From Individual Responsibility to 'Shared' Social Responsibilities: Concepts for a New Paradigm
EconomEtica Working Paper No. 26
46 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011 Last revised: 18 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 1, 2011
Shared social responsibility will shortly become a new basic concept for understanding social cohesion in Europe and also for the modeling of governance structures and management of social cohesion policies involving the public sector, the private profit and non profit sectors , and also the citizens’ participation in deliberating and implementing such policies. It will also include corporate social responsibility as a special case. In this paper the need for sharing social responsibility is discussed with reference to the failed neo-classical and neo-liberal separation between social responsibilities allocated to the State and the minimal individual responsibility of efficient recourses allocation assigned to private agents operating throughout the market, consistently with their self-interested incentives. Then foundation of sharing social responsibility is discussed by considering the challenges of the new paradigm with respect to satisfaction of conditions required for the basic definition of responsibility. Moreover typical paradoxes of collective action like as the Prisoners’ Dilemma and the Free Rider problem are considered, as far as they can give some basis to disclamations of shared responsibilities. Here a solution based on Bacharach's “We thinking" and "team reasoning" is suggested, but also it is raised the question of how hardly it can work in a context of multi-stakeholder interaction, with huge differences among the stakeholders' interest and claims: need based claims, merit based claims and externality based claims (i.e. claims of redress for negative externalities). And also huge unbalances of power and influence, differentiating strong from weak stakeholders.
Asking the question of how an agreement can be reached on an ordering of the stakeholders’ different claims – respectful of the most urgent claims staked by the worst-off -, a social contract model is outlined. A two steps constitutional contract provides in fact the proper ordering of the stakeholders’ different claims. At a basic constitutional level, the social contract grants priority to the worst-off in terms of distribution of primary goods and capabilities proportional to relative needs, which also can be reached through a rational bargaining solution (agreement) under appropriate assumptions. Then both merit claims and externalities are accounted for in the stage of post-constitutional agreements. Each stakeholder stakes a claim in terms of merit (equivalent to his/her contribution to the joint production of social wealth through firms and organisations), which is conditioned on his/her endowment of basic rights which have to be proportional to relative needs and neutralised from the effects of talents. Hence what any stakeholder may claim to deserve corresponds to what s/he needs under the additional condition of carrying out an active effort employing endowments of primary goods and capabilities proportional to her/his needs. Moreover, no one may claim to deserve his/her market remuneration in case it is obtained through participation to productive enterprises if these activities also entail negative externalities on commons and public goods maintenance, which change the basic allocation of these goods with respect to relative needs.
Keywords: Social Cohesion, Responsibility, We Thinking, Justice, Need vs. Merit
JEL Classification: C79, D62, D63, D64, D72, H12, I31, L33, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation