Tentation du « Brexit » et théorie hirschmanienne

PRINCETON – Albert Hirschman, grand économiste décédé en fin d’année dernière, avait le don de savoir formuler des idées-forces en appréhendant un élément de comportement donné en tant que moyen de transformer notre vision de tout un ensemble de problèmes particuliers. L’un de ses travaux les plus ambitieux s’intitule Théorie de la sortie, de la protestation et de la loyauté.

Initialement formulée à l’issue d’une expérience s’intéressant aux trains d’Afrique de l’Ouest, la théorie d’Hirschman suggère que tout système sociétal complexe voyant ses protagonistes s’en aller (sortie) est susceptible de voir son efficacité se détériorer ; une solution plus judicieuse consistant à garder ces personnes (loyauté) afin que celles-ci soit incitées à faire valoir leurs exigences (protestation), ce qui améliorerait la performance du système.

Il est facile de comprendre en quoi cette théorie peut être appliquée aux relations entre les personnes. Le lien du mariage est susceptible d’être rompu lorsque la perspective de divorce (sortie) apparaît trop aisée ; ce lien devenant d’un autre côté insupportable à défaut d’un sens de responsabilité mutuel et d’une discussion (protestation). Cette protestation peut également faiblir lorsque de nouvelles possibilités émergent : l’apparition d’un nouveau partenaire potentiel signifie qu’il n’existe plus de pression dont il serait nécessaire de discuter, ni de besoin d’améliorer les relations au sein de l’arrangement en place.

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