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Where Should the Change Begin? Culture, Economy, Both?

November 10, 2010

The “Culture of Poverty” argues that one is poor because of the cultural practices. In effect directly correlating culture and economics – what’s not being said is causality -does culture cause poor economics – or does poor economics cause lack of culture.

What should come first? Economic change? Cultural change? What's your take?

Culture as Driver of Change

“The culture of poverty analysis, despite its flaws, points to a third way to provide help. The third way to help is to teach people to swim. Then they can save themselves. Rather than focusing on the pathologies that make them flail in the water of inequality, fighting off attempts to save them, slipping deeper underwater, we can think about how we can help people to swim better.”- http://bit.ly/8Y34eN

Culture and its Impact on the Economy

Correlation analysis of culture and economics – http://bit.ly/b7MUEW – “a region’s economic development not only depends on the infrastructure construction and other “hard power”, but also relies on “soft power”, and cultural force is the most important “soft power”. Cultural factors change slowly, not easily, but culture can eventually change to encourage entrepreneurship. In the long term, a culture of nurturing and rewarding entrepreneurs can possibly attract new businesses and further activate the latent entrepreneurship characteristics of its residents.” – exploit the synergy.

Synergy of Culture and Economy

Introducing Economic Sociology –

Economic sociology is the sociological analysis of economic phenomena. As Dobbin (2004) points out, economic modernization can be seen as a series of societal projects. There was the project of developing intercontinental trades routes–e.g. Europe’s East India trading companies and colonizing monarchs. There was the project of building large-scale factories with wage labor forces nearby–e.g. early industrialists in Massachusetts and Manchester. There was also the project of divorcing the economy from society and polity (Polanyi 1944)–e.g. 18th century capitalists, politicians, philosophers, and social observers. One manifestition of the intellectual side of the project of splitting economy from society was the division of economics and sociology into distinct disciplines. Eventhough, prior to this the dividing line between the economics and sociology was very difficult to draw (Marx, Weber, Durkheim). As a result of this intellectual division of labor, economists developed highly abstract and formalized models of the economy based on individual self-interest and rationality. Sociologists, however, developed empirical case studies that typically showed that the economy was not a distinct realm, it was in fact enmeshed in social life. Contemporary economic sociology attempts to bring economy and society back together. The starting point is to understand the social processes, day-to-day practices, and social mechanisms underlying economic markets.

Culture affects economics – economics affects culture. A reductionist silo approach is to decouple culture from economics. However, both feed on mutual synergies – change in attitudes does affect your economics – and a change in economic status allows you cultural experiences that will change your cultural outlook We can wind up debating about the heads or tails – of the same coin – the CED or the Culture Economy Dialectic.

Systemic Behavior Modification

Changing culture (as in knowledge, attitudes, values, lifestyles and practices) can be achieved thru behavior modification strategies – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavior_modification – and – http://www.minddisorders.com/A-Br/Behavior-modification.html – to do so, needs a system of fines and rewards.

The current Philippine socioeconomic system fines and rewards “counterproductive behavior”. Going back to the economics – the 60/40 provisions are structural flaws that prevent optimal capital formation due to protectionism. The empirical studies on the impact of protectionism are pretty much well covered and I don’t have to belabor the obvious that protectionism and import substitution models don’t work.

The acceptability of this policy environment is sustained by a broad range of cultural influences delivered through media channels. The content distributed through these channels detract attention and focus from the core issues of economics and empowerment and steer it towards instant gratification, escapism, and patronage.

With the application of operant conditioning techniques such as rewards for watching wowowee – the masses can be steered towards behavior that they wouldn’t do in normal circumstances. Continuous reinforcement of behavior such as relying on variety shows as a ticket to success – instead of gunning for a level economic playing ensures that discussions on critical topics don’t even take off. And should these topics be mentioned, these can be easily swept under the carpet as being trivial – and the conditioned response of “bahala na”.

Replicate all these, and have infinite iterations, and you get an idea how the likes of Estrada, Aquino, Lapid, et al land positions of authority to the utter disadvantage of the country.

Going into a coerced 60/40 Joint venture where Filipnos MUST be the majority isn’t really a good way of inviting foreign investments – whether it is in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, electronics, services, utilities, etc.Thus, the need to “fix it” (the economic policy framework in the constitution) – and jumpstart an environment that stimulates innovation, competition, and capital formation – more efficient, free markets which allow local and foreign investors to compete or collaborate on a voluntary basis.

Change Management: Staging the Delivery of “Fixes”

Considering:

1) Our existing resources; and

2) Experience in previous attempts at charter change – with reference to prior experiences on Con-Con, Con-Ass, and Initiative.

