The Psychosocial Dimension of Power: An Emotional Analysis of the Discourse on Globalization of the Davos Elite
Mario D’Andreta
Ancona, Italy.
DOI: 10.4236/jss.2022.109016   PDF    HTML   XML   94 Downloads   619 Views  


This work focused on the psychosocial dynamics underlying the political and cultural action of the global elite, through a pilot study of the image of globalization of the World Economic Forum (WEF) addressed to identify possible strategies for developing those dynamics in a more democratic and socio-economically fair way in order to strengthen the global civil coexistence. The study was conducted on a corpus of texts composed of interviews, articles and speeches of the member of World Economic Forum’s board of trustees focused on the issue of globalization, according to the methodology of Emotional Text Analysis. The results show the centrality of specific patterns of relational and organizational models, based on the tendency to possess the other, the need for power as dominant social motivation and a self-referential, mythical conception of supranational financial institutions which let them to operate without real commission, nor evaluation of efficacy, from their beneficiaries. On the basis of this scenario, two ways of development were identified: the valorization of the other as a resource for the reciprocal development and the passage from a compliance based logic of action to a commonly agreed goals and products based one.

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D’Andreta, M. (2022) The Psychosocial Dimension of Power: An Emotional Analysis of the Discourse on Globalization of the Davos Elite. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 10, 235-276. doi: 10.4236/jss.2022.109016.

1. Introduction

The research work reported in this paper stems from the intent to start a path of analysis of the power dynamics expressed by the influence of contemporary global elite (Carroll, 2010; Galli & Caligiuri, 2017; George, 2010; Phillips, 2018; Rothkopf, 2008; Sklair, 2001) over the process of global governance (Goldin, 2013; Murphy, 2014), within the meaning framework of globalization (Hay, 1997, 1999, 2002; Hay & Marsch, 2000; Hay & Rosamond, 2002; Hay & Smith, 2005; Hay & Watson, 1998; Rosamond, 1999, 2003; Smith, 2005; Watson, 1999, 2005; Steger, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2021; Steger & James, 2019, 2020; Turner & Holton, 2015), from a psychosocial perspective based on the psychological theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992). It represents a pilot inquiry focused on the analysis of the discourse on globalization produced by the Davos elite (Buxton, 2014, 2016; Marshall, 2015), the representatives of the global elite that gather every year in Davos (Switzerland) for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (Galli & Caligiuri, 2017; Phillips, 2018; Pigman, 2007), the international organization for public-private cooperation, established in 1971, which pursues the declared aim of improving “the state of the world” through the engagement of “the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas” (Word Economic Forum, 2022). The research investigated the psychosocial dimension underlying the political, economic and cultural action of the global power elite represented by the World Economic Forum with the aim of better understanding its meaning and purpose, in relation to the current situation of economic, political, social, cultural and environmental crisis, and of identify possible strategies of intervention to enhance democracy and socio-economic justice of the global policy-making process, increase quality of life and strengthen social coexistence at a global level.

2. Theoretical Framework

This work refers to five theoretical perspectives:

1) The wide field of sociological and psychological theories and models focused on the social, dialogical and interpretative nature of reality, conceived as a product of interactions among social actors that attributes sense to their own experience (Blumer, 1969; Mead, 1934; Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Gergen, 2015; von Glasersfeld, 1995; Searle, 1995; Farr & Moscovici, 1984; Matte Blanco, 1975; Carli, 1987, 1990, 2006a),

2) The complex of sociological, politological and psychological theories and methods that analyze power from a relational perspective (Carli, 2001; Dahl, 1957; Arendt, 1958; Sorrentino, 2008; Barus-Michel et al., 2005; Lukes, 2021; Guerrero et al., 2011; Panebianco, 2004; Zolo, 1992; Blau, 1964; Fairclough, 2014; McClelland, 1958),

3) The set of sociological and politological study approaches to the issue of globalization that examine it from an interpretative and ideational perspective, in line with the first of the theoretical references of the present study (Berry, 2008; Hay, 1997, 2018; Cameron & Palan, 2004; Foucault, 1969, 1971; Rupert, 2000; Mittelman, 2004; Antoniades, 2007; Shaw, 1994; Featherstone, 1995; Albrow, 1996; Steger, 2002, 2013, 2021),

4) The field of study focused on the analysis of the emerging concept of global elite (Pakulski, 2015; Rothkopt, 2008; Sklair, 2001; Zakaria, 2008; Nye, 2010; Phillips, 2018; Robinson, 2018),

5) The theory of collusion elaborated by (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2006a, 2020a), which provides an interpretative key for the understanding of the social construction of power, via the process of reciprocal emotional symbolization of reality that drives human action.

