Fehr and Gintis describe experiments using a "public goods game." In the regular game, players tended to free-ride more and more as the game progresses. These results suggest that the sociological idea that people do the right thing because they are socialized to care about others is naive. Most people do not act in a “pro-social” manner. They free-ride.

When punishment is permitted, players punish free-riders even at a cost. Public goods increase as free-riding drops. Results like this defy the economic idea of people as selfish maximizers. They also suggest that hierarchy (surveillance/punishment) need not be centralized.

In the light of these results and the rest of the course, how do you think individual internalization of social values/norms, hierarchy, decentralized market interaction, and groups combine to create social order?


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