ERIC Number: ED362426
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
Reference Count: N/A
Cooperation among Strangers. An Occasional Paper of the Kettering Foundation.
Brown, David W.
This document examines the function of social conventions among strangers. Conventions are regularities in behavior, sustained by an interest in coordination and an expectation of cooperation. Such regularities may arise temporarily or fall just as temporarily; they may exist in a particular time or place and may take time to evolve. From the existence of conventions comes the knowledge that due to the interdependence of people within a society, there is an intense interest in coordination among strangers. Without social organization there is no way to bring about such coordination. Moreover, conventions give a sense of communality to a culture in which individualism is a significant value. Individuals, however, may feel that personal efforts to solve social problems are minuscule or even futile. Leaders may recognize that conditional cooperation is ground enough for establishing a convention. For a new convention to arise, there has to be enough individuals to make that convention work. Sometimes people participate in social action because they do not realize the likelihood of failure. The experience may produce its own staying power. Progress affords encouragement to participants that success is possible and depends on cooperation. Even failure to produce new conventions may yield success stories. Not everyone may follow the path those who cooperate create, but their efforts may lead to solutions for social problems. (SG)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Dayton, OH.
Identifiers: Social Conventions