2.1. Sociological and Psychological Constructivist and Interpretative Approaches to Reality

This work draws upon the assumption that social behavior is driven by socially shaped and shared meanings of the subjective experience of reality. This assumption results from the empirical research and theoretical elaboration in the field of social sciences, starting from the theory of symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969; Carter & Fuller, 2016; Charon, 2004; Mead, 1934; Reynolds & Hermann-Kinney, 2003; Stryker, 1980, 2008) in the 30’s of the last century, passing for the social constructivism (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Burr, 1995; Gergen, 2015; von Glasersfeld, 1995; Harré, 2002; Harré & Gillett, 1994; Kukla, 2000; Leeds-Hurwitz, 2009; Lock & Strong, 2010; Pfadenhauer & Knoblauch, 2020; Searle, 1995) and the theory of social representations (Abric, 1994; Jodelet, 1991; Duveen & Lloyd, 1990; Farr & Moscovici, 1984; Moscovici, 1961, 1963, 1988; Sammut et al., 2015; Wagner & Hayes, 2005) in the 60’s and 70’s of the last century, up to the Matte Blanco’s Bi-logic theory of mind (Bomford, 1999; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2020; Ginzburg & Lombardi, 2007; Lombardi, 2009, 2015; Matte Blanco, 1975, 1988; Rayner, 1995; Rayner & Tuckett, 1988) and the Carli’s theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992) from the 80’ of the last century until our days. These two latter approaches represent a development and renewal of the psychoanalytic theory of Freud, based on the rediscovery and development of the first Freudian theory of unconscious (named ‘First Topic’) (Freud, 1900, 1933), which was grounded in a conception of unconscious as a logic, a mode of being of the mind, and not as a place in the mind—articulated in the three components of the Ego, the Id and the Superego—as theorized in the second theory of the unconscious (named ‘Second Topic’), elaborated by Freud (1923), which then become the prevalent approach to unconscious in psychoanalysis (Carli, 1987, 1995, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2003, 2014). Within this path of development of the first Freudian theory, Matte Blanco (1975) elaborated his Bi-logic theory of mind, based on a conception of unconscious as a mode of mind functioning, according to a logic different from that founding the conscious though. The former, which is defined by Matte Blanco as a “homogeneous and indivisible modality” (Matte Blanco, 1975), is based on the principles of generalization and symmetry, which the unconscious mind uses to deal with reality and through the process of affective symbolization (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Fornari, 1975; Freud, 1900; Matte Blanco, 1975) produces an emotional elaboration of objects and relationships within contexts in the social reality. The latter, which is conceived by Matte Blanco (1975) as a “heterogenic-dividing modality, based on the principles of identity and not contradiction, principally aimed at establishing relations among aspects of reality, through the process of perception organizes the contexts from a cognitive point of view.

2.2. The Concept of Power from a Psychosocial Perspective

This work is based on a conception of power as a relational phenomenon dialogically produced within social interactions, through the affective symbolization of contexts shared by the social actors, according to the Collusion’s theory of Carli (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016). In this perspective, power is contextualized by the relationships within which it emerges and by the emotions which organize those relationships. Two crucial emotions which organize human relationships are sharing and claiming. Sharing founds productive relationships through the generation of third elements, or products, that structurally modify the relationships contexts. Claim, instead, produces power relations, intended as the relationship of an individual over another individual that is produced by the failing of sharing (Carli, 2021).

Several authors, from different disciplinary approaches, focused on the relational nature of power (Dahl, 1957; Arendt, 1958; Foucault, 1977, 1994; Sorrentino, 2008; Barus-Michel et al., 2005; Lukes, 2021; Guerrero et al., 2011; Panebianco, 2004; Zolo, 1992; Blau, 1964). Foucault (Sorrentino, 2008) conceived the power as something that produces effects within relationships and not as an object that someone can possess and others not. It is always the product of an interaction, of an exchange and this makes possible to emancipate from it and defend against its prevarications (Foucault, 1977). In this regard, Arendt (1958) argued that power is always a potentiality, a potential power and not an immutable entity. Foucault also conceives power as discourse (Foucault, 1969, 1971), as a process of building of knowledge that produce ‘regimes of truth’, that is systems of knowledge on social reality, which define as a given social reality and the social relationships within it should be conceived (Foucault, 1994). The discoursecan be considered the main instrument of power. It produces, maintains and changes power relations in modern society (Fairclough, 2014). It is the means by which power legitimates and imposes itself, shaping imagery and expectations that support it (Barus-Michel et al., 2005). Power is inscribed in the human psychic nature, because of children’s dependence on parental figures: the phantasmal power of the mother and the authority of the father; the former representing protection and safety and the latter representing the law (Barus-Michel et al., 2005). But power is also strictly linked to the social nature of human beings, that produce power through discourses and actions when they gather together in the form of society (Arendt, 1958). McClelland (1958, 1987) considered power as one of the three main motivational drivers of human relationships, characterized by the desire to control and influence others to achieve their goals and seeking agreement and compliance from them.

In a more general sense the concept of power indicates the ability to produce effects both on a natural and social level and, more specifically on the social level, it can be conceived as the ability to influence the behavior of others (Portinaro, 2021; Parsons, 1963; Plato, 1997a; Panebianco, 2004; Zolo, 1992; Bachrach & Baratz, 1970; French & Raven, 1959). Deepening the analysis of this general definition several relational dynamics emerge that foster power (Lukes, 1996):

· Force and violence (Arendt, 1970; Canetti, 1981; Foucault, 1978; Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002; Neumann, 1957; Sorel, 1908; Cotta, 1978; Lasswell & Kaplan, 1950),

· Coercion (Stoppino, 1995; Luhmann, 1979; Portinaro, 2021; Weber, 1968; Neumann, 1957; Arendt, 1970; Canetti, 1981; Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002; Bourricaud, 1961; Chazel, 1992; Hobbes, 1994; Wrong, 1979; Simmel, 1989; Wartenberg, 1990; Nozick, 1972),

