Why Economics Is Difficult

My partner Greg Galanos forwarded me a great article from the Philadelphia Inquirer titled The Economy Revealed: Why understanding economics is hardthat builds on the more difficult to digest but equally interesting essay / research by Alan Page Fiske titled The Inherent Sociability of Homo sapiens.”  Fiske’s theory is based on the conclusion that all human relationships are built from four types of interactions: communal sharing, equality matching, authority ranking, and market pricing.  In Fiske’s theory, these four building blocks (which he calls “relationship models”) result in the entire range of the very complex and diverse social life of humans.

While I’m not going to dig another layer into the theory and the research to decide if I believe that it’s true / valid / complete, it’s very provocative and stimulating, especially when you start applying it to a wide range of situations – especially ones that are filled with conflict or behavior between two people that are operating at cross purposes.

Start with the summary article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  If you are interested, read Fiske’s essay.  If you are really ambitious, take it a step further and then use some “communal sharing” and post your discoveries here for all to see.

Oh – and why is economics difficult?  Actually, I never had too much trouble with the IS-LM curves.  It was all that supply side stuff that confused me.

  • Dave Jilk

    Intriguing – kind of a “basis vector” for social discourse.

    Jane Jacobs talks about a similar concept in Systems of Survival – the idea is that the value systems of, say, entrepreneurs and military officers are different – in a way that corresponds to market pricing vs. authority ranking – and explaining why they sometimes don’t understand each other. She only has two categories, though.