Lots agree that systems change is needed – the heaviest decision to make on their part – is whether these should be done as:

Approach A – charter change-in-toto (as has been done before by Pedrosa et al) ; or,

Approach B – as a sequence of propositions/referendum/initiatives on specific provisions – evolving piecemeal changes which by the time the entire process is completed – the output is also like charter change in-to-to

With reference to Approach A – given the experience – there are too many moving parts – and there are too many vested interests – expect the monumental pushback.

By the looks of it – Approach B, is more doable in the short-term to jump start the process systemic behavioral modification.

How about you? What’s your take on the Culture and Economy dialogue?

22 Comments
  1. ulong pare permalink

    as i posted many a times, and as we had discussed ad nauseam, ad infinitum, change must start from within ourselves… i scrutinized flip culture (from religious aspect to familial/political hierarchy), i discarded the bad, questioned the norm, and followed my heart… neither i whine nor complain; i studied the cause and effect… a simple logic explained a lot… it does not take an ivy league education or god’s anoinment to know the answer… JUST ASK YOURSELF AND DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE TOWARDS YOUR FUTURE… hay naku, mga flips, puro kayo porma!

  2. I remember reading something about Evonne Goolagong, that wonderful Aussie tennis player who happened to be aboriginal. She said, “I didn’t realize I was poor, until I was rich.” The term “culture of poverty” perpetuated by certain sectors refers more to the poverty in spirit and the mind. There are materially poor people in the country (usually in the cities) that require material solutions in sustainable programs with measurable results. That’s easy enough but so far no one has taken ownership or leadership in that. The other type of poor can only be helped by sending them to Pol-pot reeducation camp for the “spiritually” challenged.

  3. Bad idea on the Pol Pot camp. The fooks killed intellectuals and anyone with even a semblance of education.

  4. Bong, your takes on approach A and B pretty much summed up what could work as far should this country pursue systemic changes.  

    I think I’ll agree with your point on too many moving parts.

  5. deyseemetrawlin permalink

    Culture > Economy
    hands down

  6. Hyden Toro permalink

    I would ask everybody, if they can point a country; that is Feudal ; that has prospered, and has a vibrant industrialized base. You have to move from one level of state; in order to move to another level of state. We are a Feudal society; the feudal lords, became the political leaders. They have private armies, like the feudal lords in Japan. The Samurai Warriors were their Japanese warlord’s private armies. It is pointless, to talk anything about attracting foreign investors; we have not yet put our house in order. We have serious problems in insurgency: New People’s Army and Al Queda inspired Muslim insurgency. Private Armies are at the will of political warlords. Who in his right mind would invest in such a country? Our country’s brains have already immigrated abroad as OFWs, hired by good companies; because they cannot find a good future in their country..so, what’s left of us? I don’t want to sound pessimist; but these are our realities.

  7. Hyden Toro permalink

    Yes, it so happen, that countries are like snakes. Snakes have to molt, or shed their old skins, in order to put a new one and grow to the next level of existence…

  8. J_ag permalink

    Once again another delusional post from our favorite barbershop economist.

    When the white settlers started moving West and came across the Plain Indians, (Sioux, Cheyenne) they were amazed that this hardy group of native survived the rugged terrain and weather on a societal culture around hunting the buffalo. The economic system was hunting and gathering.

    When gold was discovered in the Black hills of the Dakotas that spelled the end of Indian society and civilization in the Western Plains. They had no need for gold. The white men destroyed the buffalo herds in an effort to culturally revolutionize Indian society. The genocide was part of the effect of this policy of assimilation.

    The Spaniards did the same thing in South America and more particularly in Bolivia in Potosi where they made the natives slaves to mine the silver that fueled the Spanish empire.

    This all happened during the golden years of free trade in the 18th and 19th century.

  9. kay permalink

    check this pro pinoy site : http://www.western-asian.com
    warning: you will be annoyed on how it lectures to be a true Pinoy

  10. stick to watching cowboy westerns – the culture economic dialectics is way above your head.

    and stop playing with your potty… rip van winkle

  11. AlexB permalink

    It’s a nasty remark I made. For sure there is a lot of “educated” people in the country but whether it helped them as a person, I wonder. Since we’re talking of the culture of poverty here, I find that “poverty” is not an issue but is an industry to some (or even many).

  12. What does all that have to do that with this article? Ang layo. 

  13. NFA_rice permalink

    In Ambeth Ocampo’s latest column, he mentioned a Spanish friar’s observation that the natives are weak because they “follow the path of least resistance”. This weakness leads to their exploitation by whoever happens to be on top of the pecking order (economic or political), be it the Sangleys and the Spanish colonizers, and in my opinion, fellow Filipinos, and Americans in the 20th century.

    What did this friar mean by “the path of least resistance”? Well it seems he was right judging from the huge socio-cultural inertia.

