Theme VII. Symbolic Dimension of the Economy

"The economic - economy" "The symbolic economy"

Over time, there was a change of the meaning and scope of being of what we call today the "economy." Like other concepts that we have created, and that of the "economy" is "an invention" which must constantly prove its legitimacy. It seems that first who used the term "economy" was Antoine de Montchrestien de Vasteville (1570-1631) who published his work Traité d'économie politique (16 1 5).[1] The term was appropriated not by itself "if the word 'politique' would not be here so in its place."[2] One of the earliest works containing "economic" was L'altinoto par fare regione e concordanza d'oro e d'argento published in 1582 by Gasparo Scaruffi (1519-1584), without using the term "economy."

Aristotle (384-322) used the term "oikos" in a very limited sense. "The word of "economy" ("economics") comes from the Greek <<oikos>> , "household," but the ancient world do not knew the economy, an independent market through price adjustment as is the situation now, not thinking in terms of "economic" which refers to the idea of calculation. The production served the household and was adapted to the needs."[3] If we try to use the concept (in its direct meaning) for a series of activities related to the creation of "products," we will make a big mistake. Studies show that, from the "first" moments of history, man has acted in virtue of mentality, symbols, beliefs that gave real meaning of his work.

"A symbol is a sign* which denotes something more than it shows in itself, indicating an association with a certain idea, conscious or unconscious, in view of its load with a significance and full understanding."[4] The verbal symbols, includes myths, legends, names, language codes, games. The symbols in the form of actions (events) refer to ceremonies, meetings, movements of head, shaking hands etc. The whole social life represents forms of human activity, based on goals, concepts, interests, passions, feelings, theories (sometimes misunderstood even by their carriers). Man is a being endowed with freedom of decision. The Bible depicts the man's real profile endowed with: 1) freedom of decision; 2) moral discernment between what is good and bad; 3) responsibility for its decisions taken in conditions of discernment, 4) faith (as a basis of the significance of the values acquired). Freedom does not mean the absence of coercion. Rather, the man acts freely in a space of possible actions generated by a complex of constraints.

The constraints are of different types: 1) materials (laws and natural processes), 2) regulations (standards set by society and, especially, the "ten commandments") 3) limit (the limited resources constraints require human action) and 4) cooperation (since Romania joined the EU, all economic activity must comply with common EU decisions).

In this space of possible action there take place the creation and symbolic practice. To ignore (omit) the man and his creativity is to distort the understanding of society. "It is, indeed, the economic world as the dominant discourse like it, a pure and perfect order which runs implacable the logic of its predictable economy consequences and which, promptly, repress all shortcomings through several mechanisms that he applies? (...). This tutelary theory is a mathematical fiction based, from the beginning on a formidable abstraction (which is not reduced, as want to believe the economists, the defenders of the right of abstraction, - an inevitable constituent element of any scientific project - in creation of an object with a deliberately selective coverage of the real) who, on behalf of a concept as narrow as it is, so strictly on the rationality, identified with individual rationality, consists in putting in brackets the economic and social conditions, the provisions of rational (... ) and economic and social structures which are subject to their application or, more precisely, the production and reproduction of these provisions and these structures."[5]

The theoretical analysis of the economic life of society as an "aspect" of human activity involves reconsideration of what should be "economy." It is true, if we analyze the economy in terms of synchronic (at one point), then we can say that it has some delimited existence. But if we examine the creation of the economy, its evolution, we have to admit that it was "extended" permanently. From the "economy" as a small group activity[6] or city (Greek) to national economies and now globalized, we are witnessing a process of increasing the scope of the economy. More complex is the change in the economy through "internalization" of new and new dimensions of social life, through the human capacity to use new "resources" in order to size the means to produce the necessary of life. Science, for example, have stopped working "on" the economy as an external factor, it becomes a central resource of the economy and turn "inside" the economy.

Moral becomes a resource of economic life (remaining, of course, a general characteristic of societal life). Psychological processes have been much emphasized as intervening in economic life. J. M. Keynes (1883-1946) spoke of three fundamental psychological "laws" involved in the markets dynamics: consumer' propensity law, firms' propensity for efficiency law; fluids propensity values law."[7] Weber has clearly shown the involvement of religion in the emergence of western capitalism, etc. And as the economic life of society becomes more complex (the interrelations content or various "aspects" of the behavior), symbolic elements become more present and diverse. To study the needs, we treat all aspects of symbolic and "non-symbolic" of the economy, without forgetting that they relate only to methodological considerations.

  • [1] Speran(ia Eugeniu (1944), Introduction to Sociology. Vol. 1, Bucharest: Casa Scoalelor, 42.
  • [2] Ibid., 42. Ibid., 43.
  • [3] Bell, Daniel (1973), The Coming of Post Industrial Society, a Venture in Social Forecasting. Basic Books Inc.. Pub., 22.
  • [4] Morgan, G., P. J. Frost, and L. R. Pandy (1983), Organizational Symbolism. See Drummond, Helga (2000), Introduction to Organizational Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, 156) (*-marks may be of verbal, material, operated, etc.).
  • [5] Bourdieu, Pierre (1999), Counteroffensive. Bucharest: Meridiane, 110.
  • [6] In Ancient Eastern countries there appear centralized states with an "economy" expanded to its borders. (Keich, R. (1996), Work of Nations. Bucharest: Paideia, 54.
  • [7] See: Nicolae Väleanu Ivanciu (1992), History of Economic Thought. Bucharest, Didactic and Pedagogical Publishing House, 175.
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