· Influence (Lukes, 1996; Lasswell & Kaplan, 1950; Luhmann, 1979),

· Manipulation (Elster, 1983; Lukes, 1996; Plott & Levine, 1978),

· Persuasion (Portinaro, 2021; Neumann, 1957; Hirschman, 1991; Galbraith, 1983),

· Authority (Friedrich, 1958; Hobbes, 1994; de Jouvenel, 1997; Wolff, 1970),

· Authoritarianism (and Totalitarianism) (Arendt, 1951; Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002; Neumann, 1957; Beck, 2002; Han, 2019; Canetti, 1981; de Jouvenel, 1997),

· Command and obeying (Bodin, 1988; Canetti, 1981; Hobbes, 1994; de Jouvenel, 1997; Plato, 1997a; Luhmann, 1979; Mills, 1956; Weber, 1968, 1994),

· Inequality (Galbraith, 1983; Lenski, 1966; Weber, 1968),

· Domination (Arendt, 1951; Canetti, 1981; Hobbes, 1994; Thucydides, 1963; Weber, 1968),

· Oppression (Levine, 2006; Marx, 1996; MacPherson, 1983; Weber, 1968; Young, 1990).

The concept of power can also be considered according to the tripartition: power-over, power-to and power-with (Portinaro, 2021; Pansardi, 2018; Pansardi & Bindi, 2021), that is power as individual and collective productive and creative capacity or power as domination, where those who don’t have the ability to do, do through the others. In the second case, power loses its productive component and found a specific mode of social relationship characterized by the possession of the other, that is transformed into an instrumental object to achieve one’s desire (Carli, 2001, 2020b; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003). In this case relationships become asymmetric and organized around the command-obedience and control-discipline dimensions, according to a dominant-dominated scheme (Portinaro, 2021; Weber, 1968; Mills, 1956; Ferrero, 1942; Ortega y Gasset, 1974; Sharp, 2010). Moreover, power-over is ambivalent, since it can provide protection, security, order and justice, but also attack and destroy social coexistence (de Jouvenel, 1947). The relational scheme dominant-dominated was already illustrated by Thucydides (1963), Plato (1997b) and Hobbes (1994), who also anticipated the distinction between power-over and power-to and the attention towards the discursive nature of power. From a relational perspective, the concept of power also recalls that of law as regulator of social relationships, in order to protect against its possible abuses (Diderot, 1984; Rousseau, 1975; Kant, 1996). Weber (Weber, 1968; Beetham, 2013) focused the importance of legitimacy of power as the way through which dominated accept their condition, on the basis of the belief in three sources of legitimation: tradition, charisma and rationality-law (Weber, 1994). Moreover, with reference to the model of collusion, another emotional dimension appears crucial in relation to the dynamics of power, that of controlling (Carli, 2020c, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003), a function that can be only exercised on individuals or groups of individuals and not on relationships, and that comes into play, therefore, when the relationship founded on sharing fails and individuals appear, as isolated atoms outside the contexts and the productive sharing of relationship based on the exchange with the other (Carli, 2021). Control can degenerate into oppression of the other, up to its most extreme forms, such as, for instance, the experience of the Nazi death camps (Portinaro, 2021).

2.3. The Interpretative Approaches to Globalization

Over the past 25 years, a variegated approach to the ideational and discursive dimensions of globalization has developed in the context of studies on this topic. Berry (2008, 2011) includes four main perspectives within this approach: a ‘third wave’ of globalization theory, a post-structuralist, a neo-Gramscian and a sociological perspective.

1) The “third wave” of globalization theory.

This perspective conceives globalization as a set of ideas, produced by certain economic and political actors to justify or legitimate change, that provide cognitive frames through which interpret social reality and define what is economically and politically acceptable in terms of public policies (Hay, 1997, 1999, 2002). This perspective is focused on the empirical investigations of these ideas, especially in British political discourse, with the purpose of demystifying globalization as a false idea (Hay, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2014, 2018; Hay & Marsh, 2000; Hay & Rosamond, 2002; Hay & Smith, 2005; Hay & Watson, 1998; Rosamond, 1999, 2003; Smith, 2005; Watson, 1999, 2005). It draws upon the outcomes of the analysis of the New Labour’s political discourse of globalization in Britain (Hay, 1997; Hay & Smith, 2005; Hay & Watson, 1998, Berry, 2008), which provides evidence that the political discourse of globalization, rather than globalization itself, shapes political action by defining what can be politically and economically acceptable in terms of policies (Hay & Watson, 1998) and that political institutions strategically used different discourses of globalization for different purposes, in order to justify and legitimate its political action (Hay, 2002, 2014, 2018; Hay & Smith, 2005; Hay & Rosamond, 2002).

2) The post-structuralist perspective.

The post-structuralist perspective conceives globalization as a set of narratives which provide meaning to reality and exercise power by reframing the collective economic imagery of society on the basis of a space-time compression. The core concept of these narratives is the arrival of a post-national economy represented by three different domains: the offshore and global economy, the national economy—turning subservient of the offshore-global economy as states become competitive in serving the global economy—and the peripheral economy of socially excluded, which must be retrieved in order to take part to the competition. In this sense, globalization prescribes a new role for the state as an exclusive economic actor subject to an economic logic, rather than being capable of shaping economy from an independent point and that should therefore relate to its citizens only in economistic terms (Cameron & Palan, 2004).

