Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture
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Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture

What it Means to Take Japan Seriously

Ronald Dore and D. Hugh Whittaker

Social Evolution, Economic Development and Culture brings together Ronald Dore’s key writings for the first time, making his work accessible across a wide range of social science disciplines. It produces a distinctive perspective with four interlinking themes – technology-driven social evolution, late development, culture and polemics. These are highly topical in the current context of rapid technological innovation and socio-economic change, globalization and accompanying policy choices.
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Chapter 27: Convergence in whose interest?*

Ronald Dore and D. Hugh Whittaker


Why were we - the contributors - interested in globalization and convergence? It seems to me that one can crudely classify the approaches adopted under three heads: The Analytic; The Implicit Normative; The Explicit Mandarin Normative. I would like to elaborate briefly on the differences as I see them, declare my allegiance in this particular context to the explicit mandarin normative mode, and present one particular example of the sort of messy dilemma such an approach gets one into. The pure and consistent examples of the analytic mode [examples cited] are concerned, above all, with teasing out causal connections, with showing the multiplicity of forces that cause economic institutions to be different in different countries and might in the future cause them to converge or diverge, and with seeking generalizations about the way those forces interact and which are likely to be stronger. [Of two typical examples of the implicit normative category,] the one expresses its norms more frequently in the form of prescriptive ‘shoulds’ and the other in predictive ‘wills’, but it does not take much reading between the lines to infer that the values that direct their analysis are similar. The two goods on which both agree are ‘fairness’ and ‘efficiency’. But because ‘fairness’ turns out to be defined as that which maximizes the openness of competition by giving everyone an equal chance to take part in it, and competition is valued because it leads to greater efficiency, eventually it is efficiency that is king - the ur-value...

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