Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Reference Bibliography:
Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies
Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity
Toshio Yamagishi and Midori Yamagishi, Trust and Commitment in the United States and Japan

Benkyokai December 26, 1998

Reference Bibliography:

Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies

Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity

Toshio Yamagishi and Midori Yamagishi, Trust and Commitment in the United States and Japan

The Gift

The Potlach, the Kula... The obligation to give, accept, reciprocate...

"According to Malinowski, these vaygu'a follow a kind of circular movement: the mwali, the bracelets, are passed on regularly from west to east, whereas the soulava aways travel from east to west."

Now the gift necessarily entails the notion of credit. The evolution in economic law has not been from barter to sale, and from cash sale to credit sale. On the one hand, barter has arisen through a system of presents given and reciprocated accordining to a time limit. This was through a process of simplification, by reductions in periods of time formerly arbitrary. On the other hand, buying and selling arose in the same way, with the latter according to a fixed time limit, or by cash, as well as by lending.

From ancient Roman law.. nexus... "The thing pledged is normally without value; for example, sticks are exchanged, the stips in the 'stipulation' of Roman law..." "Above all, they are still the residues of formerly obligatory gifts, that were owned because of reciprocity."

"It is our western societies who have recently made man an 'economic animal'. But we are not yet all creatures of the genus."


"The accumulation of social capital, however, is a complicated and in many ways mysterious cultural process."

"many neoclasically economists have come to believe that economic method they have discovered provides them with the tools for constructing something approaching a universal science of man." "rational choice theory"

"In the words of one economist, 'The first principle of Economics is that every agent is actuated only by self-interest"

"Jeremy Bentham; that utility is the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain."

"But this type of formal definition of utility reduces the fundamental premise of economics to an assertion that peole maximize whatever it is they choose to maximize, a tautology that robs the model of any interest or explanatory power. By contrast, to assert that people prefer their selfish material interests over other kinds of interests is to make a strong statement about human nature."

spontaneous sociability

"Durkhem labeled 'organic solidarity'"

"Geertz's own definition of culture is 'an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards life."

US/Japan/Germany have large companies because of protestant and secularism/iemoto/guilds

saddle shaped family intensive state intensive do not scale, except Korea which was intentional

US communities breaking down. Japanese system changing with recession...

State can control and affect greatly how culture grows and is used in economy.

"Social apital is like a ratchet that is more easily turned in one direction than another; it can be dissipated by the actions of governments much more readily than those governments can build it up again. Now that the question of ideology and institutions has been settled, the preservation and accumulation of social capital will occupy center stage."

Trust and Commitment in the US and Japan

"purely selfish utility maximizer postulated by economists"

"Trust can thus be defined as a bias in the processing of imperfect information about the partner:s intentions. A trusting person is the one who overestimates the benighity of the partner's intentions beyond thelevel waranted by the prudent assesment of the available information."

"Perception of the risk or the subjective social uncertainty may be higher among those who mostly deal with insiders in committed relations than those who are regularly in contact with outsiders. In this sense, commitment may actually reduce the level of trust in outsiders, and a s a result, those who mostly stay in the security of committed relations experience higher subjective social uncertainty."

"Reputation can provide an extra assurance for committed people to deal with social undertainty involved in the deals with outsiders."

"reputation often works as a sanctioning mechanism against dishonest deeds"

"People may often refrain from misconduct because they are afraid of getting a bad reputation."

"we suspect that informational role of reputation is more imortant in American society, whereas the sanctioning role is more important in Japanese society."

"Whereas knowledge-based trust is limited to particular objects (people or organizations), general trust is a belief in the benevolence of human nature in general and thus is not limited to particular objects."

"Americans consider honesty more important than do Japanese"

"On the other hand, knowledge-based trust is conceptually distinct from assurance, which is another derivative of committed relations."

"committed relations are in fact expected to reduce development of knowledge-based trust."

balance between committed relationshis and general trust...

"Japanese society currently faces the problem of creating that balance in respoonse to the pressures of opening-up of the society and the economy, whereas American society faces the problem of maintaining it in the face of increasing social uncertainty."