June 5, 2009

· Misc · orgtheory · Sociology

I had all my wisdom teeth removed earlier today and so I am perhaps not quite at the peak of my game. Although, if you ask me, there is quite a good argument to be made that the AMR is best read while high on a cocktail of extra-strength Advil, Vicodin, and Haagen Daz ice cream. Here instead, in honor of Teppo, is a clip from an episode of BBC car show Top Gear featuring one of the presenters, James May (aka “Captain Slow”), getting a lesson in rally car driving from Mikka Häkkinen, and subsequently entering a local Folk Rally.

Now, there are several orgtheory related points here. First and most obvious is the fact that there’s already an interesting literature on the dynamics of competitive racecar driving, as many of you will be aware. But, second, the social organization of this particular sort of Folk Rallying seems fascinating. For one thing, Finnish egalitarianism is evident in the composition of the field in the clip. For another, it seems that there is a terrific rule that keeps resource competition—the temptation to gussy up your car to give yourself an advantage—from getting out of hand. Rules such as this exist in NASCAR and other professional racing sports, of course, but they require a bunch of administrative monitoring systems which presumably would just be way too much hassle for a sport that’s not just amateur but also very informal, and meant to be fun. The solution? Every entrant’s car has a designated nominal value (1,000 Euro or whatever). At the end of the race, if another racer comes up to you and asks to buy your car for that much money, you have to sell it to them.

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I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m also affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Read a brief overview of my work or my Curriculum Vitae.

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