The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition
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The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition

Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma

Social economics is a dynamic and growing field that emphasizes the key roles social values play in the economy and economic life. This second edition of the Elgar Companion to Social Economics revises all chapters from the first edition, and adds important new chapters to reflect the expansion and development of social economics. The expert contributions explain a wide range of recent developments across different subject areas and topics in the field, mapping out possible directions of future social economic research. Social economics treats the economy and economics as embedded in a web of social and ethical relationships. It considers economics and ethics as essentially connected, and adds values such as justice, fairness, dignity, well-being, freedom, and equality to the standard emphasis on efficiency. This book will be a leading resource and guide to social economics for many years to come.
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Chapter 8: The social dimension of internal conflict

David George


When questions of justice are addressed by social economists, the usual focus is on distributive justice. While widening income and wealth disparities are making such distributive issues more urgent than ever, this chapter will focus on a question just as important to a society having complete economic equality as to a society with great inequality. Are the rules by which the actions of sellers influence the tastes of buyers to be regarded as just? Sections 1 and 2 will provide some background, defining second-order preferences and summarizing my previous conclusions about the market’s failure in shaping preferences. The two sections that then follow will address social issues. Section 3 considers the impact that social forces other than the market have on our preferences while Section 4 explores how the social considerations of preferred preferences compare to the social considerations of preferences that are not preferred. Section 5 describes why ‘two-selves’ models of conflict have prevailed in mainstream theory and the limitations of these models, and Section 6 reflects on future trends and offers some policy suggestions.

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