the 1970s. Considering such a discouraging picture, it is necessary to ask whether there is still hope for reforming economics and if, possibly returning to the classics of economic thought, it is still possible to carry out a struggle based on ideas and not on dogmatic prejudices.
Novel curricular strategies are required if institutions want all students to actively experience the benefits of global knowledge and civic engagement, as financial and practical commitments frequently make study abroad inaccessible to many students. In this paper, we outline an innovative service-learning course, where local action coupled with an international target, offered a parallel and novel learning strategy that capitalized on the strengths of experiential education, while providing a practical and more inclusive student engagement opportunity available to a larger subset of students. We also describe our teaching strategy, which emphasizes the social context of the classroom: discovery, self-exploration, and shared learning. Together, service learning and a critical pedagogy can better help students relate to the otherwise abstract processes of foreign aid. In 2013 and 2014, approximately 30 undergraduate students participated in a student-led outreach project soliciting bicycle donations to support human development efforts in Uganda and Ghana. In addition to making reasonable progress toward learning outcomes during the two-year pilot, we found that the everyday challenges our students encountered in their service-learning project were microcosms for some of the large-scale, global challenges that foreign aid delivery faces.
This paper is on social capital and the meaning that Bourdieu has given to this concept in his Notes provisoires, published in 1980. He considered social capital as one of the most important forms of capital, along with economic capital and cultural capital. Even though he did not propose an explicit measure of social capital, so it remained in a conceptual state, he promoted an innovative research programme. Our contribution is to propose a generic method to empirically measure and test hypotheses on social capital, based on Bourdieu's work. We aim at creating an analytical framework that places this concept at the centre of the Bourdieusian theoretical approach. For this purpose, we combine two sociological tools that relate to two different sociological traditions, namely social network analysis and multiple correspondence analyses. Thus, our paper describes the ways to combine field and network analyses, and illustrates this with an empirical study.
In his Theory of Public Finance (1959), Musgrave invented the concept of merit wants to describe public wants that are satisfied by goods provided by the government in violation of the principle of consumer sovereignty. Starting from Musgrave's mature discussion (1987), I construct two categories to classify the explanations of merit goods. The first strand of thought attempts to justify merit goods within the New welfare economics, by modifying its assumptions to accommodate irrationality, uncertainty, lack of information, and psychic externalities. The second category encompasses more radical departures from consumer sovereignty, drawn from philosophical critiques of economics. In the third part of the paper, I argue that the two strands might be represented by a non-individualistic social welfare function. I also show how this solution echoes Musgrave's early views on public expenditures before he coined the concept of merit wants. From an historical perspective, the survival of the concept highlights the persistence of a social point of view in welfare economics.
Although paternalism has long been studied, the 'new paternalism' has received relatively little attention, and much less attention in the oil and gas industry where interferences into preferences centre more strongly on the supply, rather than on the demand, side. The 'choice architects' in Ghana have succeeded in nudging local businesses to go into the provision of services for the oil industry and the supply of goods and services needed in the petroleum sector. Yet, the new paternalism in the petroleum industry has had major limitations too, including re-enforcing systemic inequality and labour exploitation, while paying scant attention to the destruction of local content. These problems can only be addressed through systemic redistribution, structural transformation of the economy, comprehensive social protection and deliberate interventions for ecological sustainability. In this process of social change, an embrace of old paternalism will not do neither will asserting a new paternalism as the philosophy behind local content laws and policies. A philosophy and praxis of democratic paternalism provide a surer path for more effective transformation.