3) The neo-gramscian perspective.

The neo-gramscian perspective focuses its analysis on both the structural and the ideational dimensions of globalization. The former is conceived as the emergence of a single global capitalism system and the latter as the dialectics between hegemonic (the liberal globalization based on the Ricardian free trade theory and the anti-statist individualism) and counter hegemonic ideology (the global democratization of the global movements). Drawing upon Foucauldian thought (Foucault, 1969, 1971), this perspective considers globalization as a form of intellectual power expressing through the knowledge system of neoliberal ideology and propagated by institutional authority (Rupert, 2000; Mittelman, 2004; Antoniades, 2007).

4) The sociological perspective.

This perspective is focused on the idea of globalization as a culture and a historical period (Berry, 2008). In this sense, Shaw (1994, 2000) argues that globalization concerns the production of a globalist identity, within which he saw, for instance, the development of a ‘global civil society’ against the global economic and political power. Featherstone (1995) and Albrow (1996) conceive globalization as based on the idea of world as a single space. Both Shaw (1994) and Albrow (1996) propose the idea of a global state as a more democratic way of government, in the place of the nation-state. Naim and James (2005), instead, focuses on the emergence of a neoliberal globalism, as a global market ideology. Within this fourth perspective holds a prominent place the theory of Manfred Steger (Steger, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2021; Steger & James, 2019, 2020), who conceives globalization as a new ideology of market globalism: a hegemonic ideology fostered by the global elite to legitimate their power and which represents the dominant perspective on the meaning of globalization. It is conceived as the product of globalization discourse made by neoliberalist, by associating globalization with market, in order to legitimate the notion of free trade. Through a new version of his theory, based on the concept of connectivity, Steger (2021) claims that after the planetary Covid-19 crisis globalization is not ending, but is deeply rearranging itself around a profound disjuncture between its digitalized-disembodied dimension and its embodied formations, represented by the global physical mobility of human beings, objects and institutions. And this process, he argues, contributes to explain the new forms of digital surveillance put in place by the power. This perspective on the study of globalization focuses on the role of ideas and beliefs about globalization in shaping its meaning and influencing human behavior in relation to it.

2.4. The Concept of Global Elite

The concept of global elite (Pakulski, 2015) is based on four dimensions anchored in the tradition of the elite theory and the current studies on globalization. The first is represented by the concept of global elite or superclass, which refers to a supranational group of super-rich and powerful actors, composed by the leaders of large nation states, transnational corporations and religious movements and organizations, powerful military institutions and transnational terrorist and criminal organizations (Rothkopf, 2008). The second dimension concerns the neo-Marxist dimension perspective that considers the global elite as the managerial apex of a widest transnational capitalist class, composed of leading professionals, businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats of international associations and regulative bodies, supporting the deregulation and expansion of markets (Chase-Dunn, 1998; Sklair, 2001). The third dimension refers to the Eurocrats or the Troika (the leaders of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund), who designed and imposed the austerity measures in the aftermath of the 2007/2008 global financial crisis (Pakulski, 2015). The fourth dimensions refers to the global superpowers (e.g. USA and BRICS), representing power networks cooperating in maintaining an international political order which favours their own power interests (Zakaria, 2008; Nye, 2010).

As Phillips (2018) states, a very important element for the understanding of this new form of ruling class is that “The Global Power Elite function as a nongovernmental network of similarly educated wealthy people with common interests of managing, facilitating, and protecting concentrated global wealth and insuring the continued growth of capital” (Phillips, 2018: p. 9). Furthermore, Robinson (2018) explained that it “works out policies to advance their interests with regard to the management and protection of global capital and the enforcement of debt collection worldwide in such private policymaking forums as the World Economic Forum, Trilateral Commission, Group of 30, Atlantic Council, and Bilderberg Group, and in such transnational state institutions as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G20, and Bank for International Settlements. At the same time they are strategically placed to then impose these policies through their members’ positions within individual states and transnational state institutions. Simply put, the enormous concentration of economic power translate into enormous influence over global policymaking. This relationship of economic (class) power to state power is one in which TCC issues commands to government officials” (Robinson, 2018: p. 20). The emergence of this new global elite represents “the transition from the nation state power elites described by Mills to a transnational power elite” (Phillips, 2018: p. 9). It can be considered as a “both the products of the globalisation” of the “neo-liberal capitalism” and “the evangelists for a global world. They constitute an insular moral community whose members are obliged to treat one another according to shared norms, rules, and standards that not apply to ‘outsiders’. Their sense of reciprocal obligation rests on a perceived bond of sameness and shared fates”” (Ferguson & Mansbach, 2008: p. 180). Another important feature of this group of people is that they has “no intrinsic commitment to product, to place, to country, or to type of economic activity. The commitment is to the accumulation of capital” (Wallerstein, 1996: p. 89). “They speak English, holiday at the same resorts, and live behind high walls, in secure, luxury apartment buildings, or in gated communities. Integrate in the global economy, with similar tastes and norms—whether in Caracas, New York, or Karachi—the elites has little in common with the burgeoning underclass that has grown throughout the course of massive urbanization. The horizontal boundary that separates the former from the latter in the same societies is more difficult to cross than the borders that separate members of this elite residing in different countries” (Ferguson & Mansbach, 2008: p. 180).

