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In the Interest of OthersOrganizations and Social Activism$
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John S. Ahlquist and Margaret Levi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158563

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158563.001.0001

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Beyond Economism

Beyond Economism

(p.1) Chapter 1 Beyond Economism
In the Interest of Others

John S. Ahlquist

Margaret Levi

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the variation in organizational norms, governance arrangements, and social networks that produce systematic differences in aggregate behavior. Left-wing longshore union members give up time and money to fight on behalf of social justice causes from which they can expect no material return. Parishioners of churches throughout the United States risk jail to shelter asylum seekers. Altruism is common enough, and so are volunteering, political commitment, and unselfish service to others. The chapter asks why and how do some organizations produce membership willingness to self-sacrifice on behalf of a wide range of political and social justice issues. In some instances, the answer may be simple: self-selection. The more interesting cases are those in which individuals join for one reason but come to pursue goals they may not have considered previously.

Keywords:   organizational norms, governance arrangements, social networks, aggregate behavior, social justice, altruism, volunteering, self-selection

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