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Competition and Cooperation

Abstract

Rhetorically, by analogy, and metaphorically, the notion of what is and should be “business” has taken on an uncommonly prominent place in the discourse of everyday life. In our society, business is the “marketplace.” And, it is defended in the name of “individualism,” which is rough and ready for what Americans consider advances both personal and collective values: individual achievement and social progress. Thus, the marketplace allows us to eat our cake and have it too. Competition, it is argued, promotes both the ends of individuals and the ends of society. Instead, I contend that the valorization of individualism has undermined democracy and equality, and the rhetoric blinds us to the fact that the big players do not live by the rules of competition. It is my point in this chapter that cooperation pervades economic life just as it does social life. There is no reason to be squeamish about it. Drawing from a point that Amitai Etzioni makes, in contemporary, developed countries, competition does not do well in impersonal, calculative systems of independent actors unbounded by social relations but instead requires social bonds that are strong enough to sustain mutual trust.1

Keywords

Social Life Social Role Social Contract Economic Life Mapping Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1993

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