The aim of this program is to address external shocks, spillover, and feedback effects that threaten a resilient society. We achieve this by examining cooperation sustainability in and between families, communities, and organizations. In recent years, we have developed an interdisciplinary framework integrating insights from psychology, sociology, history, and philosophy (the SCOOP approach). This framework specifies institutional arrangements that facilitate cooperation by considering complex interactive dynamics and their societal effects from a long-term (historical) perspective. It also provides an understanding of the tension versus compatibility between underlying goals and values, which can erode or enhance cooperation over time. This approach addresses these dynamics from an integrated theoretical perspective. It also connects different datasets and methodologies that shed light on cooperation sustainability as a central outcome variable. The unique features of the SCOOP approach are indispensable in achieving our overarching goals of developing roadmaps for a resilient society and creating criteria for interventions that effect lasting change.
SCOOP’s central dependent variable – sustainable cooperation within and between families, organizations, and communities – is located at the group level, but the dynamics affecting it cannot be restricted to one level of analysis. Cooperation is affected by actions and behavioral patterns at the individual level, by changes at the societal level, and by the ideals and values that govern each domain. To adequately analyze and assess the patterns of cooperation on all these levels of analysis, SCOOP is designed as a thoroughly interdisciplinary endeavor, combining expertise from psychology and sociology, history, and philosophy. As a result, SCOOP forms a comprehensive and integrated framework encompassing different levels of analysis and comprising a variety of methods to describe, explain and analyze the relevant variables. Throughout the SCOOP-program, we apply the framework to study the interplay between behavioral mechanisms, institutions, and ideals and values.
Three Kinds of Sustainability Threats
The interdisciplinary approach consists of the integrated use of a number of methods and tools from the social sciences and humanities. SCOOP research will employ methodologies from Experimental Social Psychology, Analytical Sociology, Historical-Institutional Analysis, and Analytic Philosophy.
In the application of the interdisciplinary approach, the emphasis will fall on the way behavioral mechanisms, institutions, and ideals and values contribute to or sustain different forms of cooperation in society. First, behavioral mechanisms are (intra-, inter-personal and intergroup)psychological processes affecting the motives, cognitions, and actions of individuals. The key question that we address with respect to these mechanisms is under what conditions are individuals willing to forgo personal benefits in order to contribute to the realization of collective benefits? Second, the institutions of cooperation form the complexand constantly changing combinations of formal and informal rules, procedures, and conventions that regulate social life. SCOOP examines, in particular, the conditions under which institutions enhance or hinder sustainable cooperation within and between societal domains. The third focal point is the identification of the ideals of cooperation as reflected in the individual and social benefits that may arise from cooperation as well as the beliefs thatindividuals, organizations, and communities have regarding those ideals.
Cooperation is sustainable when it realizes values and ideals, thus any account of sustainability must include a normative analysis of these. A major threat to sustainable cooperation emerges when its internal benefits come at the expense of its social value. Furthermore, tensions between social values (e.g., diversity and consensus,security and freedom, economic welfare, and personalwell-being) challenge sustainability. In a study of sustainable cooperation, therefore, a systematic examination of how values may support or conflict with each other is of central importance.