Santa Fe Institute
Harnessing Social Capital to Enhance Collective Welfare
Inequality—in income or social position—is a central issue among social scientists, policymakers, the media, and the public. In this panel discussion, Santa Fe Institute Professor Jessica Flack, whose expertise is collective computation, will talk with Nicholas Christakis, a sociologist and physician at Yale, and Matt Jackson, an economist at Stanford. The trio will discuss whether income and other social forms of inequality are intrinsically problematic, what gives rise to them, and how we might harness this understanding to improve collective and individual welfare.
These are challenging questions with many confounds and entangled variables, but, for the first time in human history, we are in a position to answer them. Thanks to social media and innovations in large-scale field experiments, we have quantitative data on human social networks, including the quality, diversity, and frequency of our interactions with others, and how our networks change as society and the environment changes. This now allows us to do rigorous experiments on social networks. We can then address how the social capital reflected in these networks influences human welfare, as well as explore the relative importance of social versus financial capital to the quality of our lives.
Image: A School for Boys, Jan Steen, 1670.
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Tickets on sale: Wednesday, September 27, 2022 at 10am.
Tickets are free, general admission.