In the article entitled “Reversing the Culture of Greed,” Jung-kyu Kim gives us the opportunity to explore current America’s societal breakdown, which we attempt to view through the eyes of George Herbert Mead and James S. Coleman. We will focus on James S. Coleman’s Rational Choice Theory and its ramifications on present-day society and explore George Herbert Mead’s theory of Symbolic Interactionism as a solution to these ramifications. Rational Choice Theory is well represented within the article; but rather than focusing on the literal component of Symbolic Interactionism therein, we will focus on its absence and necessity in preserving the cohesion of modern society.
“Reversing the Culture of Greed” begins by describing the current economic division of wealth in America and the burden that this state of affairs places on middle class America. While the rich focus on becoming richer, the commoners are merely trying to make ends meet. Due to the nature of politics, today’s political agenda is so preoccupied with special interest groups and reelection that government fails to take into account the need to reduce taxes in order to decrease this gap in income. Businesses are uninterested in individuals, their only interest being the obsession of profit maximization; seemingly oblivious to all other human, social and environmental considerations. (Kim, 2013). This philosophy, “in its short-sighted greed, precipitated the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” (Kim, 2013).
The article offers a theory as to how the current state of affairs came into being, citing that “the main culprit was the widely held belief that pursuit of self-interest is the "rational" thing to do.” (Kim, 2013). He attributes the decline in social cohesion to the “unquestioning belief in rational self-interest.” (Kim, 2013).
Kim goes on to offer a possible solution to the prevailing American greed paradigm: doing away with the profit motive and beginning to regard each other as human beings as opposed to “money making tools.” (Kim, 2013). “For this to happen, though, we must recognize that selfishness (even of the enlightened sort) is ultimately a poor basis for morality and introduce a new philosophy based on the values of compassion, aesthetic sensibility and humaneness instead.” (Kim, 2013). After all, “a society which prizes profit-making above all else is destined to decay sooner or later.” (Kim, 2013).
The article focuses on selfishness and greed as being the root of all evil concerning the current economic crisis. This can be explained using Rational Choice Theory. Coleman’s Rational Choice Theory, as opposed to Marx’s group (macro) Conflict Theory, attempts to focus on the individual rather than society as a group and his wanting of more rather than less of a good. It is cold and calculating. “Action is undertaken to achieve goals to achieve objectives consistent with actors’ preference hierarchy.” (Ritzer, 2013). In other words: actors act only...