The Theory of Interests

A unitary theoretical perspective, compatible with the methodological criteria of science

«The positive involvement (with the consequent conjunct interrelation) and the negative involvement (with the consequent disjunct interrelation) define the two basic typologies of social interactions. In the structural theory of interests, they are two primitive dyadic predicates (primitive ordered pairs), corresponding to the relation (function) of social reinforcement within the experimental dynamics of operant behavior.» «Positive involvement explicates the pre-scientific concept of cooperation and negative involvement explicates the pre-scientific concept of conflict.» «These primitive relations, which are considered basic preliminary assumptions (postulates), have a logical (syntactic) meaning (which points out their disjunctness) and a semantic interpretation founded on experimental analysis of behavior […]. Starting from these basic assumptions every social behavior can be explicated (scientifically explained).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 336, 338, 353)

Giulio Bolacchi

The Field of Interests

Giulio Bolacchi - Campo di interessi

The diagram represents the field of interests of subject A. In the oriented segment ab, we plot the final interests of the subject, ordered according to their intensity level (increasing from the left to the right). In the oblique segments, we plot the instrumental interests for each final interest (the latter being identified by the point of intersection between the oblique and the horizontal segments), ordered according to their instrumentality degree (decreasing moving downward). For clarity of explanation, the abstract schemata of the Theory of Interests take the simplest and most basic case into consideration, one where each instrumental sequence consists of a single instrumental interest (and, hence, only one instrumental behavior); therefore, diagrams represent pairs of interests.

Definitions of Subject and Social Interaction

«Within the abstract language of the theory of interests, each subject is defined as a set of instrumental and final interests (field of interests), which is characterized by two relations which refer to the instrumental interests (IS) and the final interests (IF).»

«The structure of the social interaction is formed by pairs belonging to different fields of interests (subject A’s and B’s fields), which express the (positive or negative) involvement between final interests and the (conjunct or disjunct) interrelation between instrumental interests.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 333; 334)

Structure of the Field of Interests

«The structure of the field of interests is formed by orderly pairs of interests, which express the instrumentality and the preference, respectively.

In the first case (instrumentality): (1) the pair is composed of an instrumental interest and a final interest, which define the instrumental sequence of interests {IS→IF}; (2) the measure of instrumentality is expressed by the instrumentality degree.

In the second case (preference): (1) the pair is composed of two final interests; (2) the measure of preference is expressed by the intensity level (ι).

The sequence of instrumental interests and the sequence of final interests are subsets of the field of interests.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 334)

Instrumentality Relation and Instrumentality Degree

The field of interests is characterized by «an order relation between interests according to their instrumentality degree, which is given by the position of each interest in an ordered set that has on one side the final interests and on the other side the instrumental interests. The “is instrumental to” relation implies that:

(1) each interest can be satisfied (i.e., each sequence of operant behaviors can take place) only if the preceding interest in the order relation (i.e., the interest having a higher instrumentality degree) has been satisfied (i.e., the preceding sequence of behaviors has taken place);

(2) each interest can be regarded as an instrumental interest with respect to the interests that follow it and as a final interest with respect to the interests that precede it.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 333)

Preference Order and Intensity Level

The field of interests is characterized by «an order relation between interests according to their intensity level, which is given by the position of each interest in a set of preferences. The “is not preferred to” relation implies that:

(1) when confronted with the satisfaction of one interest or another interest, the subject satisfies that interest with the highest intensity level;

(2) two final interests can be disjunctively satisfied.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 333; 351)

The Object of Interests and the Interest in Interest

«Whenever the interests of two subjects have the same object, these interests must be involved either positively (in which case, satisfying one interest implies satisfying the other interest) or negatively (in which case, satisfying one interest implies not satisfying, i.e., sacrificing the other interest).

The relation between interests such that they can be involved, either positively or negatively, entails another relation between the subjects’ interests, such that one subject’s interest has as its object an interest of the other subject. In particular, the case of common interests which are positively involved entails an interrelation between the interests of the two subjects, such that each subject has an interest in the other subject’s interest being satisfied. In contrast, the case of common interests which are negatively involved entails an interrelation such that each subject has an interest in the other subject’s interest being sacrificed. Therefore, an interest in interest (i.e., the interrelation) comes as an interest in another subject’s interest being satisfied or sacrificed according to whether it derives from a positive involvement or a negative involvement of interests.»IT

(La struttura del potere [The structure of power], p. 60)

The Theory of Interests as an Atemporal Theory

«The theory of interests […] can be expressed as an atemporal theory, although behavior has by definition a temporal dimension in terms of repetition time, since that theory does not consider the dynamics of behavior, unlike experimental analysis; i.e., it does not consider the functional relations among behaviors, but only the structural relations among interests.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 320)

The Positive Involvement and the Conjunct Interrelation

Definition

«In the case of positive involvement, a relation exists between two interests belonging to two different subjects, such that none of the two subjects can satisfy its interest unless the other subject satisfies the other interest too, and vice versa.

It can be stated that satisfying one of the two positively involved interests implies satisfying the other interests, too, and vice versa. Namely, it is indispensable for the positive involvement that the two interests are contextually satisfied by the two subjects, which requires, in principle, the two subjects to realize two distinct but complementary instrumental sequences of interests.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], p. 176)

Positive Involvement and Conjunct Interrelation: Basic Relations

«Given two instrumental sequences of interests {ISA.1→IFA.1} and {ISB.1→IFB.1} belonging to subject A’s field of interests and to subject B’s field of interests, respectively, the possible basic relations among interests (social interactions)» are of two types.

The first type of basic social interaction occurs when «a relation between the two final interests IFA.1 and IFB.1 exists, such that the satisfaction of A’s interest IFA.1 can occur only if B’s interest IFB.1 is contextually satisfied, and vice versa. Consequently, there is also a relation between the two interests ISA.1 and ISB.1 such that A’s interest ISA.1 (instrumental one with respect to IFA.1) cannot be satisfied if B’s interest ISB.1 is not satisfied, and B’s interest ISB.1 (instrumental one with respect to IFB.1) cannot be satisfied if A’s interest ISA.1 is not satisfied.»

«It is necessary that the two subjects contextually satisfy their two final interests and carry out, in principle, two distinct but complementary instrumental sequences. In this case, the two final interests IFA.1 and IFB.1 are positively involved (pi) and the two instrumental interests ISA.1 and ISB.1 are conjunctly interrelated (“related” for the notation) (cr): [IFA.1] pi [IFB.1] e [ISA.1] cr [ISB.1].»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 334, 335-336)

Logical Formulas for the Positive Involvement

«In logical terms, the positive involvement can be expressed by the formula:

{([IFA.1] [IFB.1]) ([IFB.1] [IFA.1])},

which is equivalent to:

[IFA.1] [IFB.1].»

(A new paradigm for the Integration of the Social Sciences, p. 351)

On the conjunct interrelation

«Let us further explicate the concept of conjunct interrelation between interests. We can observe, first, that it is based on two subjects’ interests having a common object, such that satisfying A’s interest IFA.1 necessarily implies satisfying B’s interest IFB.1 and vice versa. The two interests, IFA.1 and IFB.1, are thus positively involved. It follows a conjunct interrelation, which means each subject has a further interest in that the other subject’s interest, positively involved with its own interest, is satisfied. Hence, a new pair of interests, A’s interest ISA.1 and B’s interest ISB.1, goes to join the pair of interests IFA.1 and IFB.1 (belonging to A and B), whose object is the satisfaction of IFB.1 and the satisfaction of IFA.1, respectively.

By representing A’s and B’s fields of interests with two oriented segments, ab and cd, we have the diagram n.1, where:

Giulio Bolacchi - Interrelazione congiunta (analisi strutturale)

(1) IFA.1 and IFB.1 are positively involved;

(2) ISA.1 and ISB.1 are two instrumental interests: ISA.1 is instrumental to IFA.1, and ISB.1 is instrumental to IFB.1; the instrumentality lies in the fact that IFA.1 can be satisfied only insofar as ISA.1 is satisfied and IFB.1 can be satisfied only insofar as ISB.1 is satisfied;

(3) ISA.1 and ISB.1 are conjunctly interrelated, given that ISA.1 object is the satisfaction of IFB.1, to which ISB.1 is instrumental; and ISB.1 object is the satisfaction of IFA.1, to which ISA.1 is instrumental;

(4) ɩA.1 and ɩB.1 express the intensity levels of interests IFA.1 and IFB.1, which are the highest compared to the intensity levels of all other interests of the two subjects A and B. The intensity level is given as an ordinal measure for an interest’s intensity; in fact, it is not possible to give an operational definition that enables measuring an interest’s intensity, whereas it is acceptable to order interests according to a scale of preference. Therefore, saying that the intensity level ɩA.1 of the interest IFA.1 is the highest (as well as the intensity level ɩB.1 of the interest IFB.1 is the highest) is tantamount to saying that, at a given time t, where facing the alternative of satisfying either IFA.1 or any other of its interests, subject A prefers to satisfy IFA.1; similarly, where facing the alternative of satisfying either IFB.1 or any other interests, subject B does prefer to satisfy IFB.1. If the intensity level of the two interests, IFA.1 and IFB.1, at a given time t, were not the highest for both subjects, IFA.1 and IFB.1 could not be positively involved; no conjunct interrelation between A’s and B’s interests would be established, in that case.» IT

(Concorrenza, collettivismo e pianificazione [Competition, collectivism and planning], pp. 12-13)

Altruistic behavior

«In the case where one subject is in a position to realize autonomously (also without the other subject’s consent) the entire sequence of instrumental behaviors related to the consummatory behavior corresponding to the satisfaction of one of his own final interests, there is not any positive involvement (neither an immediate nor a mediate one), even when the satisfaction of his final interest implies the satisfaction of another subject’s interest. This is what happens with reference to “altruistic behavior.” In this case, the essential conditions for a positive involvement between the two interests do not exist, since the satisfaction of the second subject’s interest is not necessary for the first subject’s interest to be satisfied, because the satisfaction of the second subject’s interest is a mere consequence of the first subject’s interest satisfaction.[26]»

«[26] […] The free rider’s behavior can be generalized in a more abstract perspective within the theory of interest, as an element of the more general set of behaviors realized by the subjects who profit (without any positive involvement) by positive involvement among other subjects’ interests. […].»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 348; 352)

The Negative Involvement and the Disjunct Interrelation

Definition

«In the case of negative involvement (which represents the situation of social conflict), a relation exists between two interests belonging to two different subjects such that none of the two subjects can satisfy its interest unless the other subject’s interest is contextually sacrificed, and vice versa. It can be stated that satisfying one of the two negatively involved interests implies not satisfying (sacrificing) the other interest, and vice versa.

It means that a conflict situation offers a single possibility of action to only one of the two subjects, in such a way that one subject realizing an instrumental sequence precludes the other subject from realizing any other sequence instrumental to satisfying the interest involved negatively, and vice versa.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 191-192)

Negative Involvement and Disjunct Interrelation: Basic Relations

«Given two instrumental sequences of interests {ISA.1→IFA.1} and {ISB.1→IFB.1} belonging to subject A’s field of interests and to subject B’s field of interests, respectively», a second basic relation among interests (social interactions) is possible.

