Conformity to Inegalitarian Conventions and Norms: The Contribution of Coordination and Esteem

19 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2005  

Richard H. McAdams

University of Chicago Law School

Abstract

In this contribution to a symposium on "Conformism," I comment on two of the many mechanisms producing conformity: coordination and esteem. First, I set forth one point about conformity in coordination settings - that there can be a strong stability to conventions in which the required behavior varies by the observable physical differences among human beings, such as sex and those that come to be associated with race. In a certain class of important games, observable personal differences work to "break symmetry," which significantly changes the possible outcomes to the game. Second, I explain the claim that human beings desire the esteem of others and then discuss how this simple preference can produce significant conformity. As with coordination, one implication is that esteem-seeking among strangers is likely to make behaviorally relevant the distinctions among individuals that even a stranger will know, i.e., observable physical traits, including sex and race. In both cases - coordination and esteem - I emphasize some inegalitarian (and illiberal) types of conformity.

Suggested Citation

McAdams, Richard H., Conformity to Inegalitarian Conventions and Norms: The Contribution of Coordination and Esteem. The Monist, Vol. 88, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=692841

Richard H. McAdams (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-2520 (Phone)

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