2.5. The Psychosocial Theory of Collusion

The theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992) represents a psychoanalytic approach to the development of the systems of social coexistence. It conceives the concept of collusion as the process of affective symbolization of a relationship within a context by the actors who participate to that relationship. The notion of affective symbolization refers to the emotional representation of reality (Freud, 1900; Fornari, 1975; Matte Blanco, 1975) and thus collusion represents a process of socializations of emotions about social shared contexts of reality, which founds and organizes social relationships and coexistence (SPS, 2022). It drives the behavior of social actors by shaping the construction of shared meanings of social life through discursive processes (Carli & Paniccia, 2002). Within this theoretical model the concept of social coexistence is conceived as based on the relationships between systems of belonging and stranger, mediated by rules of the game. In this perspective, the concept of system of belonging represents a symbolic way of organizing relationships and not a physical condition, a way of symbolizing relationships exclusively on the basis of emotions, without a product; only for the sense of protection and security provided by being inside a group or relational context and not outside, regardless of the productive reason for staying inside it. The stranger is who stays outside, the one who represents the unknown, the unpredictable, the risk and the danger. But at the same time he represents an important resource for the development of social relationships. Without the encounter with the diversity of the stranger, systems of belonging would entropically perish, within the predictable repetitiveness of the already known (Carli, 2000). Social coexistence arises from the encounter and exploration of the stranger. For this process to be productive, it needs to be mediated by proper rules of the game, intended not as strict rules, but as negotiable among the parts. This symbolic process of construction of the social coexistence is conceived by Carli and Paniccia as based on two basic emotional modalities of social relationship: the possession of the other and the exchange with him (Carli, 2020b; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003; Petitta & Ghezzi, 2012). The former modality can assume the different forms of the relational dynamics of claiming, controlling, distrusting, provoking, obliging, complaining and worrying, according to the model of neo-emotions elaborated by Carli and Paniccia (Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003; Petitta & Ghezzi, 2012). Within the context of the theory of collusion the Emotional Text Analysis (ETA) (Carli et al., 2016; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2007) has been elaborated as a methodology of discourse analysis aimed at identify the collusive processes that found social coexistence. Through this theoretical perspective, the present work aims at contributing to the understanding of the dynamics of power, by focusing on the emotions that organize the relationships of power and thus on the roots of the dominant-dominated scheme. In this sense these emotions could represent the emotional reasons for which dominated accept their condition, in line with the concept of secondary gain proposed by Freud for the neurosis, referring to the interpersonal or social advantages attained by the patient as a consequence of his illness (Freud, 1901, 1991).

3. Methodological Framework

The methodological framework of the research reported in this paper is based on a research design articulated in seven parts:

1) Research problem,

2) Research goals,

3) Research questions,

4) Literature review,

5) Research hypotheses,

6) Data description,

7) Analysis method.

1) The research problem

The current form of global governance, based on an even broader influence of the new emerging global elite (Galli & Caligiuri, 2017; Pakulski, 2015; Phillips, 2018; Rothkopf, 2008; Robinson, 2018; Sklair, 2001) is not leading, as promised (WEF, 2022), to an improvement of the human condition on earth (Berry, 2008; Buxton, 2016; Galli & Caligiuri, 2017; George, 2010; Goldin, 2013; Hay, 2014, 2018; Marshall, 2015; Mordillat & Bertrand, 2010; Phillips, 2018; Robinson, 2018; Rothkopf, 2008), but instead the world is facing a deep crisis in terms of democracy, justice, equity, health, environment quality, culture, creativity, spirituality, and more in general of the collective ability to cooperate to the development of human condition. Consequently, the question of how to contribute to change for improving this state of affairs arose. Seen from the psychosocial perspective of the theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992), this issues brings to the question of how to improve the relationship between the global elite and the rest of the mankind on the planet? From a clinical psychological perspective (Carli, 1987, 2020c; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2003, 2014; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997), to understand the meaning of this state of affairs, the interaction between psychological and social dimensions at play in it become crucial, in order to identify possible strategies of intervention for change and improve it, that is understand why the elites are oriented in this way towards their relationship with the rest of the mankind, with the main purpose of seeking wealth, power and success. In this perspective, in fact, relational and emotional factors represent the main drivers of social action.

2) Research goals

On the basis of the definition of the research problem two research goals were identified:

· Identify the collusive dynamics which orientate the political action of the global elite

· Define possible strategies of intervention aimed at the development of these collusive dynamics to improve them in the direction a productive social coexistence.

3) Research questions

On the basis of these research goals three research questions emerged:

· What are the collusive dynamics which drives the political action of the Davos elite?

· How to investigate these collusive dynamics?

· What improvement strategies can be identified for the collusive dynamics emerging from the research?

