Cameron, Samuel. The Economics of Hate.

Author:Uneke, Okori
Position:Book review

Cameron, Samuel. The Economics of Hate. Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009. viii + 191 pages. Cloth, $100.00.

Samuel Cameron, an economics professor at the University of Bradford, explores the subject of hate, not usually considered a province of microeconomics, from an economic perspective. While the author does not claim that economics can provide "an all-embracing universal theory of hate" (p. 5), he believes that studying hate from an economic point of view could provide the bedrock for an interdisciplinary approach. His pioneering effort applies economics to the subject of hate through topics as diverse as road rage, war, terrorism, witchcraft, marriage and divorce, and bullying and harassment. The principal objective of the book is to analyze economic behavior in such cases and thereby contribute to an explanation of hate.

Cameron begins by defining hate/hatred as "the willingness to incur costs to harm others and the expression of violent dislike towards others" (p. 6). He characterizes hatred as follows: First, it is the most extreme emotion. This is based on the notion that hatred is founded on its virulent expression in the form of murder, mutilation, and other forms of devastation of lives. Second, hatred is more likely to provoke extreme social disapproval than expression of other emotions. However, where hatred is shared within a group towards a common goal, it can elicit strong approval. Third, displays of hatred exhibit more irrationality than displays of other emotions (e.g., the jealous lover who kills someone involved with his/her love partner). Lastly, once formed, hatred is not easily diffused or deflected into 'safety valve' outlets. Here, the author explores the hate-anger connection. The distinction between hatred and anger is that while expression of anger unaccompanied by force or credible threat of force might be considered temporary, hatred implies emotions that are sustained (pp. 1-3).

In studying the subject of hate from an economic perspective, Cameron argues that hatred is open to rational choice analysis. For example, the fear of sanctions associated with hate can be explained in terms of rational behavior. Anti-hate legislation, the author observes, generates direct costs to would-be haters, such as fines, prison sentences or curfews, as well as indirect costs, such as lost career opportunities and bad reputation. Collectively, society condemns expressions of hatred due to the cost potential of...

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