FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 76, Fall 2020
Whose Community? Market Economics and the Concept of Solidarity
Paul R. Koch
Olivet Nazarene University
This paper is part of a symposium organized in cooperation with the AEI Initiative on Faith and Public Life titled: “In the Contemporary United States What Would a Truly Humane Economy Look Like?“
Abstract: The debate over the relationship between market processes and community values has intensified in recent years, due to the pace of economic change, as well as the respective impacts of the global financial crisis and the pandemic. This essay explores various conceptions of community, raising the question of whether or not a genuine sense of social solidarity requires that those who participate in those interactions live in physical proximity to one another. The implications of this discussion for economic policy are also examined, including the possibility that the composition of what has been historically regarded as “conservative” economics might be altered in a way that would be designed to benefit communities that are defined in local or national terms. Given the negative economic consequences of those actions that might be characterized as “building walls,” attention is devoted to potential policies that are intended to “build bridges” to the future for those who have been dislocated by new patterns of market activity. These explorations seek to advance the goal of assisting certain definitions of community without assuming that they have a higher moral standing than other conceptions of social solidarity, while also avoiding the conclusion that existing jobs and industries are more important than those which have not yet come into existence.