The second type of basic social interaction occurs when «a relation between the two final interests IFA.1 and IFB.1 exists, such that the satisfaction of A’s interest IFA.1 can occur only if B’s interest IFB.1 is contextually not satisfied, and vice versa. Consequently, there is also a relation between the two interests ISA.1 and ISB.1 such that A’s interest ISA.1 (instrumental one with respect to IFA.1) cannot be satisfied if B’s interest ISB.1 is satisfied, and B’s interest ISB.1 (instrumental one with respect to IFB.1) cannot be satisfied if A’s interest ISA.1 is satisfied.»

«Only one of the two subjects can satisfy their final interest, since the realization of an instrumental sequence by one of the subject precludes the other from realizing the instrumental sequence aimed at satisfying their final interest. In this case, the two final interests IFA.1 and IFB.1 are negatively involved (ni) and the two instrumental interests ISA.1 and ISB.1 are disjunctly interrelated (“related” for the notation) (dr): [IFA.1] ni [IFB.1] e [ISA.1] dr [ISB.1].»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 334, 336)

Logical Formulas for the Negative Involvement

«The negative involvement can be expressed by the formula:

{([IFA.1] [~IFB.1]) ([~IFA.1] [IFB.1])},

which is equivalent to:

{([IFB.1] [~IFA.1]) ([~IFB.1] [IFA.1])}.

Each formula of negative involvement is equivalent to:

~([IFA.1] [IFB.1]).»

(A new paradigm for the Integration of the Social Sciences, p. 351)

On the disjunct interrelation
Giulio Bolacchi - Interrelazione disgiunta (analisi strutturale)

«Now consider the disjunct interrelation between interests. We assume, here too, that A’s and B’s interests have a common object, such that satisfying A’s interest IFA.1 necessarily implies not satisfying B’s interest IFB.1 and vice versa. The two interests, IFA.1 and IFB.1, are thus negatively involved. It follows a disjunct interrelation, which means each subject has a further interest in that the other subject’s interest, negatively involved with its own interest, is not satisfied. Hence, a new pair of interests, A’s interest ISA.1 and B’s interest ISB.1, goes to join the pair of interests IFA.1 and IFB.1 (belonging to A and B), whose object is the non-satisfaction of IFB.1 and the non-satisfaction of IFA.1, respectively.

By representing A’s and B’s fields of interests with two oriented segments, ab and cd, we have the diagram n.2, where:

(1) IFA.1 and IFB.1  are negatively involved;

(2) ISA.1 and ISB.1  are two instrumental interests: ISA.1 is instrumental to IFA.1, ISB.1 is instrumental to IFB.1;

(3) ISA.1 and ISB.1 are disjunctly interrelated, given that ISA.1 object is the non-satisfaction of IFB.1, and ISB.1 object is the non-satisfaction of IFA.1;

(4) ɩA.1 and ɩB.1 express the intensity levels of the interests IFA.1 and IFB.1, which are the highest compared to the intensity levels of all other interests belonging to A’s and B’s fields of interests.» IT

(Concorrenza, collettivismo e pianificazione [Competition. collectivism and planning], pp. 14-15)

Overcoming conflict

«One of the most important problems in the field of social studies is how to overcome conflict (negative involvement of interests). In fact, negative involvement expresses a situation of perfect social inertia, since neither of the two subjects is able to carry out autonomously their own operant sequence as the other subject, bringing into action the opposite operant sequence, blocks him (bars the reinforcement of the other subject’s instrumental sequence). Both operant sequences exclude each other, since it is impossible, by definition, that one subject can share the sequence that the other subject can carry out, and vice versa.

Leaving aside a resort to physical force, which is not taken into consideration within social science, there are only three modalities by which to overcome the inherent inertia of negative involvement. The first one concerns the change of one or both subjects’ field of interests, which occurs in the context of evolutionary dynamics (history time). By definition, it is not taken into consideration within the theory of interests and the experimental analysis of behavior founded on functions that include only repetition time as an implicit independent variable. The second and the third modalities concern power (typical of institutions) and exchange (typical of the market).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 338-339)

The Power

Definition

«Power, in its more abstract definition, occurs when a majority group (with greater social strength) opposes a (deviant) subject or a minority group (deviant too) that has one of his interests conflicting (negatively involved) with the interest (positively involved) that establishes the majority group.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 339)

Social Strength

«The relation [IFA.1] pi [IFB.1] […] defines the social strength of the majority group (in this case composed of A and B).»

«Social strength is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for power.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 339, 341)

Conflict

«The relation [IFB.1] ni [IFC.1] […] defines the situation of conflict between the majority group and the subject C (deviant).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 339)

Choice (Exclusive Disjunction)

«The relation [IFB.1] pi [IFC.2] […] defines the condition that makes it possible for the majority group to impose on subject C an exclusive disjunction between two interests with different intensity levels: the interest IFC.1 (lower in intensity) and the interest IFC.2 (higher in intensity: iC.2 > iC.1).  The majority group settles (on the grounds of social strength) a new positive-involvement relation between IFB.1 and IFC.2. In fact, if subject C satisfies IFC.2,  then he/she necessarily sacrifices IFC.1 and the majority group’s interest IFB.1 (together with the positively involved interest IFA.1 ) is necessarily satisfied—in accordance with the negative involvement between IFB.1 and IFC.1

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 339)

Potential deviation and Actual Deviation

Therefore, a further condition is needed for power: «that at least one interest with a higher intensity level than the interest in conflict (i.e., the interest which is negatively involved with the majority group’s interest) exists in the deviant’s field.»

«In this case, a mediate (indirect) positive involvement (acting by power) is established between the majority group’s interest IFB.1 and the deviant’s interest IFC.2, and the latter subject becomes a potential deviant. On the contrary, subject C becomes an actual deviant if it satisfies its own interest IFC.1, which is negatively involved with the interest IFB.1 that represents the positive involvement of interests of the majority group. This occurs when the deviant’s interest IFC.1 holds the highest intensity level and, therefore, there is not any interest in the deviant subject’s field that makes it possible for the group with larger social strength to establish a relation of power.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 341, 340)

Logical Formulas for the Power

«In logical terms, power can be expressed by the conjunction of the formulas concerning the negative involvement (conflict) and the mediate positive involvement (related to social strength):

{~([IFB.1] [IFC.1])  ([IFB.1] [IFC.2])};

from these formulas it can be derived the exclusive disjunction:

{([IFC.1] [IFC.2]) ~([IFC.1] [IFC.2])}.

It follows that

if [IFC.2] (given ɩC.2 > ɩC.1),

then ([~IFC.1] [IFB.1]).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 351)

On power, social strength and choice (exclusive disjunction)

«We define the social strength of B related to its interest IFB.1 —which is negatively involved with C’s interest IFC.1 and positively involved with A’s interest IFA.1— as the conjunct interrelation between ISA.1 and ISB.1, namely the relation [ISA.1] cr [ISB.1] that allows subject B to bring about the non-satisfaction of C’s interest IFC.1.

Subject B could obtain the non-satisfaction of C’s interest IFC.1 by carrying out an operant sequence to physically stop subject C’s operant sequence RSC.1 → RCC.1. In such a case, however, there would be no use of social strength by subject B, but rather the use of a mere physical strength. The social interaction would be replaced by a physical relation. The only way for B to bring about the non-satisfaction of C’s interest IFC.1 –within the schema of interaction and hence in a context of social behaviors– is to use the social strength that comes to B from the relation [ISA.1cr [ISB.1] to settle an alternative to C between the non-satisfaction of the interest IFC.1 (given [IFA.1ni [IFC.1]) and the non-satisfaction (here, too, by B) of another C’s interest IFC.2 having an intensity level higher than the intensity level ɩC.1 of IFC.1C.2 [IFC.2] > ɩC.1 [IFC.1]). […]

The social strength that empowers B not to satisfy C’s interest IFC.2 allows B to socially settle a positive involvement between its own interest IFB.1 and C’s interest IFC.2. […]

As a result of the two interests, IFB.1 and IFC.2, becoming socially involved (because the social group makes the satisfaction of IFB.1 correspond to the satisfaction of IFC.2), subject C is faced with an alternative of action that forces he/she to choose to satisfy either the interest IFC.1 with an intensity level ɩC.1 or the interest IFC.2 with an intensity level ɩC.2 > ɩC.1. The condition ɩC.2 > ɩC.1 motivates subject C to satisfy the interest IFC.2 in preference to IFC.1. Satisfying C’s interest IFC.2 necessarily implies satisfying B’s interest IFB.1, being the latter positively involved with C’s interest IFC.2. The condition for B’s interest IFB.1 to be satisfied (and, hence, for C’s interest IFC.2 to be necessarily satisfied, too) is that C must not satisfy IFC.1 (whose intensity level is ɩC.1 < ɩC.2, as said).» IT

(Concorrenza, collettivismo e pianificazione [Competition, collectivism and planning], pp. 19-20)

Institutionalized interests and deviation

«In the social context, two sets of relations can be identified both within state groups, expressly taken into consideration with reference to their internal deviation, and within non-state groups, with respect to which the internal deviation is not taken specifically into consideration:

1. a set expressing behaviors (interests) that stabilized in the personality during the socialization process, namely models (types) of choice that the individual internalized and is available to carry out spontaneously (without punitive constraints); here, the individual’s interests are not conflicting but positively involved, in an immediate way, with institutionalized interests (in the case of a state group);

2. a set expressing behaviors (interests) the individual realizes not because he/she internalized them (having, on the contrary, internalized models of choice which are incompatible with them) but because he/she conforms to a punitive-type constraint; here, despite having internalized interests negatively involved with the institutionalized ones, the individual is forced (by the logic of the punitive action) not to satisfy the internalized interests to avoid punishment (the latter could be satisfied only in the event of a more or less radical change in state law). Those internalized interests that cannot be satisfied amount to as many potential deviations which the individual does not put into actual deviations when he chooses to comply with the institutionalized norm, thus realizing an indirect (mediate) positive involvement with institutionalized interests.» IT

(G. Bolacchi, Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 54-55)

The Exchange

Definition

The relation of exchange «concerns two subjects, each of whom has two interests negatively involved with as many corresponding interests of the other subject; with the further condition that the two negative-involvement relations take place only between subjects’ interests with a transposed intensity-level order (i.e., with the exclusion of the case in which the two subjects’ interests that are negatively involved are the ones with a higher intensity level or the ones with a lower intensity level).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 341)

Crossed (Reciprocal) Negative Involvement

«The relations [IFA.1] ni [IFB.2] e [IFA.2] ni [IFB.1] […] define the specific crossed negative involvements among interests under which neither subject can satisfy both interests of his own field (since, by definition, the social strength is excluded in this situation), but each one of them can satisfy only one of the two interests negatively involved with as many interests of the other subject and sacrifice the other one—in accordance with the transposed intensity-level order.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 341)

Mediate Positive Involvement

«The relation [IFA.2] pi [IFB.2] […] defines the mediate(indirect) positive involvement (acting by exchange) requiring that both subjects satisfy their interest with the higher intensity level and contextually sacrifice their interest with lower intensity level. It takes place, as to A, with the satisfaction of the interest IFA.2 (higher in intensity) and the contextual sacrifice of the interest IFA.1 (lower in intensity: iA.1 < iA.2) and, as to B, with the satisfaction of the interest IFB.2 (higher in intensity) and the contextual sacrifice of the interest IFB.1 (lower in intensity: iB.1 < iB.2).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 341-342)

Logical Formulas for the Exchange

«In logical terms, exchange can be expressed by the conjunction of the formulas concerning the crossed negative involvement:

{~([IFA.1] [IFB.2]) ~([IFA.2] [IFB.1])};

from these formulas it can be derived two exclusive disjunctions:

{([IFA.1] [IFA.2]) ~([IFA.1] [IFA.2])}

and

{([IFB.1] [IFB.2]) ~([IFB.1] [IFB.2])}

that express the mediate positive involvement

([IFA.2] [IFB.2]).

