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Authenticity and self-interest

Some thoughts after reading this: Quiggin, J. & Potts, J., 2008. Economics of non-market innovation and digital literacy. Media International Australia, (128), 144-50.

The article is a debate about the significance of the non-market productive interactions - with Open Source as the main example.

Quiggin argues that the non-monetary sector will begin to direct the monetary sector, reversing previous pattern of monetisation of non-commercial practices etc. Potts argues that the sectors always interact, and non-market innovations lead into the market.

Quiggin sees a shift back to household production: "innovation is coming from the collective contributions of individuals and households driven by a range of non-economic motives." (146); he also pronounces on forms of rationality - "It is difficult to be both a profit maximiser and a charity. They are indeed competing versions of rationality." (147)

Later Potts kicks in with: "altruistic or otherwise community-minded behaviours are entirely consistent with individual rationality once we account for the existence of the implicit other (mostly future) markets in which the agent perceives themselves to be potentially engaged." (147)

--> Are they arguing about whether or not it's rational to do something altruistically? I'm not sure... but it's a different argument to the one about whether or not the monetary and non-monetary markets are linked. Potts argument ultimately depends on speculating about the motives of the actors, and implying that - whatever they say - the actors are rational and self-interested.

Potts later makes a good point: "it is not the case that there is a domain of markets and market activity on one side, and a domain of non-market activity on the other, but rather an ever-shifting process where behaviours in markets fnd non-market contexts, and this in turn creates new market contexts, and so on." (149)

--> But this does not relate directly to the intentions or motivations of the actor. Motivation is often relative to the beholder, and frequently a post-hoc rationalisation. The assumption of intrinsic self-directed and self-aware action is fundamental to the construction of the authentic self. In contrast to the modernist self-interested rational individual, this authentic self can be marked out symbolically by her ability to deny self-interestedness; the lack of agency implicit in the rational self-interested argument is in opposition to the post-modern paradoxical search for authenticity.
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