4) Literature review

The literature review, widely described above in the presentation of the theoretical framework of the research, allowed to define the perspective of analysis of the research problem, represented by the theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992), within the wider paradigmatic framework represented by the psychological and sociological theories focused on the role of intersubjective interpretation of reality and sense-making as the main drivers of social actors (Blumer, 1969; Mead, 1934; Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Gergen, 2015; von Glasersfeld, 1995; Harré, 2002; Searle, 1995; Farr & Moscovici, 1984; Matte Blanco, 1975) and provided a big picture of the state of interdisciplinary studies on power, in relation to the focus on its relational and emotional dimensions (Arendt, 1958; Barus-Michel et al., 2005; Blau, 1964; Dahl, 1957; Fairclough, 2014; Guerrero, et al. 2011; Lukes, 2021; McClelland, 1958; Panebianco, 2004; Sorrentino, 2008; Zolo, 1992), in the interpretative perspective in the field of globalization studies (Hay, 1997, 2002, 2014, 2018; Hay & Marsh, 2000; Hay & Rosamond, 2002; Hay & Watson, 1998; Steger, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2021; Steger & James, 2019, 2020), as well as the contextualization of the emerging notion of global elite (Galli & Caligiuri, 2017; Pakulski, 2015; Phillips, 2018; Robinson, 2018; Rothkopf, 2008; Sklair, 2001; Wallerstein, 1996) within the wider symbolic framework of globalization from which it arose.

5) Hypotheses

On the basis of the psychological theoretical model of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia 1992), in relation to the literature review on the topic of this research, the following hypotheses emerged:

· Since the Emotional Text Analysis (ETA) methodology allows to identify the collusive dynamics characterizing specific relational contexts through the analysis of discourses, it can be useful to focus this research on the discourses of global elite,

· The main discourse of global elite on which could be useful to focus the research, in relation to its research goals, is the discourse of globalization, considered as the symbolic context from which the new global elite arises and thrives, the symbolic framework through which it emotionally symbolizes reality,

· The identification and interpretation of the collusive dynamics underlying the political action of the Davos elite make possible identify strategies of intervention aimed at their development, in order to promote a productive social coexistence which allows to improve the collective condition of the humankind on earth.

6) Data description

The research was conducted on a corpus of texts composed of interviews, statements, articles, speeches and other text documents of the members of the World Economic Forum’s Board of Trustees of 2015, gathered through keywords search on the Google search engine, for the period of time 2000-2015. The World Economic Forum’s Board of Trustees of 2015 was composed by the following members, indicated by principal position held (Occupy, 2015):

· Chairman of the Board, Nestlé, Switzerland; Chairman and Managing, Director, Reliance Industries, India;

· Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alcoa, USA;

· Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC;

· Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo, USA;

· Founder, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum;

· Director, Global Security Research Institute, Keio University, Japan;

· Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group, People's Republic of China;

· Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Sberbank, Russian Federation;

· Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University, USA;

· Governor of the Bank of England;

· President, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington DC;

· Visiting Scholar, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore;

· Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong SAR;

· Secretary-General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD);

· President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA;

· Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered, United Kingdom;

· Chairman, Bain & Company, USA;

· Chairman, Centre for Global Industries (WEF grouping);

· Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault-Nissan Alliance, France;

· Accel Partners, USA;

· Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, Washington DC;

· President, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland;

· President, African Development Bank (AfDB);

· Queen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan;

· President, International Committee of the Red Cross, Switzerland.

7) Method of analysis

The research was conducted through the methodology of the Emotional Text Analysis (ETA) (Carli et al., 2016; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2007), based on the psychosocial theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2014; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992) and the statistical techniques of lexicometric analysis (Benzécri, 1981; Benzécri & Benzécri, 1984; Bolasco, 1999, 2013; Chiari, 2007; Cipriani & Bolasco, 1995; Giuliano & La Rocca, 2008, 2010; Hoffman & Waisanen, 2015; Lancia, 2004, 2012, 2020; Lebart et al., 2003; Lebart & Salem, 1998; Reinert, 1993; Rochira et al., 2020). Furthermore, this methodology refers to the principle of the double reference of language (Fornari, 1979), on the basis of which every linguistic act refers both to a cognitive dimension of meaning and to its possible symbolic-affective connotations. In this sense, texts and discourses produced within a given context on a specific topic express the way in which the processes of emotional representation of reality linked to it are communicated, that is, translated into words. The analysis is conducted on a corpus of texts produced by a group of subjects belonging to a specific context, according to the objectives of the investigation through the multivariate statistical techniques of multiple correspondence analysis and cluster analysis (Benzécri, 1981; Benzécri & Benzécri, 1984; Bolasco, 1999, 2013; Chiari, 2007; Lebart et al., 2003; Lebart & Salem, 1998) and the interpretation of results through a set of psychosocial interpretative models of relationships proposed by Carli and Paniccia (2002) according to three dimensions: the symbolization of the body in the space, the relationship with the other according to the modalitis of possession or exchange and a set of patterns that guide social relations in organized groups. The first dimension refers to the symbolic meaning of the three polarities inside-outside, front-back and high-low, referring to the dimensions of belonging, strangeness, appearance/reality, true/false and power. The second dimension is articulated in the relational modes of claiming, controlling, provoking, obliging, distrusting, complaining and worrying, which represents the possible declinations of the relational orientation to possess the other. The third area refers to the polarities of fulfillment/objectives, given organization/constructed organization, substitutive function/integrative function, and social mandate/commissioning. The analysis involves several stages of text processing and interpretation: a first stage relative to the preparation of the texts for the statistical analysis, through the procedures of disambiguation, identification of polyrematics, lemmatization and selection of the dense words, in order to identify the verbal forms to analyze; a second stage represented by the statistical analysis of the selected words and a third stage represented by the psychological interpretation of the collusive process expressed by the relationships among the dense words composing each of the cluster emerging from the statistical analysis and the relationships among clusters. The dense words represent those words capable of evoking emotions regardless of their location in the narrative structure of the text (e.g. money, competition, success, built, debt, finance, crisis), while are excluded by the analysis conjunctions, adverbs and verbs with ambiguous meaning (e.g. go, take, say, carry). The statistical processing of data produces the clusters of dense words by reorganizing the structure of the textual corpus, through the analysis of the co-occurrences of dense words, within segments of text (the context units) in which the corpus is subdivided. The interpretation of the symbolic dynamics emerging from the interactions among dense words within and among clusters allows identifying the collusive process that characterizes the text under analysis. This process is based on the hypothesis that language production is closely related to the processes of shared affective symbolization of reality and that there is a similar isomorphism between these latter and the way through which dense words of a specific text result organized in the cluster emerging by the statistical analysis (Carli & Paniccia, 2002).