It follows that

if ([IFA.2] [IFB.2]) (given ɩA.2 > ɩA.1 e ɩB.2 > ɩB.1),

then ([~IFA.1] [~IFB.1]).»

(A new paradigm for the Integration of the Social Sciences, p. 352)

On the crossed (reciprocal) negative involvement

«The disjunct interrelation which explicates the system of exchange requires that each subject has at least two interests negatively involved with as many interests belonging to the other subject, in the way described by the following diagram:Giulio Bolacchi - Scambio e coinvolgimento negativo reciproco

In the situation depicted, none of the subjects can satisfy both of its interests since, by definition, it has no social force to use in this respect. On the contrary, each subject is in a position to satisfy at least one of its two interests negatively involved with as many interests belonging to the other subject. In fact, given that A’s interest IFA.1 has an intensity level ɩA.1 lower than the intensity level of A’s interests IFA.2  and, similarly, B’s interest IFB.1 has an intensity level ɩB.1 lower than the intensity level of B’s interests IFB.2, both subjects have an advantage if they satisfy their interests with the higher intensity level. In such a case, subject A satisfies the interest IFA.2 (negatively involved with B’s interest IFB.1), whereas subject B satisfies the interest IFB.2 (negatively involved with A’s interest IFA.1). Both A and B will thus earn more than they can lose. Only when two subjects are in this particular reciprocal position do they engage in a social interaction, which takes the form of an exchange. This schema shows that, in the exchange, the subjects have some interests ordered differently. It is precisely the different ordering of the same type of interests belonging to two subjects’ fields of interests that makes the exchange possible.» IT

(Concorrenza, collettivismo e pianificazione [Competition, collectivism and planning], pp. 24-25)

The economic interpretation of the exchange and competition

«A second facet, equally important to provide an economic characterization of the exchange, should be analyzed: the competition. In the economic interpretation, the exchange refers to the activity carried out by the subjects who sell goods (services) and receive other goods so that individual “ophelimities” are maximized. Competition refers instead to the activity of producers, each of which does act taking into account the other producers’ behavior.»

«First, given two producers, A and C, we observe that each has an interest in taking away all buyers from the other. Therefore, a disjunct interrelation exists between the two producers’ interests, which is different from the one between the subjects in the exchange. Indeed, in this case, satisfying producer A’s interest implies necessarily not satisfying producer C’s interest, and vice versa. Hence, unlike the case of the exchange (where the interrelation takes such a form that both subjects benefit from exchanging), in the case of competition is not possible for both producers to take advantage; instead, one’s advantage is necessarily related to the other’s damage.

Second, we must point out that the conflict between producers is not resolved through a social interaction which leads to producer A acting to modify producer C’s behavior and vice versa, as it happens in the case of power. In fact–given it must be ruled out that the conflict between A and C can be solved by non-social means (physical strength), and it must also be ruled out that the conflict can be solved by one producer using social strength to determine the non-satisfaction of the other producer’s interest, as in the schema typical of the relation of power–A can resolve the conflict with C in its favor in one only way: giving consumers a greater advantage than they would get in the exchange with C. This means that A should sell its product at a lower price than that charged by C, if the goods produced by A and C are identical, or the good produced by A should be of a higher quality than that produced by C, if A and C produce the same type of goods but not identica. In both cases, consumers would prefer buying from A rather than C and the elimination of C from the market would follow. The fact that A can charge a lower price or produce a higher quality good than C depends, in either case, on its capacity to organize the production activity more efficiently than C. Therefore, A’s activity is aimed at improving the productivity of its company, rather than directly changing C’s behavior. A’s activity influences C’s activity only indirectly; as a matter of fact, C must take into account the exchange conditions offered by A and try to offer more advantageous conditions to consumers, not to be eliminated from the market.

Ultimately, the disjunct interrelation between A and C results in behaviors by A and C carried out exclusively in the context of production organization; these behaviors aim to ensure that the exchange activity always takes place between consumers, on the one side, and only one of the producers on the other side.» IT

(Concorrenza, collettivismo e pianificazione [Competition, collectivism and planning], pp. 29, 30-31)

We can explicate the competition, from a structural perspective, through the following diagram:

Giulio Bolacchi - Competizione e scambio

«Subject A can resolve the conflict to its favor with subject C in only one way: by offering consumers a greater advantage than the one they would obtain if they exchanged with C. This situation can be described by figure 15.7, which shows:

– the relations [IFB.1] ni [IFA.2] and [IFB.2] ni [IFA.1], which define the exchange conditions between B (consumer) and A (producer),

– the relations [IFB.1’] ni [IFC.2] and [IFB.2] ni [IFC.1], which define the exchange conditions between B (consumer) and C (the producer competing with A, who is left out of the exchange with B),

and

– the relation [IFB.2] pi [IFA.2], which defines the exchange interaction between B (consumer) and A (producer).

The exclusion of C is due to the fact that B (consumer) has a lower advantage in realizing the exchange behavior with it, since such behavior would imply that B sacrifices the interest IFB.1’, with an intensity level higher than the intensity level of interest IFB.1 (ɩB.1’ > ɩB.1), which is sacrificed when it exchanges with A. Consequently B must exchange (i.e., it is conditioned to exchange, in conformity with the explicative postulates of behavior) with A instead of C.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 345)

Now, let us analyze from the structural perspective the social interaction between the two producers, one of whom exchanges while the other is excluded from the exchange. We have the following diagram:

Giulio Bolacchi - Competizione e conflitto

«The social interaction between the two producers, A and C, which is implicit in figure 15.7, can be clarified by reversing the positions of A’s and B’s fields of interests. Figure 15.8 shows:

– the relations [IFA.1] ni [IFB.2], [IFA.2] ni [IFB.1] and [IFB.2] pi [IFA.2], which define the exchange interaction between A (producer) e B (consumer),

– the relations [IFA.1] ni [IFC.1] and [IFA.2] ni [IFC.2], which define the competition between the two producers A and C.

From the above relations if follows that the satisfaction of A’s interest IFA.2, with an intensity level higher than IFA.1, corresponds to the non-satisfaction of C’s interest IFC.2; and, vice versa, the sacrifice of A’s interest IFA.1 corresponds to the satisfaction of C’s interest IFC.1, which holds however an intensity level lower than IFC.2, namely the interest that C would had satisfied if he was not left out of the exchange.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 345, 347)

Preference, instrumentality, utility and choice

«The explication of exchange within the theory of interests proves that the “is not preferred to” relation, which is the only one economists take into consideration, is coupled with the “is instrumental to” relation. As stated above, both the “is instrumental to” and the “is not preferred to” relations derive from the experimental analysis of behavior. Within the theory of interests, they are expressed by the instrumentality degree and the intensity level, respectively. Therefore it can be confirmed that economic behavior is a subset of social behavior.

With reference to exchange, the “is not preferred to” relation has to be supposed between a behavior that is realized (preferred) and a (non-preferred) behavior whose non-realization is made instrumental to the behavior that is realized. Therefore, it is not sufficient that one behavior is preferred to another. A further condition is required, which is expressed by the theory of interests: the non-preferred interest has to be sacrificed (not satisfied) and its sacrifice has to be made instrumental to the satisfaction of the preferred interest.

G. Bolacchi, Teoria degli interessi: diagramma della relazione di scambioThis specific compatibility between a subset of interests ordered by the “is not preferred to” relation and a corresponding subset of interests ordered by the “is instrumental to” relation defines the concept of choice. The assumptions characterizing the consumption sets on the economic analysis level (Debreu 1959, pp. 52ff.) apply to it. In this particular case, the position of a subject achieving the exchange can be expressed by saying that the marginal rate of substitution (MRS) between the interest (IFA.2 for subject A and IFB.2 for subject B) with a higher intensity level (ιA.2 and ιB.2 respectively) and the interest (IFA.1 for subject A and IFB.1 for subject B) with lower intensity level (ιA.1 and ιB.1 respectively) concerns the degree of satisfaction of the interest IFA.1 or IFB.1, which the subject who exchanges renounces in order to obtain an increase in the degree of satisfaction for the interest IFA.2 or IFB.2. Moving downward along the indifference curve for the two interests IFA.1 and IFA.2 (for subject A) or IFB.1 and IFB.2 (for subject B), the subject who exchanges determines a decrease of the MRS(IFA.1, IFA.2) or MRS(IFB.1, IFB.2).

Simplifying the notation with reference to marginal utility (MU), it can be said that MRSxy = MUx/MUy. The exchange is mutually profitable when given a subject A with MRSxy and a subject B with MRSx’y’ the condition MRSxy ≠ MRSx’y’ (and the corresponding MUx/MUy ≠ MUx’/MUy’) occurs.

In economic language, the quantities Qx, Qy of the two goods x and y (namely, the interests IFA.1 and IFA.2 – or IFB.1 and IFB.2 – or rather the two given consumption sets) establish a curve which is usually interpreted as an equivalence class with respect to the indifference relation “x1i ≤ y2i and y2i ≤ x1i” which is denoted “x1i ~ y2i”. In this sense, the equivalence class is named an indifference class (Debreu 1959, p.54).

The theory of interests proves that the equivalence class – with respect to the indifference relation between {IFiA.1 and IFiA.2} or {IFiB.1 and IFiB.2} – can be interpreted as an equivalence class in terms of instrumentality involving the sacrifice of one interest and the corresponding satisfaction of another interest, i.e., an equivalence class with respect to the instrumentality relation between {~IFiA.1 → IFiA.2} or {~IFiB.1 → IFiB.2}.

In this sense, equivalence classes are not indifference classes, but rather instrumentality classes of one interest, which is sacrificed, with respect to another interest, which is satisfied. That is, they are equivalence classes with respect to the instrumentality relation between two sets in terms of sacrifice-satisfaction (choice). On that account, these equivalence classes assume that the two interests are ordered primarily according to their intensity level, which determines which of the two interests has to be satisfied and which one has to be instrumentally sacrificed. Therefore, the order of intensity is a premise for the order of instrumentality in terms of sacrifice-satisfaction.

This interpretation can be used to explicate the concepts of preference and utility within the more general behavioristic language. Preference expresses the order of intensity levels, whereas utility, in a general sense, does not express a property of one interest, but rather an instrumentality relation between two interests, one of which is sacrificed in order to gain the satisfaction of the other one. The utility of one interest is determined by the instrumentality of the sacrifice of another interest.

