Why are socio-economic contingencies so often counterproductive? A
layman' s reflexion
Marc Richelle
University of Liège, Belgium

Economic factors are increasingly pervasive in our modern societies, and consequently in individual lives. Their crucial importance might not be anything new, if we trust some economists and philosophers; but what is certainly new is the explicit, overt discourse around economic matters that invades social life, with its key words, such as "laws of the market", "economic priorities", "globalisation", etc. Citizens are taught that the pursuit of their happiness is hopeless unless through economic harmony. And no one is supposed to ignore what economics is about. This gives the layman and woman implicit permission for asking questions about how economy is run, and to express his or her surprise at a number of dysfunctionings, contradictions and absurdities, which badly fits with the
sophisticated models of economics. With this background in mind, some concrete cases will be discussed in terms of reinforcement contingencies, and reference to Skinner's views.

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