This type of methodology represents an exploratory approach, aimed at identifying new hypotheses rather than testing already defined hypotheses. Its results aim to produce interpretative models of the social phenomenon under examination, according to the logic of grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), a method for the development of theories in the psychosocial field of abductive type (Frixione, 2007), which is based on an iterative process of comparison between data and interpretative hypotheses, along a progressive path of generalization and abstraction. The results thus obtained are proposed as interpretative hypothesis on the basis of which open confrontations and debates to identify possible strategies for the development of the phenomenon under examination (Cipriani & Bolasco, 1995; Trobia, 2005).

The statistical analysis was performed with the software T-Lab (Cortini & Tria, 2014; Lancia, 2004, 2012, 2020; Margola & Esposito, 2008) on a corpus of texts composed of 171054 words and the etymological analysis of dense words was made with the Online Etymology Dictionary, available at the internet page

4. Results

The statistical analysis of the text provided the following output:

· The position of the clusters on the factorial space,

· The relationships between context units and clusters,

· The relationships between clusters and factors,

· The list of dense words composing each cluster,

· The relationships between texts and clusters.

Each cluster was then analyzed according to the etymological meaning of the single words composing it and to the co-occurrences among them. Afterward a psychosocial analysis was conducted on each cluster and on the interaction among them, through the set of relational and organizational psychosocial interpretative models elaborated by Carli and Paniccia (2002) within the context of the theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2014; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992). Finally, development hypotheses and possible intervention strategies was identified.

4.1. Position of the Cluster on the Factorial Space

The symbolic representation of the globalization of the Davos elite emerging from the research results composed of four symbolic dimensions, corresponding to the clusters of dense words obtained through the statistical analysis of texts. These clusters result distributed in the factorial space as showed in Figure 1.

4.2. Relationships between Context Units and Clusters

Each cluster represents a different part of the context units, that are fixed chunks of text that divide the total body of the corpus of texts submitted to analysis, as shown in Table 1. The first cluster represents over the half of the context units, while each other clusters only minor parts of them.

4.3. Relationships between Clusters and Factors

The four clusters are positioned on the three factors as described in Table 2. Values shown in bold indicate the position of clusters to the factors. Cluster 4 is

Figure 1. Position of the clusters on the factorial space.

Table 1. Distribution of the context units per cluster.

Table 2. Distribution of the clusters on the factorial axes.

placed at the positive pole of the factor 1 (horizontal axis), cluster 1 and cluster 2 are placed on the factor 2 (vertical axis), respectively at the positive and negative pole, cluster 3 is positioned at the positive pole of the factor 3 (perpendicular axis to the plan created by the first two factorial axes).

4.4. Composition of the Cluster

In this paragraph are indicated the dense words that compose each cluster.

1) Cluster one

The cluster number one is composed of the following dense words: people, believe, world, grow, impact, young people, engineer, think, history, ready, life, power, accelerate, successful, population, transform, perspective, industry, bring, imagine, convergence, cut, threat, explain, give up, honour, speak, promise, group, right.

2) Cluster two

The cluster number two gathers the following dense words: hope, big, price, stress, European countries, pay, inflation, lower, drop, high, growth, strong, reform, AfDB (African Development Bank), push, value, achieve, Greece, good, expect, fall, trade, IMF (International Monetary Fund), minimum level, shock, Africa, service, Human Genome Project, protect, policy, interest, GDP, economy.

3) Cluster three

The cluster number three results composed of the following dense words: project, strengthen, invest, budget, fund, manage, provide, need, advantage, competition, tax, fail, boost, cope, employee, prepare, forecast, freedom, rule, know, crisis, solve, best, woman, raise, access, reform.

4) Cluster four

The cluster number four is constituted by the following dense words: IDB (InterAmerican Development Bank), member countries, sure, respect, IDB Group (InterAmerican Development Bank Group), establish, make decisions, impact-investors, Latin America & Caribbean, decision, understand, benefit, know, promote, tool, making money, Region, allow, have to, implement, investor, finance, impact-investing, provide, project, strengthen, seek, vis à vis, CEO, adopt, approve, full, crisis, ensure.

