Following up on the last post, some excerpts from this article.
“In the early 21st century, just as in the late 19th, economics in general makes the assumption that individuals operate autonomously, isolated from the direct influences of others. A person has a fixed set of tastes and preferences; when choosing from a set of alternatives, he or she compares the attributes of those alternatives and selects the one which most closely corresponds to his or her preferences.”
“Generations of policymakers have been raised to have a mechanistic view of the world, and a checklist mentality: to achieve a particular set of aims, draw up a list of policies, and simply tick them off. It is a comforting environment in which to live, being seemingly dependable, predictable and controllable. […] They are justified in order to make the imperfect world conform to the perfect one of economic theory. “
“The social and economic worlds of the 21st century are simply not at all like this.
In the real world we are far more aware than ever before of the choices, decisions, behaviours and opinions of other people. The choices people make, their attitudes and their opinions are influenced directly by others and the medium across which this influence spreads is social networks. Commonly, social networks are thought of as purely a web-based phenomenon: sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. These online social networks indeed can influence behaviour, but it is real-life social networks – such as family, friends, colleagues – that are even more important in helping us shape our preferences and beliefs, what we like and what we do not like.”