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Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise

Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise

Elgar original reference

Edited by Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni

The recent era of economic turbulence has generated a growing enthusiasm for an increase in new and original economic insights based around the concepts of reciprocity and social enterprise. This stimulating and thought-provoking Handbook not only encourages and supports this growth, but also emphasises and expands upon new topics and issues within the economics discourse.

Chapter 15: Fraternity

Adrian Pabst

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, economic psychology, public sector economics, politics and public policy, social entrepreneurship, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


The word ‘fraternity’ derives from the Latin word ‘frater’ or brother. Broadly speaking, ‘fraternity’ refers to some group or association that is constituted by a sense of brotherhood, governed by the ties of friendship and bound together by the mutual aid among its members. In contrast with solidarity, which is impersonal and refers to an abstract community based on identity, fraternity is inter-personal and emphasises the diversity between equals based on differentiation (Bruni and Zamagni 2004). As such, it depends on the principle of reciprocity linked to mutual obligations. Fraternity so configured is like an ‘artificial family’ that differentiates itself from other social or civic arrangements on account of a distinct ethos that is binding upon its members (Le Bras 1940–41; Michaud-Quantin 1970; Black 2003). Far from being confined to the fellowship of small groups, fraternities are part of a wider set of reciprocal relationships in the realm of civil society that are marked by a shared sense of mutual assistance (Bruni and Sugden 2008). Fraternity – as a communal intentionality and also as set of institutions and practices – can embed the economic and the political in the social. Thus, the practice of fraternity can give rise to a genuine commonwealth whose bonds of reciprocity are not based on blood ties or professional links (e.g. Le Roy Ladurie 1982).

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