In economic language, utility is defined by the order of indifference classes, i.e., by the partitions of the consumption set obtained using the equivalence classes with respect to the indifference relation. On this subject, Debreu (1959) states: “Is it possible to associate with each class a real number in such a way that, if a class is preferred to another, the number of the first is greater than the number of the second? In other words, given a set completely preordered by preferences, does there exist an increasing … real-valued function on that set? Such a function is called a utility function” (pp. 55-56).

In the same way, the concept of utility can be applied to the order of equivalence classes with respect to the instrumentality relation. The two definitions of utility, the one based on instrumentality classes and the other based on indifference classes (to which economists refer), are consistent with the theory of interests and with the economic theory.

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 342-344)

Public goods and free riding

When speaking of public goods, economists speak of goods that are non-excludable and non-rival in consumption. Being based on the concept of exchange and the resultant concept of the market, economic analysis, however, does not admit the concept of positive involvement of interests in its language domain and field of study.

«By defining the public good according to the exchange paradigm (which leaves out of consideration the direct positive involvement of interest), the economic analysis poses the problem of financing the costs related to the optimal production level of the public good. However, identifying this level requires each subject to be willing to contribute to the costs (that is, to cooperate in terms of exchange) in proportion to the actual marginal benefit deriving from the public good.

On the contrary, free riders, who act only in exchange terms, tend to reveal an underestimated preference for the public good compared to the actual marginal benefit, namely a marginal willingness to pay that tends to be zero.

Hence, in market logic, the presence of the free riders implies that the public good’s production level tends to be zero. That happens because the free riders presuppose the public good will be made available in any way, regardless of whether they contribute or do not contribute to its cost-financing. Namely, they presuppose that each subject can freely use the public good (or the public good is produced at no cost to the subjects), which hypothesis is incompatible with the market logic.

It is a typical antinomy. The free riders behave according to the market logic (characterized by rival or antagonistic consumption, i.e., by the exchange expressing a particular type of negative involvement of interests). Nevertheless, a subject must necessarily assume a non-rival (i.e., non-antagonistic) consumption to behave as a free rider; hence, they must presuppose a public good (to which the free-rider activity refers) however available to them at no cost. Namely, they must presuppose an immediate positive involvement (not the mediate positive involvement typical of the market) in the public good on which their role rests-a positive involvement between interests (having as their object the public good) shared by a more or less large group of subjects, such that the free rider’s interest in using the public good cannot be excluded, regardless of its participation in the cost-financing for the public good (mutual non-exclusion about the public good).

Where all the subjects belonging to the group behaved as free riders, they would break the immediate positive involvement related to the public good. The free riders themselves would have no reason to exist because the public good would not even be produced. The public good would not exist, or rather could not be determined, since it is such not because of some natural feature, but only because of a specific social interaction, an immediate positive involvement of interests.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 184-186)

«The contradiction is striking, and one cannot get through it by attempting an explication in terms of the market logic alone, which is founded on the negative involvement of interests. Namely, one cannot get through it by claiming to explain public goods through the concepts of cooperation and non-excludable consumption taken as primitive concepts, which are not definable within the economic analysis and undefined outside it.

From a perspective of analysis more abstract than the economic one, we can schematize the concept of the public good within the theory of interests as a typical social interaction characterized by an immediate positive involvement referring to an interest (belonging to a majority group) whose object is the strict conformity between the revealed preferences for the public good and the actual marginal benefit related to the availability (or production) levels of the public good. Namely, we can relate the concept of public good to a social interaction characterized by an immediate positive involvement referring to an interest in not distorting (in the light of the minimization of the burden of participation in the total cost) the revealed preferences for the public good.

Such an immediate positive involvement concerning (as mentioned above) a majority group implies a further immediate positive involvement shared by the same subjects, which refers to an interest in assigning to the State (i.e., to the majority group) the task of determining the production-level and the cost-financing of the public good, outside the market. The cost-financing for the public good has to weigh on the minority group of the potential free riders, too (i.e., those subjects who have an interest in providing distorted information about their preferences about the public good to avoid contributing to its financing). This result can be pursued by power (expressed in an institutionalized norm), which makes it possible to overcome the negative involvement between the majority group’s interest in truthful “revealed preferences” and the minority group’s interest in distorted “revealed preferences.”

Exchange cannot overcome the negative involvement between the two groups because, in this situation, realizing an exchange interaction would be tantamount to eliminating the interest in truthful “revealed preferences” and bringing the problem within the market, thus making the problem itself contradictory and hence irresoluble. As stated above, this problem can only be overcome through power.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 187-188)

The Organization

Definition

«The organization is explicated in scientific terms by the positive involvement, with specific reference to the essential condition of the reciprocal complementarity of the two distinct instrumental interest sequences carried out by each subject. This reciprocal complementarity among instrumental interests belonging to different fields of interests implies that the set of all conjointly interrelated instrumental interests is such that, in principle, each instrumental interest defines an organizational role and each role, thus differentiated, is assigned to either subject whose interests are positively involved.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 348)

Organization and Reciprocal Complementarity

«The concept of reciprocal complementarity is different from the concept of instrumental order of operant sequences. The basic factor of positive involvement is not the instrumental order of operant sequences, and hence of instrumental interests (although the order is in any case presupposed), but rather the reciprocal positive reinforcement as is made evident by the experimental analysis of behavior; even if common sense cannot discover it, as it perceives only the instrumental order of behaviors. As a matter of fact, there can be sets of instrumentally ordered behaviors of two (or more) subjects, but if the behavioral sequences do not positively reinforce each other, they on their own do not bring about positive involvement.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, p. 337)

Organization and Exchange

«Exchange entails a particular type of negative involvement between pairs of interests belonging to two (or more) subjects and results in an indirect (mediate) positive involvement distinguished from the direct (immediate) positive involvement. Having said that, and being understood that the founding element of the organization at the most abstract level is the immediate positive involvement of interests, it could be that access to organizational roles (defined by complementary instrumental behavioral sequences) occurs through the exchange. In this special case, the exchange works as a means for the acquisition or assignment of organizational roles; however, it does not qualify organizational roles, whose sole reference point is the positive involvement mediated by the exchange. The organization is not exchange, but positive involvement, which can also result from the exchange as a specific modality to overcome social conflict.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], pp. 287-288)

Organizational Efficiency

«When the organization presents an equilibrium configuration, that is economic efficiency of the exchanges that all subjects individually realize with the organization to manage the organizational roles, then the specific case of an indirect (mediate) positive involvement occurs within the organization. This type of positive involvement does not establish, by definition, the well-structured set of instrumental roles characterizing the organization; it only results in a bilateral instrumentality between the roles of the subjects who take part in the exchange. It does not establish the instrumental organizational roles; instead, it defines the mode of acquisition and management of the organizational roles with reference to the (labor) market.

The above means that the economic efficiency of an organization differs from its functionality. Indeed, the conditions for the equilibrium of the exchange (work provision for remuneration) between individuals and the organization (i.e., between individuals and the roles resulting from the immediate positive involvement) may be a necessary prerequisite for the functionality conditions but not a sufficient prerequisite for the latter being realized.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 179-180)

Organizational Functionality

«The minimum reference paradigm to establish an organization requires at least one immediate positive involvement, besides the exchange, between the two subjects in the exchange (the entrepreneur and the worker, in the case of organizations operating in the market): an immediate positive involvement referring to the interest in the compatibility between the exchange and the organizational objectives. The optimal reference paradigm would occur if the subjects in the exchange had an immediate positive involvement in the organizational objectives, fully or partially, and not only in the compatibility between the exchange and those objectives.

There are many ways to realize a positive involvement referring to the organization’s objectives (including partnership in the firm). The organizational functionality (hence, firm functionality, too) strictly relates to the type and extent of the positive involvement referring to the organizational objectives, shared by the subjects working within the organization.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], p. 182)

Organization and Power

«The power, in its explication within the theory of interests, can be used within the organization to give rise to an indirect (mediate) positive involvement. Again, what establishes the organization is not the choice (exclusive disjunction) presented to the external party (subject) between sacrificing an interest negatively involved with the organization (the latter characterized by the social strength given by the immediate positive involvement) and satisfying an interest with a higher intensity level. What establishes the organization is the indirect (mediate) positive involvement between the latter interest and the organization.

Hence, the organization is defined by the reciprocal complementarity of instrumental sequences implicated by the positive involvement of interests; as such, it should not be confused with the exchange, much less power. However, exchange and power can be used to integrate the organization because of the indirect (mediate) positive involvement implicated in their pursuance.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], p. 288)

Bureaucratic Organization

With regard to bureaucratic organizations, «one difficulty concerns the performing of stable tasks and relates to the fact that role stability is compatible with either high or low levels of discretion in its exercise. A second and different difficulty concerns the routine (the performing of repetitive tasks) determining the static nature of the organizational roles (which differs from their stability). Given that the concept of bureaucracy refers to the normative and analytical definition of the roles and the related possible discretionary choices (this is the concept of stability), there can be both static bureaucracies (where roles have no margin for discretion) and relatively dynamic bureaucracies (where roles have a more or less wide set of pre-defined discretionary choices).» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], p. 285)

On the immediate and the mediate positive involvement

«Summing up, the theory of interests identifies one type of negative involvement and two types of positive involvement: (1) the immediate (direct) positive involvement, which occurs when the positively involved interests are stabilized in each subject’s field of interests, apart from any exchange or power relation; (2) the mediate (indirect) positive involvement obtained through exchange or power, which are the two specific social interactions that make it possible to overcome situations of conflict (negative involvement of interests).

On the logical level, both typologies of positive involvement are characterized by two necessary conditions: mutual implication of final interests and reciprocal complementarity of instrumental sequences. The difference between the two forms of positive involvement is given by a further condition that must be necessarily fulfilled only in the case of mediate (indirect) positive involvement: at least one of the two subjects (as stated above, the subject having less social strength in the case of power, both subjects in the case of exchange) not only must realize the instrumental sequence related to the positively involved (in a mediated way) interest, which is complementary to the other subject’s sequence, but must also instrumentally sacrifice the interest with an intensity level lower than the one positively involved (in the mediated way). That is, at least one of the two subjects must realize a sacrifice-satisfaction instrumentality relation (choice).»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 347-348)

The science of organization and organizational technologies

The theory of interests is a scientific paradigm for the integration between behavioral and social disciplines, allowing for the development of organizational technologies focused on the human organism as their primary point of reference. Within this paradigm, the organization is a set of behaviors characterized by reciprocal complementarity. This complementarity expresses itself in an ordered set of roles and relations between roles, together with the definition of degrees of discretion of roles compatible with the organizational requirements for rationality, adaptation to the environment and capability for innovation, and the detection and elimination of misuses of roles (deviation).

Organizational modalities are specified with reference to the ability to promote an organizational culture characterized in terms of meritocratic conformity with the reference paradigms, operational rationality, and innovation; to the ability to manage interpersonal behaviors of cooperation and conflict, exchange and power; to the ability to manage role asymmetry in a context aimed at eliminating conflicts and strengthening participatory leaderships. From this perspective, human capital management issues are reformulated to define individual and group reinforcement contingencies aimed at promoting behaviors consistent with the organizational objectives and discouraging opportunistic behaviors. Managing communication processes also deserves particular attention regarding the different uses of language and the different degrees of internalization of the organizational objectives.

