Sunday, August 24, 2008

Does Thinking of Money Undermine Community?

Apparently yes according to Princeton's Peter Singer - via Greg Mankiw. But why?

Vohs and her colleagues suggest that as societies began to use money, the necessity of relying on family and friends diminished, and people were able to become more self-sufficient. “In this way,” they conclude, “money enhanced individualism but diminished communal motivations, an effect that is still apparent in people’s responses today.”
Good thing? While I'm not entirely convinced that this is a persistent state I can definitely buy the idea that money and wealth has allowed us to rely less on family and friends. But does it mean that having more money makes us less caring? If it did, wealthier societies wouldn't also be more generous than others. Of course being wealthier, by definition, allows us to be more charitable - but does charity = community? The pursuit of money can also result in less racism and prejudice if the priority becomes profit and, arguably as a corollary, merit. Lots of unanswered questions but definitely an interesting study.

No comments: