Is a reputation economy really an economy?


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He also makes a strong and important point that status isn’t entirely social – it has important biological correlates in things like cortisol and testosterone levels that have an inescapable effect on the cognition of the people who experience them.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, this is the best reason to avoid participating in human status games. Not only are such things caused by poor cognition, but they also in turn re-enforce poor cognition. It’s a feedback loop where those who get mired in it can’t see options outside of the system.

When engaging in disciplines which cultivate more control over individual thought and physiology - such as meditation, athletics, logic, etc - one can really start to notice in stark relief how much social activity is empty of actual goals or content, but rather seeks to influence and coerce even for its own sake. It’s a “path of least resistance”, because it’s just much easier than thought, debate, or negotiation. But like weeds, despite the apparent efficiency it goes nowhere and you can’t use it for anything practical beyond more of the same. People evaluating themselves and others for reputation and influence tends to result in emotional incontinence and cognitive contamination - not to mention an utter lack of discipline.

This I think contrasts against “cultural capital”, which ideally avoids petty transactional posturing in favor of some sort of actual achievement or standard of living.


I hope this reply gets many, many likes.

I live for it.


“Once an office culture allows its employees to win large amounts of status by ‘talking themselves up,’ everyone drops what they’re doing to focus on seeking credit and avoiding blame. In such an economy, only a sucker does any real work.”

Been there.
Of course, when the sucker leaves through a better offer, nervous breakdown or whatever, the uptalkers then have a little problem. The same with “reputation economies”; if the people who actually do the work stop, things will fall apart very quickly.

HR management and review systems seem to have “game me” written on the front page in big, friendly letters. I am sure that they are a driver of corporate dysfunction.


That most so-called “social media” reduce everything to this meaningless gesture is, I think, a cogent indicator of how ineffective they are. Is it really a culture of reason which would be concerned if strangers “like” one’s position on anything?

Consider in the article where:

None of these transactions is perfectly clean, and most of them are impossible to audit (arguably a feature rather than a bug, for some transactions).

It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to posit that “impossible to audit” is deliberately antithetical to reason. Which is to say, encouraging schmoozing and BS instead. I’d “like” to see social media framing which pushes people more into dialectics rather than catering to cults of personality.


Liked, in the hope of increasing my status by boosting yours.

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You know I never thought about it until now, but we’ve had a “reputation economy” since forever. It’s called privilege.

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We had a reputation economy for about forever, in other context, where the reputation was obtained/maintained, inter alia, by gift-giving.


FFS - no, it isn’t. Not by common usage, anyway. The crucial, distinguishing factor which makes “privilege” different from any similar term is that it has always meant something explicitly granted by a superior in a hierarchy. So, properly speaking, it would be a formal affair.

Granted, we can undertake an effort to re-contextualize this in preference of more accurate terms, and try to force it to mean something else. But why? It is easier and more clear to use a term which already means that which you mean to say. What most people here on bb BBS seem to insist means is the same as “bias”, it is informal.


This was the first time I encountered the word subrational. That’s often what I’m getting at when I use the word subconscious, so thanks Cory for helping me to be more specific.

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Jack Vance explored this concept in fiction in '61 in his short story “The Moon Moth.”

The Moon Moth html full text

Welcome to Robert Fuller’s world.

Evidence of privilege includes habits such as: presenting an opinion one admittedly has put no time into, as a fact to be reacted to, rather than as question seeking response.

Just since you don’t seem to know.

I only have to look in the mirror to find evidence. Does that mean I should SFTU?

Curiously there is no mention of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation (1944). He argued that social status is a far more powerful economic driver than profit and questioned the presumed historical inevitability & supremacy of the market economy / mercantilism.

According to Polanyi reciprocity and (fair) redistribution have historically lubricated the wheels of economic systems across continents and through the ages. In such exchange based economies status depend on fair play as opposed to a market economy, where you make profit by buying raw material below cost, paying labour below a living wage (possibly subsidised through foodstamps see Wallmart) and selling everything over price (see various property markets) i.e. an economy fundamentally based on hoodwinking everyone. wa


I’m constantly pointing to that that book when it comes to discussions on economics and capitalism, and modernity. It’s pretty brilliant.

The book is brilliant but the Wiki page on The Great Transformation is depressingly misleading totally missing the point of the argument – Polanyi doesn’t say human mentality changed he says market economy / profit motivated capitalism is counter to human nature. I am no expert but someone ought to update the page. It would do all those critical of the mythical supremacy of a capitalist economic system a huge favour.


Sounds like an interesting read, but I hope it goes into more detail than “human nature” - I always thought this sounded like a poor, obfuscated term of argument

Do it!
Or at least post the raw, uncooked points on the talk page.
The worst that can happen to you is getting reverted, and even then you have the data for your future reference in the edit history.

Cultural capital usually carries with it some physical trappings to validate it. Not in a moral sense, mind you, but in a sense of real world, physical evidence.

Reputation capital “should” be based on actions but if I base my evaluation of others reputations on how well their actions verify their words, they will then evaluate me the same way! Instead, we each agree to accept the other’s facade of status and reputation thus removing the need for any of us to actually prove our accomplishments.

We both they receive higher value through the other’s representation of us to outsiders who, not knowing the game, may give us real physical rewards based on our reputation. Given enough accomplices and enough dupes, we can gain enough physical trappings to create our own Cultural Capital. Now we only have to maintain…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, concepts like evidence, documentation, logic, discernment, and objectivity are taking a dirt nap for the larger part of society. Endgame: An elaborate house of cards that someone/thing will eventually blow over and the builders will be unequipped to rebuild something stable.

Dear Lord, can I be anti-society and pro-community? And if so, how?

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