Sunday, December 6, 2009

Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Chapter 8, "Exit and Voice in American Ideology and Practice"

Central place of exit in American history and self-conception: immigration (exit from former land), the frontier (exit from settled part of America), individual social mobility (exit from lower status groups, even in location).

Emerging black political movements have departed from individual mobility as the ideal -- seen as weakening the ability of the group to advance by depriving it of talented advocates.

Short discussion about why option of exit from the country or from its government seems so stunted despite its otherwise central role. At first cut this boils down to positing high entry costs of immigration. Not very compelling -- most Americans are not immigrants, even if their ancestors were. Then more discussion of peculiar factors that may suppress exit from government positions. the key suggestion is that one's role in government could be seen as especially important and consequential because the country is so powerful, and the consequences of it going astray absent one's influence could be so dire.

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