Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Fooled by Economics
Only in hyperrational America can we ask a question to which the answer is blindingly obvious: Is Wal-Mart good for America's Working Class?
So good, in fact, that communities in America and the rest of the world alike are beginning to resist Wal-Martization tooth and nail.
It should be absolutely transparent that the financial economies of scale Wal-Mart reaps come at the expense of social capital, cultural capital, imagination, meaning - you know, all the stuff that makes life interesting in the first place.
How does one quantify and measure social and cultural capital? Obviously the effect Walmart has on employment and real wages can be measured, but I do not know how metrics can be assigned to more abstract concepts. Can their effect on society be determined and plotted (over both the short and long term) without metrics?
It's pretty straightforward - sociologists and anthropologists have spent the last thirty years doing exactly that.
The simplest way might be to a network analysis of number/strength of ties in towns before and after Wal-Mart. Alternatively, you could measure social indicators, behavioural indicators, cultural output against industry concentration, etc...
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