Two University of Oxford researchers, Max Harris and Alexander E. Kentikelenis, have written a short piece on some of the possible social effects of basic income for The Conversation. Specifically, they consider the question of how a basic income would affect “people’s sense of community and togetherness” — describing ways in which the policy could increase either solidarity or erode it.
On the one hand, a basic income could decrease social connection for certain individuals, if they use the financial freedom and security to pursue individual projects rather than collective ones, while also losing social ties in the workplace. On the other hand, the freedom provided by basic income could allow individuals to become more socially connected — permitting more time away from jobs that might isolate them from family, friends, and potential collaborators on shared projects.
In the end, Harris and Kentikelenis contend, “Ultimately, whether we think basic income will be solidarity-eroding or solidarity-enhancing depends on how deeply embedded we think individualism is in society.”
Kentikelenis is a research fellow in politics and sociology at Oxford, whose interests include political economy, organization studies, public health, and international development.
Harris is an Examination Fellow in Law at Oxford’s All Souls College. He has coauthored (with Victoria University postgraduate student Sebastiaan Bierema) a discussion paper on the possibility of a universal basic income in New Zealand for the New Zealand Labour Party’s Future of Work Commission. His new book The New Zealand Project, published by Bridget Williams Books in April 2017, considers UBI among other policy solutions for the nation.
Read the article here
Max Harris and Alexander E. Kentikelenis, “How a basic income could help build community in an age of individualism,” The Conversation, April 5, 2017.
Reviewed by Cameron McLeod
Photo: “Solitude” CC BY-ND 2.0 rich_f28