Wednesday, December 08, 2004
New Market Spaces - Anomic Society
This letter to the NYT helps us understand the dynamics of the anomic market space:
"...You write of depressed and suicidal college students as if their problems were purely psychological. What if the problem lies in the social organization of universities rather than in the psyches of students?
What if first-year students come to college and can't find meaningful communities?
What if the culture of alcoholism, the impersonal lecture halls and the anonymous cafeterias make students unhappy?
What if students develop psychological problems because, in our society, jobs are scarce, personal relationships are frequently tenuous, and the future is often frightening?
As a recent college graduate, I can attest that some students do need psychiatric help. But university administrators, as well as journalists, would be well advised to ask whether student depression is a symptom of much larger problems."
This is related to what KH calls money culture - in both cases, the driver is anomie. Anomie is also driving a resurgence of religious fundamentalism across the globe.
Why is it so powerful? As the great sociologists pointed out, technological change accelerates exponentially, while our ability to socialize it (ie, the rate at which social structures can adapt) increases generally linearly. I would add a jump term to this model - we can socialize the effect of new machines only discontinuously. When we can't socialize the shockwaves technology sends through our culture, we turn elsewhere for guidance - religion, self-help books, cults, etc. All of these products being sold on the anomic market.
Now, we can skip a full blown discussion of the economics of the market, though it might be quite interesting - the point to note is that this market is going to grow hugely - the size of the growth is the difference between accelerating technological change, and linear social structure plasticity. In short, a very, very good market to be in.
Where will value creation lie? I think the key dimension of value to consider in this market is Baudrillard's notion of seduction (versus economic production). More along these lines - a nice explanation of why simulation creates so much value for so many people.