Conflitto sociale e incomparabilità dei beni (Social conflict and incomparability of goods)
According to mainstream economics, rational agents choose among alternatives that are supposed to be ranked and compared. This assumption is strongly criticized by sociologists and anthropologists; it may partly hold true only when the commercial transactions sphere establishes a uniform measure: money. But what happens when a community compares social goods supplied by different institutional spheres? The rigorous equalization of any rate of exchange is replaced by a system of conventional equivalences. This system is temporary, since it changes as collective beliefs evolve; it is conflictual, because the "rates of conversion" between social goods often express relations of power among the groups themselves; and finally it is unstable, because individuals tend to develop private "rates of conversion” that are different from the collective ones. This system, despite its fragility, is a crucial tool of reproduction of a complex society. This essay discusses and analyzes some aspects of the issue.
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