What limits the powerful?

24 October 2017 19:07

What limits the powerful?

Øivind Schøyen explores coercion resentment in his working paper "What limits the powerful in imposing the morality of their authority?"

PhD student Øivind Schøyen models a game between an authority and a parental generation who both wish to influence the morality of a younger generation to explore the effect of coercion resentment in his new working paper "What limits the powerful in imposing the morality of their authority?"

As states wish to rule with legitimacy, they must rule in alignment witht the morality of the population. One way to ensure this is to use coercion to change people's morality, but then there might be a counteraction, which might make coercion useless. 

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 Schøyen explores the mechanisms behind moral persistence in the face of hostile institutional environments to decompose the effect of coercion, aimed at changing moralities. He uses a micro-founded model to find extrinsic and intrinsic reactions to the coercion. The model assumes that attempts to force people to change their moralities will invoke a resentment toward the authority behind this use of force, making certain levels of coercion counterproductive to attaining legitimacy and potentially causing insurrections against the authority. The key result is the evidence of the necessary micro level assumptions for an inefficient interval of coercion that can account for authorities choosing to restrain their use of coercion.

Read the working paper

Abstract

This paper models a game between an authority, seeking to implement its preferred morality, and a parental generation, seeking to socialize a younger generation into the their own morality. The authority chooses a coercion level for adhering to the non-state morality, whereupon the parental generation chooses whether to insurrect and, if not, how much to invest in socialization. The novel feature of this paper is that we formalize and explore the consequences of an intrinsic negative reaction to coercion: coercion resentment. The key result is to show the necessary micro-level assumptions for an ineffcient interval of coercion that can account for authorities choosing to restrain their use of coercion. Furthermore, the paper characterizes the socialization and insurrection preferences needed for the long run equilibrium to be path dependent. Two historical periods are presented through the lens of the model: the Counter-Reformation in early modern France and the Holy Roman Empire (1517-1685) and the Soviet Secularization project (1922-1991).