Another critical issue to consider from a behavioral perspective and in logical-methodological terms concerns the individual and group decision-making processes. These processes should rely on framing concrete problems within scientific reference paradigms; as a general rule, logical fallacies, emotional and irrational behaviors, prejudices and biases, subjective perceptions, and evaluations not conforming to both available evidence and rational calculation should be detected and eliminated. In a word, subjective opinions which could go to the detriment of intersubjectivity criteria should be managed.

Different types of organization

«Prison, as to the role of prisoners, is the typical form of power-based organization. Prisoners adapt to the roles determined by the prison organization (which are incompatible, by definition, with their roles in external society) because power confronts them with a choice (exclusive disjunction) between their lower intensity-level interest in committing further crimes within the prison (which is negatively involved with the public interest) and their higher intensity-level interest in reentering civil society (which is positively involved, in an indirect or mediate way, with the public interest). The power schema explicated within the theory of interests provides a rational explanation for the prisoner’s behavior, leaving aside the commonsense concept of physical strength. The prison organization, that is, the strict complementarity between all prisoners’ roles and (instrumental) behaviors, is based not on physical coercion but (as in all organizations) on positive involvement, which here is indirect, mediated by power.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], p. 273)


«The firm, as to the employees’ roles, is the typical form of exchange-based organization. The exchange schema explicated within the theory of interests provides a rational explanation of the employee’s and the entrepreneur’s behaviors. It can be said that (a) the employee sacrifices their lower intensity-level interest in the full availability of their time and their physical and intellectual resources to satisfy their higher intensity-level interest in getting a salary, and (b) the entrepreneur sacrifices their lower intensity-level interest in the full availability of their monetary resources to satisfy their higher intensity-level interest in inserting the labor factor into the combination of production factors. The exchange relation, too, implies an indirect (mediate) positive involvement between the employee’s and the entrepreneur’s interests that are satisfied because of their higher intensity level compared to the two sacrificed interests. This very indirect positive involvement mediated by the exchange expresses the strict reciprocal complementarity between all the employees’ roles and (instrumental) behaviors within the business organization.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], p. 274)


«Religion, as to the roles of all subjects who profess the same faith, is the typical form of organization based on the immediate (direct) positive involvement of interests, which excludes in principle any exchange or power relation between religious persons. It means that, within the religious organization, the strict reciprocal complementarity between all believers’ roles and (instrumental) behaviors is a direct expression of the immediate positive involvement of interests; that is, it only rests on this primary type of social interaction (the other primary type of social interaction is the negative involvement of interests). The immediate (direct) positive involvement characterizes, in principle, all the organizations not based on exchange or power; therefore, not only the religious groups but any group of subjects who have internalized common objectives. In this respect, the state, the family, friend groups, social classes, political parties do not differ from a religious group as to the most abstract typology of social interaction characterizing them.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], p. 275)


«The state, to be such, must express a widespread consent (immediate positive involvement) of the citizens to the constitution. A political party cannot likewise stand without some form of widespread consent to certain political objectives, which can also be ideological. Even in this case, what matters is not ideology (contrary to the commonsense view) but the immediate positive involvement of interests within the political group, that is, the internalization of common objectives, regardless of their ideological connotation. Political groups (or the state) can extend their consensus base through exchange or power, but an immediate positive involvement must preexist for this extension to be achieved.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], p. 287)

The organization and the transaction costs

«A specific area of organizational studies has arisen and consolidated within economics. […]

The main initiator of this area of study was H. A. Simon. He conceived the organization structure as characterized by the balance between contributions and incentives, such that each subject (each member and each group of members) participate in the organization (i.e., it remains in the organization) as it receives from the organization inducements in return for their contributions. This initial postulate implies that “each participant will continue his participation in an organization only so long as the inducements offered him are as great or greater … than the contributions he is asked to make.”

Translating in terms of the theory of interests, this means a subject participates in the organization only if the intensity level of its (final) interest satisfied by the organization (incentive, benefit) is higher than the intensity level of the interest sacrificed to stay in the organization (contribution, cost). Accordingly, the theory of interests makes it possible to explain this situation in formal and rigorous terms as an exchange relation.

The inadequacy of Simon’s description, however, results from the fact that the very concept of the organization remains out of the contribution-incentive balance; it looks like he assumes it as an indefinite primitive predicate. The same is for the concept of group, which Simon uses improperly in his definition of the concept of organization, not realizing the group is itself an organization.

R. H. Coase hypothesized another perspective, in many ways similar to the previous one, attempting to formulate the inner workings of the organization in economic terms; O. Williamson delved into it. This perspective considers organizations (in a very general sense, including several variants) in light of transaction cost reduction.

Whereas Simon’s hypothesis attempts to make the system of exchanges inside the organization explicit, Williamson’s theory places the problem of the organization within the more general problem of the market exchange and the transaction costs that should characterize the latter on a more abstract theoretical level. However, to say that organizations are more efficient than the market when dealing with complex and uncertain transactions because these transaction costs would be lower using the organization rather than the market, does not mean defining, much less explaining, the concept of organization, which is taken into consideration as an indefinite primitive predicate also in this case.

When studying organizations according to the paradigm of maximizing results or minimizing costs (efficiency of the organization), it is necessary to restrict the analyses to the market exchange issues. However, the attempt to explain the concept of organization with only the predicate of exchange posits that the latter is the sole relation characterizing all social interactions, none excluded. From this perspective, there cannot be any set of social behaviors not susceptible, by definition, to be included in the more general set of exchange behaviors.

The scientific analysis of behavior, and on a more abstract level the theory of interests, show that the approach to the organizational issues is much more elaborated and allows for mistakes, contradictions and the partial viewpoints of current research to be detected and overcame.» IT

(Il concetto di organizzazione secondo il paradigma scientifico [The concept of organization in the scientific paradigm], pp. 286-287)

Cooperation (and the concept of firm) within economic analysis

«It is not possible to define cooperation by using the reference schema of the exchange, as a branch of economic analysis claims to do (Buchanan, 1964). Under this logic, cooperation would arise when the expected benefits related to the achievement of a given social object (that cannot be attained directly by the single subjects through the market, owing to the lack of sufficient incentives) are higher than the costs inherent in some “adaptation” to a “voluntary cooperation” among several subjects. Thus “voluntary cooperation” is regarded as a typology of social interaction (in which also the firm, as organization, can be included) aimed at satisfying those interests that get no incentive from the market, through a multiplicity of exchanges (among subjects cooperating in satisfying what should be a common interest), so that an equilibrium situation takes place, optimizing the cooperation positions of the single subjects. The theory of interests points out the inconsistency of Buchanan’s argumentations. He confuses cooperation with exchange when he states that, on the one hand, cooperation aims at satisfying those (common) interests that get no incentive from the market and that, on the other hand, this satisfaction should take place through a multiplicity of exchanges among cooperating subjects. It is true that those interests which are satisfied through cooperation get no incentive from the market; this is explicated in the theory of interests by the positive involvement. However, it is contradictory to state that cooperation should always take place through a multiplicity of exchanges, because cooperation and exchange are two different types of social behavior (belonging to two disjoint sets). Buchanan and several other economists, such as R. H. Coase, M. Olson, K. J. Arrow, H. A. Simon, who have turned their attention to this problem, did not notice that the definition of cooperation (and of organization) by means of exchange can be referred only to the mediate (indirect) positive involvement and not to the immediate (direct) positive involvement.

Since exchange entails a mediate positive involvement, and it can concern any type of interest (or, in economic terms, any  type of service), it is possible that the interest in not bearing the costs inherent in cooperation could be sacrificed, to satisfy the interest in gaining the (expected) benefits of cooperation. This is exactly the case of an interest (lower in intensity) sacrificed to satisfy another interest (higher in intensity) which is satisfied, as occurs in the exchange (as well as in the power). Really the difference between these concepts is founded on the primitive relations of immediate (direct) positive involvement and negative involvement. […] We cannot assume only one of the two postulates to explain all social behaviors. But economists do it.»

(A new paradigm for the integration of the social sciences, pp. 352-353)

Social Structures

«The change in the social system’s objectives is the pivotal phenomenon where the distinction between collectivist society and atomistic or pluralistic society is manifested with particular evidence. The difference between the two types of society does not depend on the presence or absence of conjunct interrelation. It depends on the fact that, in the first type, the conjunct interrelation applies to all interests of all subjects, whereas in the second type, it applies only to a restricted set of interests of all subjects. Hence, in the atomistic or pluralistic society, a set of conjunctly interrelated interests belonging to all subjects exists, which delimits the sphere of behaviors institutionalized into the system; and a set of interests that can be either conjunctly or disjunctly interrelated, but can never be conjunctly interrelated among all subjects, also exists. The latter set of interests identifies the pre-institutional social space.

The pre-institutional social space has its greatest extent in atomistic or pluralistic systems, whereas it is null, by definition, in collectivist systems.» IT

(Processo d’apprendimento e strutture ideologiche [Learning process and ideological structures], p. 6)

Cultural System

«If the cultural system is a subject matter to be taken into consideration within the social science, then it must be explicable through the basic predicates at the foundation of that science. If we assume the interest as the basic predicate, then we find that the so-called cultural system is nothing but a set of interrelated interestsIT

(Il problema del metodo nella sociologia [The problem of method in sociology], p.34)

«The abstract explicative models here used (positive and negative involvement of interests, exchange, power) express a structural perspective, i.e., they define functions, dependent and independent variables, and parameters, which have (with reference to their explicative context) no evolutionary meaning.»

«Studying a culture according to a dynamic paradigm presupposes a structural-type explicative model. With reference to this model, the dynamic analysis identifies the culture-specific operant sequences in a logic of intertemporal change; so that it is possible to bring out the corresponding significant changes (where they exist) in the variables and parameters of the model and also any changes to the functions that relate them, within certain time intervals. The function change expresses the evolutionary dynamics; the changes in the independent and dependent variables (and parameters), given the functional relation, express the structural dynamicsIT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 106-107, 113)

Pluralism and the Pre-institutional Social Space

«From the viewpoint of change, pluralistic societies present a high degree of dynamism, namely a high possibility of change of institutionalized social objectives. As a matter of fact, change originates from a conflict between institutionalized interests and non-institutionalized interests internalized by the subject, that is, from the lack of internalization of some (or many) institutionalized interests. In this case, we speak of deviation from the norms that regulate the system by the subject.

The deviant subject faces two alternatives: either not satisfying the interest which is not compatible with the interests institutionalized within the system (in which case, the subject behaves like a potential deviant) or satisfying the interest which is not compatible with the system, going against it (in which case, the subject behaves like an actual deviant).

The potential-deviation case presents different configurations depending on whether it occurs within a collectivist or a pluralistic system. In the pluralistic system, the subject’s deviant interest can be satisfied indirectly within the pre-institutional social space, where the subject can act to modify the system structures. The democratic regime is an example of the institutionalization of change, which allows for the interests conflicting with institutionalized ones to express themselves within the pre-institutional social space to change the system.