  14. Jay permalink

    And that folks is NOT THE WAY to make analogies.

    I guess in the Filipino education system, making analogies is certainly difficult. Which says quite a bit about critical thinking since its one of those things that measures your ability to think.

  15. Jay permalink

    I do think its the culture as well. Take any effective or prospering blueprint of an economic model and you find that it also entails in a culture, or a mindset that trickles from the ownership to its workers/employees. I have observed some sports franchises and its interesting to see how each one has some form of a model and its employers (even the owner) follow its mindset or like minded personality. The ones that mire in ineptitude and failure (pretty much perennial first pick in draft lotteries) subject themselves to mediocrity and the current state they are in.

    Trying to force charter change doesn’t seem pleasant, despite the many advantages of the parliamentary. Not that the current democracy is anymore comfortable, but it would help to push it if they can get certain groundwork to aid its push in the future. Make it more of an open conversation, as opposed to those trying to create negativity out of being a critic of the country, since we never do that well anyway and they look at that perspective like those who look at the country in a petri dish. They should know that the old do what you can, for the benefit of the country adage doesn’t invite change, but only furthers the acceptance that the current system is no better but anything else would be far worst, thus expecting more of the same in the future.

  16. someguy permalink

    I’ll go with culture. Remember that a lot of Filipinos are always complaining about a product’s expensive price especially if it raises even a bit (the retarded Piston comes in my mind).

  17. Perhaps there is an entire iceberg of cultural baggage that we do indeed have to come to terms with before the tip of said proverbial iceberg (that part of it that gets the most Media spotlights) is used as a basis for any further solutioneering.😉

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  18. kickapoo permalink

    One touchy aspect few people dare to mention is the effect of Religion on our society.
    I am not an atheist nor a religious zealot. I believe that faith is personal.

    It is my personal opinion that dogma encourages people to stop inquiring and take things as they are presented.

    Now faith encompasses our very being and existence, and to submit this to dogma, above all else, opens a path to a world where simple logic can be easily set aside. Hence, pinoy’s tolerance to everything, including corruption.

    Filipino masses lack common sense and logic due to poor education and submission to dogma.

    Here are questions towards religious dogma, dogma that defies simple logic (I am not encouraging debate, I will state these thoughts just to make a point. I am not challenging the beliefs of people. Most of all, I believe religion does not belong to the realm of logical debate, because it belongs to the realm of metaphysical):

    1. If God really love the world, why not just forgive our sins straight up.
    2. Why subject your only son(Jesus) to die for our sins, arent you God, who are you trying to please?
    3. Considering Jesus died for our sins, he went back to life after 3 days. Doesnt that forfeit the sacrifice? why bother dying if youre gonna go back to being alive?
    4. If Jesus died for our sins, why are we still born with Adam’s original sin?
    5. Why are there 3 divine persons in one God? I thought there is only one God? Is this the same with Vishnu’s 10 avatars?

    Roman Catholicism revolves around these logic-defying concepts. Encouraging us to forget logic and just believe without questioning.
    Dont be surprised why Pinoy has the tendency to do things that defy logic and at the same time, tolerate it.

    Why not just focus on Jesus’ parables that teaches us how to become good neighbors. Thats how simple it is, no need for these mind-boggling concepts of the holy trinity.

    We would have been better off having paganistic beliefs, in that we would give nature complete utter respect.

    I am born and raised a catholic. It is only unfortunate that God gave me the intellect to question everything. I am not here for debate. My apologies if I might have offended some of you guys. That is not my intention. I do not question other’s faith, just their religion. And it is for good reasons, mainly to find ways to elevate the way of thinking of the Filipinos.

  19. J_ag permalink

    “Culture economic dialectics….”

    Wow!!!!!!! Are material needs guided by the instinct first of physical survival or man in his natural state or is man born with the culture automatically.

    If the delusional author of this post was born in Papua New Guinea into a tribe of hunter gatherers what type of societal culture would he imbibe?

    What determines their societal evolution – Dialectical materialism or this invention by the author of culture economics dialectics?

    Does he know what dialectics mean?

  20. Least resistance = I think in our culture, it’s called laziness

  21. Jay permalink

    it all depends on how these individuals treat these values. I was born and raised in the SDA community and it certainly differs from area to area as well. We’ve had ministers who preach that God is selfish, so you must do what is said from him while I have adhered to the more universal God is love, Jesus is love and I make that part of my core values instead.

    As much as everyone is under the RC Umbrella in the country, there is no doubt in my mind there are people who preach values much differently, and due to that get ostracized out of their community because it questions the dogma. I can care less about my religion which some people put too much stock in its core value of Jesus’ second return. I’d rather do what I can to the service of humanity and society, through forms of awareness and education of human institutions as well.

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