How a basic income could help build community in an age of individualism

Basic Income Earth Network

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.

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