nep-pke New Economics Papers
on Post Keynesian Economics
Issue of 2017‒07‒30
six papers chosen by
Karl Petrick
Western New England University

  1. Impact of Psychological Needs on Luxury Consumption By Ning Mao; Michael McAleer; Shuyu Bai
  2. Understanding The Work of Aesthetics in Modern Life By Cameron McCarthy
  4. Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change By Paola Giuliano; Nathan Nunn
  5. Towards a Political Theory of the Firm By Zingales, Luigi
  6. Plato in Singapore: A Case for Globalizing Ethics Courses By Debra Bourdeau

  1. By: Ning Mao (China-ASEAN International College and Dhurakij Pundit University, Thailand); Michael McAleer (National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan; University of Sydney Business School; Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain and Yokohama National University, Japan); Shuyu Bai (Limian Material Technology Corporation, China)
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of psychological needs on luxury consumption. Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) invented the term “conspicuous consumption” to describe luxury goods and services, in which Veblen indicated the purpose of luxury consumption was to display wealth and social status. This paper integrates the following two papers: (1) Han and Zhou (2002), who proposed an integrative model, and argued that three variables, namely Country-of-Origin, Brand Name, and Price, were major predictors for overall product evaluation and purchase intentions; and (2) Han, Nunes and Dreze (2010), who proposed a taxonomy called The Luxury 4Ps, to explain the inductive and deductive psychological needs of luxury consumption.
    Keywords: Psychological needs; Luxury consumption; Consumer behavior
    JEL: N35 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2017–07–18
  2. By: Cameron McCarthy (University of Illinois)
    Abstract: NeoMarxists scholars of education writing on urban life have tended to place aesthetics on the boundaries of critical practices, treating aesthetics as a surplus set of practices that could only be made fully usefully relevant when added on to a more concentrated attention to economy and politics. The main claim I want to make in this presentation is that aesthetic practices now underwrite the fibre of everyday modern life. As Arjun Appadurai usefully argues in Modernity at Large and History as Cultural Fact aesthetics are no longer to be simply understood as the practices of the artist, a maverick citizen creating images about the past, present and the future of human existence. But aesthetics are linked to the work of imagination of ordinary people and connected even more earnestly to the work of capitalism and its reorganization on a global scale. Contrary to the neoMarxist tradition, aesthetic practices are at the epicenter of lived experience and the commodified and institutional practices of modern societies. These practices, as CLR James allerted us to in American Civilization, constitute a great window on contemporary life revealing central contradictions, tensions and discontinuities. This, after all, was the burden of the Latin American and Caribbean Writers Forum of Intellectual and Cultural workers (George Lamming, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and others) who had publicly opposed the Reagan government invasion of Grenada in 1983. They insisted, as did Arnaldo Roche-Rabel, that aesthetics were imbricated in economy and politics?that artistic militancy is critical to production of democracy. The work of aesthetics is crucial to any formula for democratic transformation. In this presentation, I would like to call attention to the following issues. First, the entanglement of the diffusion of modernization to the third world in aesthetics. Second, I want to point as well to the deepening role of aesthetics in the organization capitalism in the new millenium in which we live. Third, I will discuss briefly the crisis of language that the aestheticization of everyday life has imposed/precipitated in neoMarxist efforts to grasp the central dynamics of comtemporary society. The latter has led to a depreciation of the value and insightfulness of neoMarxist analysis in our time?old metaphors associated with the class, economy, state (?production,? ?reproduction,? ?resistance,? ?the labor/capital? contradiction) are all worn down by the transformations of the past decades in which the saturation of economic and political practices in aesthetic mediations has proceeded full scale.
    Keywords: Cultural Work, Aesthetics, Late-Modern Life, NeoMarxist Theories
    JEL: Z11
    Date: 2017–05
  3. By: Elsa Mentz (North-West University); Josef De Beer (North-West University)
    Abstract: In this paper the authors look at Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a lens to study education from, not only a socio-cultural perspective, but also from a socio-economic perspective. CHAT has its origin in the work of Lev Vygotsky. It takes as a starting point that human practice is mediated by tools or signs. The unit of analysis is an activity system and, in this paper, several activity systems are used as examples to illustrate the use of CHAT. The examples used are not based on specific empirical data, but on selected literature, since the focus of this paper is to highlight the affordances and versatility of CHAT as a research lens. Rogoff stated that three planes, namely the personal, the interpersonal, and the institutional or community plane might be identified in a socio-cultural analysis using CHAT. Conventionally CHAT is used as a research lens on the personal plane, where the subject is an individual, for example, a science teacher, and the object is this teacher?s professional development. Secondly, CHAT can also be used