Those subjects who have some interests in conflict with the institutionalized interests can act within the pre-institutional social space to satisfy their interests indirectly, using the various communication media and means of pressure permitted by the democratic system to bring about a change in the institutionalized structures. These subjects thus act as potential deviants, i.e., to modify the institutionalized structures without directly opposing them; if they did, they would become actual deviants and hence would be punished by the system.» IT

(Processo d’apprendimento e strutture ideologiche [Learning process and ideological structures], pp. 6-7)

Institutional Power and Deviant Power

«Power can take two fundamental forms: institutional power and deviant power. […] The institutional-power function manifests itself as the pursuance of the typical values of the entire social group to which power refers, whereas the deviant-power function manifests itself as the creation of new social values compared to those institutionalized in the system. Within a social context, the emergence of values other than the institutionalized ones is possible as the deviant power operates in the pre-institutional social space; in this respect, deviant power should not be confused with the institutional power used for objectives other than those legitimizing it within the system (misguided or misused power, excess or abuse of power). Therefore, within the social system, a sphere of behaviors excluded from the institutional-power scope exists, which can be curtailed by restricting the pre-institutional social space. Enlarging the scope of institutional power cannot find its justification within the institutional power itself. It must be attained necessarily by operating in the pre-institutional social space, where the emergence of new values results from interactions between antagonistic groups in terms of deviant power.

Every social group has perforce to counterbalance the deviant power put in place by antagonistic groups with a deviant power operating in the opposite direction. The contrast between the two types of deviant power, oriented toward the change or the permanence of institutional structures, ultimately tends to enlarge or narrow the social base of acceptance on which institutional power rests, i.e., its social strengthIT

(Potere e strutture sociali [Power and social structures], p. 28)

Deviant Power and Role Discretion

«Potential deviation can occur within the institutionalized status-roles through the dysfunctional use of these roles with respect to the interests that characterize them. That may happen because, as a rule, the social functions pertaining to each status-role have a scope of discretion, in that the circumstances under which the instrumental behaviors specifying the role functions must be carried out are not precisely defined; when these circumstances are not precisely defined, it is up to the holder of the role to determine whether, and to what extent, they exist. In so doing, every subject can conform either to institutionalized common interests or deviant interests (i.e., interests negatively involved with institutionalized ones); in the latter case, the subject makes the status-role functions compatible with the interests in changing the system structures, which characterize the subject’s position as potential deviant.

In this case, the potential deviation translates into a deviant exercise of the functions pertaining to the discretionary status-roles (deviant function or deviant power) to satisfy, indirectly, the interests negatively involved with the institutionalized ones through the use of institutionalized status-roles not in accordance with the institutionalized interests of the group with the broader base of legitimacy.

The change of structures, hence, takes place through a latent conflict between a group of subjects with a broader base of legitimacy expressed in the institutionalized structures (who act, therefore, for the permanence of the system) and a group of subjects who hold institutionalized status-roles, too, but are potential deviants within the system and use their status-roles to change the system structures.» IT

(Processo d’apprendimento e strutture ideologiche [Learning process and ideological structures], pp. 8-9)

Social Classes

Social classes are structurally characterized by a conjunct interrelation based on positively involved common interests, while their action takes place in antagonistic terms (disjunct interrelation based on negatively involved interests). In a pluralistic system, which institutionalizes the social dynamics within a set of stable and organized social interactions, the antagonism between social classes translates into a power relation, thereby leaving aside physical strength. In particular, the social-class action takes place in terms of deviant power and is carried out by a social class, as a whole, against an opposing social class. Deviant power, as such, stands as an element of the social class only in relation to its action within a system of stably organized interactions, and it is aimed at laying the foundations of a new stable system of interactions, i.e., at establishing a mediate positive involvement of common interests tending to supplant the institutionalized one proper to the social system in which the social class operates.

«The social class does not operate within societies where institutional values are totally internalized; indeed, in this case, one could not postulate any interest in changing the structures and, even less, in accelerating or slowing down social dynamics. […] This has been interpreted as meaning that the social-class action should perforce take place in terms of struggle rather than in terms of collaboration or assimilation. Indeed, if it is true that an interest in changing the structures postulates a contrasting interest in their permanence, the conclusion is that social classes are opposed, in principle. What are, however, the nature and the boundaries of this opposition? […] What shall be the extent of class antagonism?

Antagonism cannot operate except within a set of somehow orderly (organized) social relations. An antagonism between two groups that were totally distinct, out of any assimilation setting, could not be qualified in terms of social class or antagonistic relations between social classes–at least if we consider the conflict in the strict sense (according to the characterizations given above) as an action that takes place outside an organized system and whose dynamics is based on sheer physical strength. Therefore, antagonism must rest on a structural matrix reflecting a set of coordinated and orderly relations between members of the social system.» IT

(Teoria delle classi sociali [Theory of social classes], cfr. p. 154, pp. 157-158)

Democracy

«We have seen that deviant power is the cornerstone of social-class action within an institutionalized social structure. Now, how does it work, within an institutionalized society, the dynamics of acceleration or slowdown typical of deviant power? Where a social class endorses it, deviant power works to change the system’s structures and is opposed by the deviant power put in place by an antagonist social class. In a society of this type, the changes in the structures of the system determined by deviant power, and consequently based on the social strength related to it and not on mere physical strength, have always to take place discontinuously within the pre-institutional social space.

Although it is true that deviant power operates within the pre-institutional social space, we should not forget that it always operates not against the system but to accelerate or slow down the system’s dynamics. However, does the discontinuous change of structures, seen as the object of the deviant power put in place by a social class, represent a circumstance intrinsically related to the dynamics of power? A negative answer to this question entails taking the democratic method as a means to institutionalize some processes or aspects of the social-class antagonism.

The importance of democracy for the purposes of social dynamics, thus, lies in the fact that democracy makes it possible to institutionalize some space for deviant power, which means not translating the latter from deviant power into institutional power, but measuring or comparing, within specific deadlines, the social strength of deviant power (aimed at accelerating the system’s dynamics) with the social strength of the opposite deviant power (aimed at maintaining the system). In the final analysis, democracy makes it possible to commensurate or compare the institutional power underlying the system structures with the deviant power aimed at modifying these structures.» IT

(Teoria delle classi sociali [Theory of social classes], pp. 218-219)

Political Representation

«The institution of political representation is a complex phenomenon to which three distinct and autonomous factors contribute. These factors, which could also exist individually within the social organization and which only the historical development of that institution and the various circumstances that determined it kept together, making their identification difficult, are: (1) the direct detection of common interests; (2) the assessment of the representative-body members’ abilities and aptitudes as to the functions they will have to perform, and the choice of these representatives by the electorate; (3) the political qualification of the representative body through the representation, by the latter, of the interests belonging to the social classes making up the community.

Leaving aside the legal qualification of the institution in question and circumscribing the analysis to the sociological perspective, the above considerations lead us to reiterate the concept that the will of people turns into a manifestation of a set of final interests, plain and simple, not into a judgment on the adequacy of instrumental interests (means) to the final interests.

Based on these considerations, it seems to be confirmed that the voter’s activity does not intervene in the process of satisfying the final interests, especially when we consider that the assessment of the representative-body members’ ability and aptitude is a distinguishable phenomenon within the political representation institution, and does not affect its structure. The electorate, therefore, intervenes directly only on a non-fundamental circumstance as to the main interest to satisfy; however, this is a relevant circumstance as it refers to the general need, accessory to any others, to ensure that the means put in place have the highest degree of functionality in relation to the objectives to be achieved.» IT

(Teoria delle classi sociali [Theory of social classes], pp. 211-212)

Negative Freedom and Positive Freedom

«If we reconsider the concepts of “freedom” the classical doctrine on democracy refers to, namely “negative freedom” (freedom from the state or civil-liberties defense) and “positive freedom” (freedom through the state), we can see how the first can be translated into the concept of freedom as a sphere of possible actions of power, whereas the second can be translated into the concept of freedom as an adjustment of common interests to the individuals’ interests. That is to say, the freedom from the state is all the greater, the less the incidence of institutional power on deviant power, i.e., the wider the space for deviant power within the social context. The subject’s sphere of possible deviant-power actions measures the degree of freedom from the state, that is, the degree of interference by the state on individuals’ behaviors in terms of institutional power.

A specific relation between freedom through the state and freedom as an adjustment of common interests to individuals’ interests also exists, such that the greater the positive freedom, the greater the degree of adjustment of common interests to the individuals’ interests.» IT

(Teoria delle classi sociali [Theory of social classes], p. 217)

Legal Norm and Social Ethics

«The law recognizes and turns into legal norms the common sense, or rather those parts of common sense expressing social ethics–that is, positive or negative value judgments on behaviors producing social effects, as they determine acceptance or rejection reactions by other subjects carrying out social interactions.

When social ethics is controlled by an interpersonal sanctioning system, shared in a direct or indirect (mediate) way, it becomes a legal norm. The latter acquires a generalized compulsory characterization only when adopted by the state, i.e., by a legal order that, in principle, cannot be opposed or denied by another legal order which is itself a state; thereby, the norm is institutionalized.

The fundamental property of the legal norm is not institutionalization. It is the legitimation by an organized structure to which all the subjects belonging to a culturally defined social group delegate (with greater or lesser guarantees, or even without guarantees) specific attributions concerning the interpersonal relations involving, in principle, all subjects (otherwise called collective interests). Hence, non-state legal norms may exist. All norms, whether institutionalized (guaranteed by the state) or non-institutionalized (guaranteed by a non-state group), have a social foundation, perforce. Namely, all norms rest on legitimation, which can involve the whole community or part of it (the more or less circumscribed social group supporting the power élite).» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 8-10)

Social Dynamics and Deviation

«Both the evolutionary social dynamics (i.e., historical dynamics) and the structural social dynamics develop within the pre-institutional social space, through continuous increasing or decreasing of the groups of subjects who recognize their interests in either of the two sets of positively involved interests: institutionalized interests and opposed potentially deviant interests.

If (a) the positive involvement occurs between high intensity-level deviant interests […], if (b) the institutionalized interests defined by the power élite do not change according to the social needs emerging from the pre-institutional space, if (c) the deviant interests have a broad (or very broad) base of acceptance, then it might be that potential deviation transcends the boundaries of the pre-institutional and turns into actual deviation, which results in behaviors in open conflict with institutionalized interests. Here, the institutional sanctioning power is no longer effective against deviant interestsIT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 56-57)

Single Deviation and Social Deviation

«Deviation (whether it is a social fact or not) always refers to a larger, usually institutionalized group. However, the characterization of deviation as a social fact (social deviation) does not refer to the implicit presence of the institutionalized organization (which precisely sanctions the deviation). Instead, it refers to the presence, in the institutionalized social context, of more or less large subgroups of subjects (subcultures) who act potentially in favor of deviation and, hence, against institutionalized interests.»

«Deviation (be it individual or group deviation) is a single deviation when it does not generate and does not express any supporting subculture; accordingly, to say that deviation is single means that it does not represent a social fact against the institutionalized order. Deviation (be it individual or group deviation) is a social deviation when it generates or expresses supporting subcultures or both supporting subcultures and contrasting subcultures. When deviation generates or expresses only contrasting subcultures, it is not a social deviation and not even a social fact–although it can determine the emergence of collective movements, which are social facts that would not exist without deviation. Both single deviation and social deviation may be actual or potential.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 31, 143)

The Normative-punitive Paradigm

«In pluralistic systems, norms potentially incompatible with the institutionalized ones can be expressed on a political level because social dynamics is institutionalized and works within the pre-institutional social space.

