In section 3, we reflect on three broad legacies (charity, commons, and
) onwhich philanthropic organizations have been built, and identify the different sets of constraints and blockages that these three strands face. In section 4, we suggest aconceptual framework to deal more directly with the governance challenges with whichthese strands are confronted. In section 5, we put forward some modest generalpropositions that may provide guidance in the governance of the solidarity sector. Theconclusion reflects briefly on the speculation in good currency that solidarity governanceis likely to become more important in the future.
1. Solidarity in perspective
Self-interest is at the core of economics. Economics is mainly built on the assumptionthat the only things that matter are self-regarding preferences: concerns about personalgains or losses, and not what others gain or lose. There is some work done at the marginof conventional economics that deals with other-regarding issues like positional goods,reputation, etc. (Hirsch 1976; Klein 1997), but most of this work presents other-regardingdimensions as “instrumental” in pursuing self-regarding preferences. In effect, economicshas an autistic quality.As a result, it is generally concluded in the economic literature that, unless externalconstraints or incentives are in place or are imposed, less collaboration than might bewarranted ensues, and the collectivity suffers.This approach is unduly restrictive and occludes the possibility that individuals might bemuch less autistic than is usually assumed. Work that takes this latter position, such asthe Post-Autistic Economics Network (www.paecon.net), remains still somewhatmarginal within the economic discipline, but it has been gaining more attention in recenttimes.But presuming that other-regarding motivations exist, and speculating or theorizing aboutit, cannot suffice. To be able to argue convincingly that individuals behave in other-regarding ways, one must show that such behavior is observed, explain why it emerges,and be able to point to the consequences it entails.On these three fronts, some progress has already been made.First, the existence of other-regarding behavior has now been amply demonstratedexperimentally (Gintis et al 2005).Second, such behavior (and the institutional arrangements in which it is embedded)appears to have three important sources: the first one (charities) has roots in tradition andreligion; the second one (commons) is mainly ascribable to some awareness by actors of their transversal sharing of facilities and of the interdependencies that such a situationentails; the third one (based on a logic of
) has to do with a commitment to dosomething one is proud of as a result of one’s own status or sense of identity (Hanley2000; Graeber 2007:32).