on an interpersonal plane, looking at the interaction between various stakeholders. In this article the authors look at the changing nature of the interaction between university lecturers (facilitators) and tertiary students as an example of the use of CHAT on the interpersonal level. It is particularly on this interpersonal plane that this paper highlights the complexity of the ?object? in an activity system, by revealing the ?contradiction of control?. Rogoff identifies a third way of using CHAT, namely where the subject is a system or a theory. In this paper, we conclude with two examples of how CHAT can be used on this more systematic-theoretical plane, with the subject being South African and Finnish education respectively. This is an approach seldom used in activity theory publications. By learning from the international ?gold standard? in education (Finland) South Africa might succeed in improving its education, which can, in turn, catapult economic growth. We conclude this paper by looking at the #FeesMustFall student campaign in South Africa, where we juxtapose university management?s perceptions and expectations, with that of student bodies. The authors argue that the holistic view that CHAT provides on tensions within activity systems is essential in educational research in a complex 21st Century. Educational issues such as the #FeesMustFall is not simply a South African issue of concern, but a contemporary issue in a post-colonial world.
    Keywords: Cultural-Historical Activity Theory; South African education; science education; self-directed learning; transformation; South African students? #FeesMustFall campaign.
    JEL: I25 I23
    Date: 2017–05
  4. By: Paola Giuliano; Nathan Nunn
    Abstract: When does culture persist and when does it change? We examine a determinant that has been put forth in the anthropology literature: the variability of the environment from one generation to the next. A prediction, which emerges from a class of existing models from evolutionary anthropology, is that following the customs of the previous generation is relatively more beneficial in stable environments where the culture that has evolved up to the previous generation is more likely to be relevant for the subsequent generation. We test this hypothesis by measuring the variability of average temperature across 20-year generations from 500–1900. Looking across countries, ethnic groups, and the descendants of immigrants, we find that populations with ancestors who lived in environments with more stability from one generation to the next place a greater importance in maintaining tradition today. These populations also exhibit more persistence in their traditions over time.
    JEL: N10 Q54 Z1
    Date: 2017–07
  5. By: Zingales, Luigi
    Abstract: Neoclassical theory assumes that firms have no power of fiat any different from ordinary market contracting, thus a fortiori no power to influence the rules of the game. In the real world, firms have such power. I argue that the more firms have market power, the more they have both the ability and the need to gain political power. Thus, market concentration can easily lead to a “Medici vicious circle, where money is used to get political power and political power is used to make money.
    Keywords: Concentration; Lobbying; Theory of the firm
    JEL: D21 G30 L20
    Date: 2017–07
  6. By: Debra Bourdeau (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University--Worldwide)
    Abstract: This paper discusses my experience as an American instructor teaching a Values and Ethics course in Singapore. This course is required of all students in our university, which is a distributed-campus model with over 120 teaching sites, including our Asia campus. Having developed this course for online delivery for all of our instructors, I was aware of the Western focus of its textbook and its worldview. Similarly, the course itself is built upon Western teaching practices. Both realities produced a fascinating experience when I taught the course to approximately 60 undergraduate Singaporean students in a condensed nine-week format in 2015. The almost-fully Western view, based heavily on Judeo-Christian values and the philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, Descartes and Kant, proved to be a myopic way to approach the course. Blending Eastern concepts such as collectivism with Western ideals such as individualism, and the Western focus on reason with Buddhist understandings of cause/effect relationships, added depth to the student experience in the course and provided me with new levels of insight as an instructor. Additionally, the course demands significant student participation and collaboration, with the instructor often becoming more of a facilitator in the course. Singaporean students commented that this was a new way of learning for them, removing the layers of authority between student and teacher and increasing their confidence in their ability to speak articulately on course concepts. Finally, the class demands the application of various ethical frameworks to current issues, compelling students to consider contemporary world problems through the lens of formal philosophical thought. Their topics of choice provided an intriguing contrast to American students? selections for that same set of assignments. Ultimately, increasing globalization demands an internationalized curriculum that is not overly dependent on the traditions of any one specific culture. My experience in this course provides a case study of ?accidental? internationalization that could, ideally, lead to some permanent changes in how such courses can be taught to students worldwide.
    Keywords: teaching, humanities, values and ethics
    Date: 2017–07

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