When a sub-state level culture, potentially deviant, oversteps the boundaries of the pre-institutional social space to give rise to an actual deviation, its level of social acceptance is very high. Here, the social group expressing that subculture is unavailable to sacrifice the positively involved interests which characterize it (and which found its normative system) in favor of the state culture and the corresponding institutionalized norms.

The hegemonic state culture usually undervalues social facts like this; it tends to play down deviation, always considering it as a single deviation, according to a restrictive interpretation in line with the normative-punitive paradigm. It is a mistake arising from explaining social facts in commonsense terms.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 11-12)

Social facts

«Social facts must be defined with reference to the relations between the institutionalized legal order and the social order. That said, it should be noted that legal order and social order may be compatible with each other or not.

In both cases, there may be different degrees of compatibility (or incompatibility), which determine the extent of the cooperation (positive involvement) or conflict (negative involvement) between the two orders. Of course, compatibility and incompatibility have to be defined using concepts (terms) belonging to the language of scientific sociology and not commonsense concepts.»

«The degree of compatibility of one social order with another can be defined as a relation between two social groups (between two cultures), such that the set of interests of the subjects belonging to one group may be, all or part, positively or negatively involved with the set of interests of the subjects belonging to other group.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 30, 141)

The case of the collectivist society

«In a society where all subjects’ interests are conjunctly interrelated, achieving social objectives requires establishing a social organization in which each subject has only one set of roles, functional for the system. Given that the subjects have all their interest in common (none excluded), non-institutionalized roles cannot exist within the system. By definition, every possible social status of each subject must be compatible with any other social status of every other subject; i.e., all possible social statuses of the subjects must correspond to functions aimed at pursuing common objectives. If this does not happen, or to the extent that it does not happen, the organization becomes dysfunctional, and achieving common objectives is hindered or delayed. […]

Therefore, collectivist societies tend to limit the set of social statuses dedicated to the private autonomy of individuals or groups as much as possible. In those societies, all possible social statuses tend to be considered either functional or dysfunctional to the system. The set of indifferent behaviors, which are of no concern to the system, is then restricted to the utmost; within the system, subjects can only perform functions compatible with the common objectives. In short, all possible subjects’ status-roles within the system must be organizational status-roles compatible with each other and functional to the system.

Societies of this type tend to be static, i.e., societies where the subjects’ interests have a high degree of persistence. If it were not so, the system could not stand; as a matter of fact, the organization presupposes the division of labor, that is, specification and definiteness of individual status-roles. In these societies, any change in the subjects’ interests implies changing the entire system, as the organization posits that all status-roles are compatible with each other and complementary.

In collectivistic societies, it is not possible to institutionalize social change into the system: in fact, institutionalizing social change presupposes a disjunct interrelation between interests in the system, that is, a conflict between the institutionalized common and conjunctly interrelated interests and the opposing common and conjunctly interrelated interests of a group of subjects acting to change the social structures.»

«No indirect satisfaction of the potential deviant’s interests is possible within a collectivist system, as there is no pre-institutional social space where the potential deviant can behave to change the system. Should we, therefore, conclude that no social change is possible within that system? The answer is no. The subjects’ interests change even in collectivist systems; this can happen in two ways: (1) all subjects’ interests change instantaneously and in the same sense, so that there is a seamless transition from one structure to another based on different interests; (2) the change occurs through the dynamics of deviation. […]

The second hypothesis refers to collectivist societies in which the consent is based on common ideological interests; here, social change always gives rise to conflictual relations because it is not possible to use intersubjective criteria to establish the truth or falsity of value judgments.»

«The collectivist society in which the conjunct interrelation between interests rests on ideological assumptions is conflictual, too. However, unlike the pluralistic society, which permits a set of (non-institutionalized) status-roles concerning interests that can also be disjunctly interrelated with institutionalized interests (pre-institutional social space), in a collectivist ideological-type society, such a set of disjunctly interrelated interests can exist, but no pre-institutional social space exists that potential deviants can use to change the system.

That means no progress is made, in terms of conflict elimination, by the social structures of an ideological-collectivist type where social dynamics takes place through deviant power, compared to the pluralistic structures where social dynamics occurs within the pre-institutional social space, too.» IT

(Processo di apprendimento e strutture ideologiche [Learning process and ideological structures], pp. 4-6, 7-8, 9-10)

A case of deviant power: the appropriation-expropriation of public functions as a dysfunction of pluralist systems

The transition from the theory of class conflict (and, hence, the hegemony of a class) to the theory of pluralism is perhaps the most significant achievement in political and social issues analyses. The need for pluralism depends on the fact that, at present, no criteria exist which allow for the intersubjective ordering between the interests belonging to the diverse classes or groups competing to manage political power. The ordering criterion codified in the pluralistic method is the only one accepted and institutionalized until now; it rests on the competition between groups proposing political and social innovations on which to attract consent.

Pluralism does not eliminate the conflict between classes or groups; it institutionalizes the conflict (makes conflict compatible with the positive involvement of interests defining the social system) by creating a pre-institutional social space. The coexistence of several competing groups within a social context entails that none of the groups consider their values as hegemonic over the other groups’ values. Instead, each group acknowledges the majority principle as the only legitimate way to establish a limited and temporary preeminence of its values and projects based on the consent obtained under the rules of the game. The rules of pluralism regulate the conflict between classes or groups by institutionalizing three fundamental limits to the management of power: (a) a limit that prevents the minority from directly managing public functions (majority principle); (b) a time limit on the exercise of power (and, hence, on managing public functions) by the majority (alternation of competing groups in political-power positions); (c) a limit on the cumulation of managed public functions, which must be autonomous from each other (autonomy and non-cumulation of institutionalized public functions).

This definition of pluralism summarizes, on a logical-abstraction level, the constants characterizing the type of social system we ordinarily refer to when speaking of democracy in the Western sense. It differs from the definition of pluralism in terms of political supply and demand, formulated within the normal mainstream paradigm (accepted by experts in the political disciplines), which ultimately applies the exchange relation to the political context (in the wake of Schumpeter’s definition).

Current parliamentary democracies do not genuinely adhere to the principle of the mutual autonomy of public functions. This principle’s failure gives rise to the appropriation-expropriation of public functions by political groups, economic groups, social categories, and lobbies. Here, we do not refer solely to the three classic functions of modern constitutionalism; we refer to the wide variety of functions existing in a social system, such as the educational function, the information function (media), the trade-union function, the entrepreneurial function, the function of state intervention in the economy, the function of scientific research. That results in an anomalous extension of the political-function sphere to other spheres, which should instead remain neutral with respect to the political-function sphere. That causes the objectives pursued to be not proper to the “expropriated” functions but to be related to the attempt to strengthen the political function (and hence the groups managing that function) improperly.

The phenomenon of appropriation-expropriation of public functions by political groups, economic groups, social categories, and lobbies creates a degradation in the system. It culminates in the most anomalous and dysfunctional phenomenon for pluralism: the “share-out” (“lottizzazione” in the Italian language), which means accepting the appropriation-expropriation of public functions as a generalized political method. That leads to the breakdown of the majority-minority rule because all groups claim and get to participate in the “share-out,” whatever the institutionalized formal majority may be.

In this case, pluralism tends to turn into a system where groups seek to regulate conflict no longer through the pluralistic method (under the limits this method entails) but through a diverse method of balances based solely on social exchange. The conflict remains, but political parties seek a reason for coexistence not in social and political innovation and competitive planning, anchored to the rules of pluralism, but in the exchange-in particular, in the share-out of functions expropriated from the community so that individual political groups can manage them in a reciprocal and ongoing conditioning-blackmail. The exchange may take place in politics as long as the parties have equivalent resources, but when one party’s resources far exceed those of the other, the exchange turns into pure power. The path of exchange has its outlets: on the one hand, a balance based on cultural stagnation and the lack of innovation and planning; on the other, a breakdown of balance in favor of one party, and thereby the establishment of the hegemony-domination of one group over the others.

(cf. Definiamo il pluralismo [Defining pluralism] and Egemonia o pluralismo? [Hegemony or pluralism?])

Social organization models: the distributive egalitarism and the principle of retaliation

«All social organization models, from tribal society to advanced industrial society, represent as many responses to the basic problem of the distribution of scarce resources among the group members and to the ensuing problem of what position each individual deserves in the group. […] The solution to this problem is not always achieved through the market, not even through redistributive state policies. Instead, it might be achieved by establishing a type of social system based on a reference paradigm (an immediate positive involvement of interests among all subjects) according to which the only socially shared value is the distributive egalitarianism and the only socially allowed (legitimate) sanctioning activity is carried out by individuals or groups who do not hold explicitly defined sanctioning roles (the latter would presuppose a formal organization, also of a state-like type) but non-explicitly defined sanctioning roles (belonging to any subject capable of exercising them in the collective interest).

That explains why, by definition, the groups forming this type of society–from the family to the largest aggregates–always act as autonomous microstructures, potentially in conflict with each other to acquire scarce resources. It also explains why neither winners nor losers emerge from this conflict (negative involvement of interests for acquiring resources and proprietary roles). The feud is the extreme limit of such a conflict, which always occurs in a situation of basically static equilibrium.

The potential conflict deriving from the scarcity of resources is aimed mainly at maintaining the static equilibrium that guarantees egalitarianism, which is a typical trait of this culture. Everyone is in a conflict relation with each other to gain or keep scarce resources, but no one can accumulate with impunity more resources than anyone else. This form of egalitarian individualism is radically different from market individualism. The latter is conflictive on the economic level, but it is not egalitarian, as it recognizes accumulation as a proper outcome of conflict–an accumulation (through innovation, production, exchange) without limits, in principle, because it rests on the technological and organizational dynamics put into the production process.

Ancient societies responded to this same type of conflict, resulting from the scarcity of resources, by building the great civilizations of the past, which in Europe evolved historically into two models: the pluralistic state (based on the market) and the collectivist state (based on the planning). […] What is the cultural (anthropological) basis on which such anomalous and peculiar society rests? It rests on a minimum organizational basis, which regulates and restrains the social conflict so as to protect a specific form of static equilibrium between the proprietary roles admitted in the system.

Any acquisition of resources by individuals or groups is legitimate, as long as it does not alter the egalitarianism principle in the quantities of resources allocated to each one. As a matter of fact, the social organization does not regulate the way of acquiring resources; it merely assesses the quantum of resources, acquired or acquirable, according to egalitarian parameters. Every breach of the static equilibrium relates to a socially shared sanctioning rule, the principle of retaliation, which allows each individual or group to enter into open conflict with other individuals or groups (thus transforming the social conflict from potential into actual).

Therefore, two immediate positive involvements take place: one is about the egalitarianism in the proprietary roles; the other is about the maintenance of the static equilibrium through the principle of retaliation. In the first case, the positive involvement refers to the group’s objectives; in the second case, the positive involvement refers to the instruments for social control, which depend on the internalized model of society (which takes conformity to the norm as static equilibrium, and deviation as temporary nonequilibrium to be eliminated).

