Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sociology of love and economics of sex

Okay, okay! By popular demand, we will take up the second one first!

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen tries his hand at answering a question posed by one of his loyal readers : if sex is so much fun, why is there so little of it? Tyler offers many gems, and here is one:

Sex stops being fun when you do it to close a gap between your marginal utilities. It requires spontaneity or some other quality inconsistent with the classical model of the consumer and the equation of marginal rates of substitution.

While we are at it (or, even if we are not at it ;-), here is an old, but very, very, nice piece: Me, Myself and I by Stephen Greenblatt, Professor of Humanities at Harvard; it is a review of a book Thomas W. Laqueur, a cultural historian at Berkeley. Greenblatt describes an incident when he invited Laqueur to "a regular [Harvard] forum in which we scheduled lectures by distinguished visiting scholars whose work boldly crossed disciplinary boundaries". What happened next was a total surprise:

... there was a tremendous outbreak of the jitters. Panic set in not among the students -— a large number of whom must have come of age watching There's Something About Mary -— but among the core of instructors who lead the seminars and conduct the tutorials.

Now that your curiosity is suitably piqued, read the whole thing.

The last one is an old post by Kieran Healy, who poses this question:

Quick, in high school were you ever told not to date your old girlfriend’s current boyfriend’s old girlfriend? Or your old boyfriend’s current girlfriend’s old boyfriend? Probably not. But I bet you never did, either.

Kieran then goes on to give you a nice, quick summary of social network theory, and its application to an interesting problem.

Of course, all this is nice and academic. And, fun too!