In Reply to: Re: Neoclassical Theory posted by Carole on October 16, 2001 at 06:09:24:
I sympathize with your decision to be the devil's advocate. Nice initiative. However, I think that your reason is wrong. Why would generation after generation of working-class agree to being exploited? Why would they accept being under-paid and their efforts under-evaluated? I am not determining happiness in terms of materialism, but in terms of all things that we in Western society value, what we see as success and comfort. These things include (and this list is not all-inclusive) material assets, health, functional relationships, and stimulating or self-fulfilling jobs.
In order to determine the amount of freedom we have to choose our situation, we have to look at all these variables and see how and why they interact.
It can be as simple as not getting proper nutrition. Let's say for example that we have a parent with far too little time(having to work two jobs is not uncommon among people who are forced to take minimum-wage jobs) or knowledge to pay attention to his child's eating pattern. If the child is unhealthy, his schoolwork will suffer, and so he won't succeed and be able to change circumstances. The same goes with our self-perception, and our confidence. There are exceptions - that's true - but exceptions do not justify that we keep a status quo.
: Cara, I think you can explain your success just as easily with marxian theory. I think the difference is that in marxian theory there is the idea of exploitation and in the neoclassical theory there is no exploitation. In the marxian theory if your mother worked for a fast food place then it is assumed that she is being cheated because the fast food place is capitalist. I think if she was working for herself then it is assumed that she is not being cheated. But in the neoclassical theory it doesn't matter where she works. She is never cheated. In the marxian theory people can work really hard and not succeed because they are being cheated. Other people can be lazy bums and succeed because they live off other people's labor, like Bill Gates. Does that make sense?
: : In the interest of keeping our minds open and learning through controversy, I'm going to play a little devil's advocate here. While I believe that in many cases, some people who are poor don't have a choice and are not happy, I don't completely agree with our consensus around these issues.
: : First: We're defining happiness in terms of materialism. I think that to some degree, people have the power to make their own happiness. If you have a positive outlook and spend your life with those who you love, how can you not be happy. In other words, i should hope that if i get down on my luck one day, and don't have a lot of money, that i can still find a way to be happy.
: : Second: I should also hope that we aren't all locked into our circumstances and socialisation. My mother, for example, grew up in a very poor single-parent household with five children. she did not graduate from high school. while raising my sister and i as a single parent herself, she has worked extremely hard to work her way up, keep our family afloat, and increase her salary. i don't want to devalue the notion of hard work and sacrifice as it fits into neoclassical theory in this instance, because without it, i certainly wouldn't be studying at this school right now.
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