A society founded on the most abstract form of the principle of retaliation regulates all relations between subjects in terms of conformity or non-conformity (breach) with the static equilibrium, identified in the tendency to preserve a traditionally defined social context. Any alteration of this context, be it wealth imbalance between subjects or social interaction imbalance, must be recomposed through a penalty, equal and contrary to the violation, to be administered to the subject who infringes the norm.

Although there is a multiplicity of violations (and corresponding sanctions), the general feature is that they all fit into a restorative schema relating to a collective interest, always and in any case, even when the penalty is to the discretion of the subject whose interest is sacrificed by the deviation.»

«Not all societies exhibit forms of social interaction based on egalitarian individualism and forms of social control based on the principle of retaliation.

Indeed, the breach of the substantial equality of opportunities by a family or a group can be accepted within the system when the generality of the subjects amalgamate into a more or less extensive form of social organization, which carries an idea of state as institutionalized inequality in the distribution of social roles and, from an economic viewpoint, an idea of market as institutionalized inequality in the accumulation and use of resources.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 41-45; 49)

Deviation and social facts: subcultures in support of and subcultures in opposition to deviation

«Deviation is a social fact not because of the number of deviants or the typology that characterizes it, but because groups of subjects other than the deviants emerge (or exist) in the social context, expressing subcultures in support of deviants. These groups do not realize actual deviations (like those by deviants) but carry out forms of deviant power (using the public roles they hold in favor of deviants) or, more generally, of potential deviation against the institutionalized context they belong to (which rests on an immediate positive involvement). […]

When the deviation is widespread in the social context, a positive involvement exists between the deviants’ interests and the interests of more or less vast and heterogeneous groups; it expresses behavioral models accepted and shared by those who, while not actively taking part in deviant behavior, recognize its social relevance. It is the opposite of what happens with a single deviation (by an individual or a group).

The forms of deviation that manifest themselves as social facts (social deviations) always entail a conflict between a culture (typically an institutionalized culture) and one or more subcultures existing within that culture. In these cases, the deviation may give rise to strong collective reactions (such as demonstrations and protests […]) and generate subcultures in opposition to deviation, too. Namely, it may give rise to a positive involvement of interests shared by a social group whose common interests are negatively involved with the interests of the deviant group or deviant individual and, hence, positively involved with the interests qualifying the institutionalized culture.

However, there may also be types of deviation that, while not being social facts (social deviations), give rise to cooperative behaviors between a subculture in opposition to deviation and the institutionalized culture, that is, to non-deviant social facts. The inhabitants of a neighborhood or a city who implement forms of self-defense against deviant organizations, drug-related troubles, the mafia, an unknown serial killer, or potentially deviant marginalized groups (or supposed to be potentially deviant, as in cases of racial discrimination) are just as many examples of subcultures in opposition to deviation originating directly from deviant behavior, which support the state organization.

In the case of conflict between the institutionalized culture and a subculture in support of deviation, a negative involvement of interests takes place between the two cultures, whose object is any action of acceptance towards deviant behaviors carried out by individuals or more or less large groups. Accordingly, deviant interests are in conflict with the institutionalized ones but not with the interests of the social subgroup in support of deviation. Therefore, a negative involvement occurs between the interests of the subculture in support of deviation and the institutionalized interests, alongside a positive involvement between this subculture’s interests and the deviant interests expressing behaviors prohibited and punished by the institutionalized culture.

In the case of cooperation between an institutionalized culture and a subculture in opposition to deviation, a positive involvement of interests takes place between the two cultures, whose object is any actions of prevention or repression against deviant behaviors implemented by individuals or more or less large groups. Accordingly, deviant interests are in conflict not only with the institutionalized interests but also with the interests of the social group more directly damaged by the deviation or not adequately protected by the institutionalized culture. Therefore, a positive involvement occurs between the interests of the subculture in opposition to deviation and the institutionalized interests, alongside a negative involvement between these positively involved interests and the deviant interests.

When a subculture in support of deviation and a subculture in opposition to deviation exist, the social context is divided into several groups: the deviant group, the group in support of deviation, the group in opposition to deviation, and the institutionalized group. The social strength of each group will determine situations of (stable or unstable) dynamic equilibrium, with a prevalence of one (or more) group over the others.»

«When a subculture in support of deviation exists (notably, the code of silence, where widespread, is an important social indicator of it), then institutionalized prevention-oriented regulatory action is unlikely to achieve generalized deterrent effects, and it is equally unlikely that the announced punishment will have deterrent effects.

It is necessary to explain deviant behavior from a scientific perspective, i.e., to explicate it, before punishing it. Explicating deviation allows us to identify the psychological and social causes (independent variables) that determine (condition) it. Deviation (be it a single deviation or a social deviation, i.e., a social fact) depends on learning processes (usually educational and socialization processes). […]

From a scientific perspective, it makes no sense to postulate the normative paradigm as the only reference paradigm to be applied across all deviant behaviors, from drugs to bribes, from the mafia to juvenile delinquency, from kidnapping to other socially relevant forms of deviation. […] Understanding the social variables of each deviation is crucial to control deviation not only by penal and punitive measures; i.e., it is crucial to eliminate the real causes of deviation and not to delude ourselves that we can eliminate deviation only by mere formalistic homologations of a punitive type.»

«Only a conflict between the state and single deviations, at most, could be (badly) resolved through the power and criminal law. When the deviation is deeply rooted in the social context, it would be better to ask why it is a deviation only for the state and not even for the endogenous culture.

Also, it is not possible to artificially reduce the social deviation to a single deviation. If it is about social deviation, the latter may manifest itself as a potential deviation, to a greater or lesser extent; thus, hitting a few actual deviants does not change the social context. Such an operation fails to cross the narrow boundaries of a criminal perspective, and deepen the distance between two conflicting cultures, certainly does not reduce it.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 31-35, 36-38, 64)

Public interest and legal order: the case of measures against kidnapping for ransom

«The kidnapping for ransom is a crime that puts the consistency of the principles underlying criminal law to the test. Given that every norm of the penal code must rest on the public interest (i.e., an interest acknowledged and accepted by each subject belonging to a particular state collectivity), what is the public interest sacrificed in the event of a kidnapping?

If the latter did not entail the negotiation “kidnappee against ransom” nulla quaestio, there would be no problem: the kidnapping would be a fully-fledged crime against the person. However, kidnapping entails the kidnapee release under ransom payment; thus, the object of crime shifts from the person to the property. Here, the deprivation of personal liberty to the detriment of the kidnappee is only a means of acquiring an economic advantage on the part of the kidnappers.

If one wants to protect the kidnappee, one cannot protect his assets; if one wants to protect the assets, one cannot protect the kidnappee. It means that, in the case of kidnapping, the public interest in protecting the person (as commonly understood in a restrictive connotation based on individualizing-type ethics, which prioritizes the value of the individual over the group, i.e., over the subject’s economic and social roles) cannot coexist with the public interest in protecting the property (dissociation of the person from the assets).

The question arises whether, in the current social context, ethics of an individualizing type should be recognized as the only fundamental principle of the state legal order to build coherent juridical dogmatics or whether different principles can be recognized.

Suppose the ethical paradigm changes according to an extensive connotation of the concept of person, based on socializing-type ethics prioritizing the value of the group (of the social interaction) over the individual (meaning that the relations between subjects, i.e., the social and economic roles, define the concept of person). In that case, individuals can be identified by their assets (just like assets are identified with individuals), and

every person, as such, holds a role and consequent assets. Here, by promoting and protecting the property, the state promotes and protects the person; by not protecting the property, it damages the person, albeit indirectly (interpenetration of person and property).

Taking the right of property as the institutionalized basis of the social context and taking and the protection of private property as the public interest (with the consequent rules governing it), the property cannot find a limit in the person because property identifies with the person. Here, whenever possible, the property should be primarily protected when the person cannot be protected directly, and the person should be primarily protected when the property cannot be protected directly. In the event of a kidnapping, the person cannot be protected directly, while assets can be.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 75-78)

The Italian legal system provides that «in the event of a kidnapping, the state can only protect the person in accordance with a public interest of a financial nature, whereas the proponents of the repeal of the law no. 82/91 [on freezing the assets of the kidnappee] want to protect the person by subordinating the assets as if those were not the kidnapping object.

If the kidnapping were against the person, it would be an end in itself and would not require any ransom payment as a counterpart. Here, the kidnappers would detain the kidnappee depriving it of its freedom, demanding nothing as compensation for the release, which should take place anyhow, sooner or later.

Where the kidnappers subordinate the release to the ransom payment, the object of the deviation is not the kidnappee but the ransom; the kidnappee is only a means to get the ransom. From this perspective, how could the state not take the ransom into consideration?

Failure to protect assets and the consideration of kidnapping as a crime against the person would entail a sort of institutionalization of the ransom that is not explicit in the state law but implicit in the legal system. […]

Furthermore, the implicit institutionalization of such a negotiation would sanction the loss of the public interest in the state’s intervention while the deviant operational sequences are taking place. As a matter of fact, it would not be possible to satisfy the public interest in intervening while the kidnapping is going on, not to disturb the negotiation; and the latter would be facilitated by the lack of prevention by the state. Here the risk would be punishing a crime (kidnapping), without preventing (through deterrence) the objective (extortion, that is, ransom) for which the crime was perpetrated from being achieved.»

«Within each social group (be it legitimized as a state group or not), the collective interest (expressed as an immediate positive involvement) must be considered from a perspective that, in principle, goes beyond individuals. The latter must be available to sacrifice any of their interests when it is instrumental in protecting the collective interest (which is a public interest, in the case of a state group).»

«An individual amalgamated into a group qualified by an immediate positive involvement concerning an interest in freezing assets would take for granted that the ransom does not have to be paid, and that the kidnapping can be successful for the kidnappee (and prevent any future kidnappings) only if one does not give in to blackmail (if no one gives in) and pay no ransom.» IT

(Il sequestro come fatto sociale [The kidnapping as a social fact], pp. 80-81, 84, 87)

Behavior science and a non-ideological society

«A final consideration on a fundamental problem emerging from modern scientific rationality: the possibility of establishing a non-ideological society based on social science.

In a social context in which the institutionalized relations were based on scientific foundations, there would be no conflict but rather a conjunct interrelation between all interests of all subjects, and all these interests would be comparable with an experimentally verifiable and intersubjective scientific discourse. The hypothesis of the elimination of conflict presupposes a society of this type. […]. Conflict and competition occur in societies where the subjects’ interests have an ideological basis, whether they are societies structured according to pluralistic or collectivist schemata. In those societies, the social dynamics develops through conflict, and conflict arises from the presence of interests based on value judgments, which are subjective by definition.

Therefore, a radical change in current social structures can only occur if institutionalized ideological interests turn into interests comparable with the context of social science. In addition, this is the only operational sense we can make of behavior science. Operationalizing the laws of behavior requires continuous comparison (in terms of compatibility) between the subjects’ interests and the results of scientific research until the alignment of all the subjects’ interests and the laws of behavioral science is achieved.» IT

(Prefazione a “B.F. Skinner, La scienza del comportamento ovvero il Behaviorismo” [Preface to the Italian translation of B. F. Skinner “About behaviorism”], p. XVI)

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