- Briefly describe the political economic system Perkins calls the “corporatocracy” and describe the role of an “economic hitman” (EHM) within it. Use social psychological terms from this course to help demonstrate how the social, economic, and political structures in place encourage a particular way of thinking, feeling, and acting for the EHM.
- Outline the features of the EHM career that made it attractive to Perkins (think not only about self esteem, reference groups, and self-fulfilling prophesies, but also about material rewards and incentives). Outline the features of this career that made it repulsive to him as well.
- Becker discussed the call to heroism as a vehicle for self esteem as a dominant motive for human action. In what way does Perkins allow (even require) you to reformulate this rather optimistic formulation of what attracts human beings to their “callings”? Do you think that the notion of human “frailties” is a necessary addition to Becker’s discussion of self-esteem?
- Charon discusses concepts such as altercasting, self-perception, self-judgment, self-control, and reference groups to discuss how individuals forge a self-concept which helps shape the course and content of their social interactions. Are they useful in understanding this case? Perkins experienced an elevated sense of ambivalence over his career as an EHM which ultimately lead him to end it. Discuss the main details of his autobiography which documents the material and the social psychological pushes and pulls which alternatively help him to decide what to do with his future.
- Perkins makes some suggestions about how to bring about social change with respect to education and the dissemination of information. These suggestions make sense in a social psychology course framework, but do you think this would be enough to extinguish the corporatocracy or do measures suggested by Kovel and Kueneman in the commentary seem necessary?
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