Cameron, Samuel. The Economics of Hate.
Samuel Cameron, an economics professor at the University of Bradford, explores the subject of hate, not usually considered a province of microeconomics, from an economic perspective. While the author does not claim that economics can provide "an all-embracing universal theory of hate" (p. 5), he believes that studying hate from an economic point of view could provide the bedrock for an interdisciplinary approach. His pioneering effort applies economics to the subject of hate through topics as diverse as road rage, war, terrorism, witchcraft, marriage and divorce, and bullying and harassment. The principal objective of the book is to analyze economic behavior in such cases and thereby contribute to an explanation of hate.
Cameron begins by defining hate/hatred as "the willingness to incur costs to harm others and the expression of violent dislike towards others" (p. 6). He characterizes hatred as follows: First, it is the most extreme emotion. This is based on the notion that hatred is founded on its virulent expression in the form of murder, mutilation, and other forms of devastation of lives. Second, hatred is more likely to provoke extreme social disapproval than expression of other emotions. However, where hatred is shared within a group towards a common goal, it can elicit strong approval. Third, displays of hatred exhibit more irrationality than displays of other emotions (e.g., the jealous lover who kills someone involved with his/her love partner). Lastly, once formed, hatred is not easily diffused or deflected into 'safety valve' outlets. Here, the author explores the hate-anger connection. The distinction between hatred and anger is that while expression of anger unaccompanied by force or credible threat of force might be considered temporary, hatred implies emotions that are sustained (pp. 1-3).
In studying the subject of hate from an economic perspective, Cameron argues that hatred is open to rational choice analysis. For example, the fear of sanctions associated with hate can be explained in terms of rational behavior. Anti-hate legislation, the author observes, generates direct costs to would-be haters, such as fines, prison sentences or curfews, as well as indirect costs, such as lost career opportunities and bad reputation. Collectively, society condemns expressions of hatred due to the cost potential of the threats posed, some of which could be economic, social order- or trade-related.
Cameron discusses applied hate in the material world at the individual level. He argues that hate does not exist in a vacuum in the sense that its expression requires some context, such as a romantic relationship (partner abuse); school (bullying); the workplace (manifested in the form of ethnic/racial prejudice, gender bias or symbolism of hierarchy and subordination); a sports event; road rage; property infringement (hatred towards someone who steals tangible property or intellectual property from you); moral infringement (abortion); hate developed in response to unjust or inequitable treatment by an abusive individual; or hate stemming from frustration and directed toward those who block or are perceived to stand in the way of one's desires or goals. Those who hate create strategies to evade negative sanctions which may be imposed by society because of their behavior. These strategies include carrying out the abuse in a way that cannot be detected, engaging the complicity of the victim so that they do not complain, or even blaming the victim.
Cameron also explores what he describes as "Hate in the air: the economics of psychic possession," which covers magic/magick, sorcery, wizardry, shamanism, occultism, Satanism, demonology, and paganism (p. 100). Types of psychic power and their potential use for hatred include the following abilities: to see into the future; to move objects; to influence animals to attack people or cause them to have an accident; to divine information about the past, as well as determine information from holding an object as a proxy substitute form of engagement with objects of psychic resonance; to conjure up superhuman spirits or forces; to know what is going on somewhere other than where one presently is without use of any technology; to make things invisible; to appear to be somewhere else or in two places simultaneously; and, to influence people's minds to act against their will or cause hallucinations (pp. 102-04). These various forms of psychic projection, real or imagined, provide not only the means of inflicting criminal acts without any risk of detection, but also exact psychic costs, in terms of pain and anguish on the intended targets. Specifically, witchcraft persecution or "witch-hunts" in Europe and North America's past had substantial peaks of social prominence in Western economies. Generally, witch-hunts are manifestations of some form of misogyny; differential ethnic/ national cultures of tolerance; scapegoating of individuals at a time of economic, religious, and political crisis; or just a moral panic deployed as an excuse to wield authority over the general populace.
Cameron also studies group hate in terms of clubs/hate group organizations, gangs, and riots and demonstrations. He crowns their leading coordinators as hate entrepreneurs (e.g., Adolf Hitler). In the context of economic models, individual haters are both consumers and producers of hate. Their club or organization has objectives it may seek to maximize on behalf of its members. Lastly, the author considers the role of hate intervention (e.g., peace-building, conflict resolution, and anti-hate legislation) as a defense against the tide of hate supply. He discusses the likely form and scope of future effects of hate on public policy, suggesting policy considerations in the area of murder and torture, physical intimidation and violence, sexual offenses, and derogatory acts under the pretext of humor. But he notes that "the need for validity of evidence imposes costs on the agencies, as evidence has to be able to stand up to scrutiny" (p.160). Cameron concludes that setting up new legislation to be free from offense of hate or increased punishment for offenders will not necessarily dampen local and global hate crime, but doing nothing is not an option.
Okori Uneke, PhD
Associate Professor of Behavioral Science
Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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|Publication:||International Social Science Review|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2010|
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