We have now discussed the components of economic production: Land, Labor, Capital, and the Entrepreneur, and also the components of our cultural structure: Traditions, Institutions, Family, and the Individual. Our premise is that Transformation takes place at the intersection of Culture and Economics. Wherever the components of Culture and the components of Economics cross in the intersection of real life, you can expect change.
I’m going to resort to the chalk board and see if we can walk through some common examples in order to see just how such a thing works. The components of Economics will be positioned along the left side of our matrix and the components of Culture will follow the bottom line. The dynamics of the situational example will determine the point of intersection and which of the components will be involved in the confrontation that sets up the incidence of transformation:
- We talked earlier about the incredible global transformation that took place based on the intuition and action of Alexander the Great after being influenced by the cultural and economic insights of his personal teacher, Aristotle. He conquered the known world.
- Two hundred seventy- one years later, Julius Caesar laid claim to Alexander’s dream and once again, transformed the global system at the intersection of culture and economics.
- King James of England, in 1606, granted rights to a business investment company to establish the first American colony in an area designated as Virginia. But the second contract was made with another organization to establish a colony in America. That contract was born out of conflict and the desire for change and freedom. The Pilgrims were a group of settlers who had previously left England to seek relief and freedom in Holland. Disappointed there, they found investors willing to underwrite the expenses of a contract to colonize in America. On September 16, 1620, the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower and landed sixty-five days later. At the intersection of culture and economics, the Pilgrims employed their powerful traditions and even religious institutions and families. They set into motion transformation in areas of land use, labor, and capital and the individuals eventually realized the fruits of a new world
- Eventually the American Revolutionary War between young America and England would be fought at the intersection of culture and economics. Institutions, traditions, families and individuals were pitted against each other on matters of land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurial enterprises.
- Within recent years, China’s citizens have experienced immeasurable transformation due to national laws implemented in 1979 limiting the family’s size to one child per couple. I personally visited many orphanages throughout China and have been acquainted with the affects of the policy that was fully centered at the intersection of culture and economics. The policies were initiated to alleviate social, economic and environmental problems in China, but have set into motion firestorms of consequences.
- A bit closer to home . . . we commonly experience the intersection phenomenon in controversial land use situations. Traditions endeavor to dictate how a certain piece of property will be used regardless of personal or institutional ownership rights. Or, a municipality may want to appropriate or condemn a property and build a big box store or commercial strip in order to generate higher tax revenues. The battle is waged at the intersection of culture and economics.
- Divorce settlements, civil suits, and estate squabbles so very frequently find the principles yelling at each other in the middle of the intersection of culture and economics.
- Individual families, also, find themselves hammering out philosophical differences at the intersection when it comes to making decisions regarding how they will earn and spend their resources.
- Don’t be surprised when it dawns on you that this same matrix works even for such issues as dealing with the disciplining of the children, (Land = Resources, Labor = Activities, Capital = Rights and Rewards, Entrepreneur = Creativity and Independence). We can count on major transformation taking place at the intersection of culture and economics even when applied to the components involved in domestic situations.
We live in a world of transformation. It is good for us to concern ourselves with how we can more efficiently allocate and manage our resources and abilities. It is also to our benefit to discover and understand how various aspects of human cultures interact with economic events, behaviors, and conditions. Economic philosophies and systems have the power to affect and shape our culture, as well as our culture having influence on our political systems, inherited traditions, religious beliefs and the formation of our institutions. It is imperative to lay aside the notion that economic has only to do with money. It is also imperative to more fully comprehend the scope and sequence of culture.
As we move into a more complete understanding of the eight components listed herein, and see how they work together under a larger umbrella of cultural economics, our identification of problems and even our tasks of conflict resolution will be more easily accomplished.
Next Week: Our Market Basket
(Research Ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)
© Dr. James W. Jackson
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