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This chapter starts off with the contrast between house and home, form and content, economics and culture, to conclude that in the end culture is all that matters. It illustrates the kind of conversation we are pursuing with this text.
In this chapter we distance ourselves and consider how culture has figured into scholarly conservations. When culture matters, as the previous chapter concluded, we need a way to discuss culture in a meaningful way. The question then is how to get culture in the conversation. This chapter reveals first why I like the term conversation and then shows 6 different types of ongoing conversations that link the economy, or economics, with culture. It concludes with the conversation that considers culture as an all-encompassing phenomenon, under which economic phenomena are subsumed.
This chapter introduces key concepts and issues for the study of what it is to do the right thing. It tells how the phrase “realizing values” gives a twist to the subject of economics, as it is usually understood. It points out the need to figure out what goods people and organizations strive for, the virtues that discipline their actions, and how their actions can be valuable to others, as we all depend on others when we realize our values.
Dealing with values is not a rational thing. It does not allow for calculations and the application of formulas. It is rather a matter of practical wisdom, or phronesis as the Greeks called it. Learn about phronesis and discover that doing the right thing is a matter of getting your ideals clear, working on your worldview, making clever designs, acting, and then reflecting to find out that your actions were not quite what you intended them to be.
The chapter develops a key element of the value based approach to economy and culture: the concept of value or, better said, values. It explores the various types of values that guide us in doing the right thing under the presumption that our actions aim at the realization of values. The discussion is intended to make clear that when we speak about realizing values, then any exchange value or price plays a subordinate role.
We make values real by generating and acquiring goods. The most important goods are social and cultural goods. They turn out to be shared goods and that distinguishes them from the private goods that we buy at markets and collective goods that governments procure. (Creative) commons are shared, too. The willingness to contribute is critical. Altruistic and social behavior is normal, contrary to what is commonly understood.
In this chapter we turn to the ends, or goals of human actions. It is about our ideals. It is about our telos. The question to ask of any action of yourself, others, organizations or societies is “What is the action good for?” And when the answer does not satisfy just repeat the question “What is that good for.” In the end the answer is to be found in one of four dimensions.
Distinguishing those four dimensions is intended to be a substantive contribution to the inquiry into what it takes to do the right thing.
What do we own, what do we possess? Because of what we own and possess we are capable, or able, to realize important values for us. What are those possessions? And how do we acquire them? For the most part, so we will realize in this chapter, we acquire our sources by contributing somehow. Some of them are a gift. And some sources we have paid for directly. Having a more complete picture of our riches, we also gain a more diversified view of inequalities. At the end of the chapter you will get four different characterizations of inequality.
Every day we are busy realizing values, that is being or becoming aware of them and making them real, or valorizing them. In order to do so we need to involve others somehow. We can do so in various ways. Basically five distinctive spheres are available for us to valorize all that is important to us and involve others: the oikos, the social sphere, the cultural sphere, the market and the sphere of governance. Each turns out to have a different practice. Each sphere involves the others differently. Each sphere is good for a characteristic type of relationship with the other.
The model of the five spheres makes for a good picture that can inform our world view.
The five sphere model differentiates five different logics, five different forms of rhetoric for involving others and thus to valorize values. Understanding the different logics may help to explain why some strategies of valorization are more effective than others, and help to figure out what the right strategy may be for the purpose at hand. Get the full picture!
This chapter aims to provide a survey and is meant more for study, for further research than for easy reading. Those who only want to get the gist of the argument better stick to chapter 9. To provide the reader a pause in reading this chapter comes in two parts. This first part highlights the elements that constitutes a sphere of valorization and shows how they are expressed in the sphere of the oikos, and the social and cultural sphere. The market and governance sphere follow in the next chapter.
We continue the exploration of the five spheres. Surprising as it may seem, the sphere of governance dominates the market sphere. It involves us more and we need it more to realize our values than the sphere of the market.
Having distinguished the basics of each of the five spheres, we can now see
the spill-overs among the spheres, the misleading application of a logic one sphere to another sphere, and several do’s and don’ts. The world of the arts provides an illustration.
I have to draw a preliminary conclusion. Preliminary because a further elaboration on a variety of topics is in the planning. Here we need to figure out where the value based approach has taken us. What are its consequences, how does it differ from what I have been calling the standard account? How it could matter for the life of people, for organizations, and for politics. I include a description of the quality impact monitor that I have developed with others to enable the governing on the basis of qualities. After all, a good evaluation is one of the characteristics of doing the right thing.
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