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Sociability and the Market

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  • Jonathan Wight

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Abstract

This paper addresses two classroom activities for exploring sociability and the role it plays in market and non-market allocations. Adam Smith’s moral sentiments theory provides a conceptual framework for understanding such behavior. In the Desert Island activity students have conversations about competing allocation methods (e.g., rationing, lottery, competition, brute force) that provide a backdrop for learning about market mechanisms and behavioral economics. Beginning students consistently pick egalitarian distributions that signal the implicit willingness to share for reasons that might be instinctual, reputational or other. Fairness in allocations mimics that found in the playing of the Ultimatum Game. The results suggest that economic instructors can successfully bring into the classroom concepts of sociability and the roles it serves in human institutions when introducing a new and different institution—the market.
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Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Wight, 2009. "Sociability and the Market," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 38(2), pages 97-110, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:38:y:2009:i:2:p:97-110
    DOI: 10.1007/s12143-009-9034-0
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s12143-009-9034-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 285-300, October.
    2. Dawes, Robyn M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "Anomalies: Cooperation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 187-197, Summer.
    3. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    4. Jerry Evensky, 2005. "Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments: On Morals and Why They Matter to a Liberal Society of Free People and Free Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 109-130, Summer.
    5. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    6. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
    7. Nava Ashraf & Colin F. Camerer & George Loewenstein, 2005. "Adam Smith, Behavioral Economist," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 131-145, Summer.
    8. Hausman, Daniel M & McPherson, Michael S, 1993. "Taking Ethics Seriously: Economics and Contemporary Moral Philosophy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 671-731, June.
    9. Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "From Homo Economicus to Homo Sapiens," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 133-141, Winter.
    10. Jonathan B. Wight, 2007. "The Treatment of Smith's Invisible Hand," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 341-358, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan B. Wight, 2011. "Ethics and Critical Thinking," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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