In Figures 2-4 are shown the dense words composing the clusters obtained by

Figure 2. Dense words composing the cluster 4, on the first factor.

Figure 3. Dense words composing the clusters 1 and 2, on the second factor.

the statistical data analysis, subdivided for the factor of belonging. On the same line are shown the dense words with the same value of chi-squared.

4.5. Relationships between Texts and Clusters

The texts of each member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees contributed in different measure to the composition of the clusters of dense words, as shown in Figure 5. For each cluster, the key contributors can be identified as follows: the president emerita and professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the chairman and chief executive officer of First Eastern Investment Group and the chairman of the

Figure 4. Dense words composing the cluster 3, on the third factor.

Figure 5. The main contributors to each cluster.

Centre for Global Industries WEF for cluster 1; the president of African Development Bank, the governor of Bank of England, the managing director and the deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for cluster 2; the chairman of Bain & Co. and the chairman and chief executive officer of Sberbank for cluster 3; the president of Inter-American Development Bank and the chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan Alliance for cluster 4.

4.6. Symbolic Analysis of the Clusters

A first level of analysis of the meaning of the clusters focused on the etymological meaning of the dense words composing each cluster and the co-occurrences among them, as emerged from the statistical analysis of the corpus of texts under examination.

1) Cluster one.

The cluster number one seems to refer to a conceptual system of beliefs which should orient the meaning of life in the globalization age for the Davos elite, as a premise for the maintenance of its power. It is characterized by the following symbolic dimensions:

· a negative representation of the other, as a featureless anonymous mass of persons acting solely on the basis of emotional factors—such as believing in someone or something—and that seem to be conceived as opposed to rational ones (in relation to the etymological meaning of the dense words people and believe) (Le Bon, 1895);

· the proposition of three main symbolic frames for the attribution of meaning to life experiences in the globalization age, represented by the dense words world, time and grow and expressing three of the main dogmas of the new ideology of globalization: the idea of the whole world as a single place, the acceleration of time and the economic growth (Berry, 2008; Steger, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2021; Steger & James, 2019, 2020);

· the role of a form of thought and knowledge based on a technocratic approach oriented to impact people’s life—especially that of young people and thus taking possession of them through the proposition of models of life based on readiness, success and power, with the consequent transformation of their perception of reality (from the interactions among the dense words engineer, impact, young people, think, history, ready, life, accelerate, power, successful, population, transform, perspective, industry, bring and image) (Fromm, 1968; Postman, 1993; Stiegler, 2016, 2019);

· the promotion of a ‘pensée unique’, a mainstream ideological conformism, through the means of the rhetoric of promises and honor, as the respect of the constituted order, aimed at regrouping and keeping together things and persons for similarity, thus eliminating any divergent position which could threat the status quo (in relation to the meaning of the dense words convergence, cut, threat, explain, give up, speak, promise, group) (Chardon & Lensel, 1998; Hay & Watson, 1998; Kahn, 1992 2000; Mordillat & Bertrand, 2011; Postman, 1985; Steger, 2005, 2008);

· the proposition of the symbolic elements present in this cluster as the reference to a dogmatic system of values to respect, the morally correct way of doing in the age of globalization (according to the etymological meaning of the dense word right) (Berry, 2008; Hay & Watson, 1998; Steger, 2002).

2) Cluster two

The symbolic dimension expressed by the cluster number two appears focused on a manipulative way of organizing and managing social systems, on the basis of the following elements:

· the construction of a messianic expectation (as a metaphor of the come of the savior messiah in the Judaic tradition) and, thus, of a passive and dependent approach to the dimension of bigness, here represented by the international financial institutions (such as the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund) and the big science approach of projects like the Human Genome Project (in relation to the meaning of the dense words hope, expect, good, big, strong, high, AfDB, IMF, Human Genome Project) (Bion, 1961; Carli & Paniccia, 2002; Steger, 2013; Stiglitz, 2002);

· the proposition, as inevitable and necessary, of the negative consequences of the international financial institutions’ messianic intervention represented as the risk of failing in the pursuit of the growth and strength based ideal of development, expressed by the threat of inflation and the imposition of living conditions to the limits of survival (e.g. the Greek default crisis of 2015), which put under stress the European countries (in relation to the meaning of the dense words stress, European countries, pay, inflation, lower, drop, Greece, minimum level, shock) (Carli & Paniccia, 2011; Hay & Watson, 1998; Steger, 2013);

· the predominance of the economic factor in determining public policies, under the dogma of free market and personal gain, according to the meanings suggested by the interactions among the dense words economy,policy, interest, GDP, price and growth (Carli & Paniccia, 2011; Hay, 1997, 2002; Hay & Marsh, 2000; Steger, 2002, 2005).

3) Cluster three

The symbolic dimension represented by the cluster number three revolves around the idea of competition as one of the main drivers of social life and the conditions to pursue it, on the basis of the following elements:

· The idea of competition as a fight for wealth, to win through the ability to make money by money, thus resulting the best (in relation to the interactions among the meaning of the dense words best, invest, budget, fund, manage and provide) (Carli & Paniccia, 2011);

· a warped view of competition based on the search for conditions of privilege and their improvement in order to successfully compete (in relation to the meaning of the dense words advantage, competition, boost, strengthen and raise) (Carli, 2000, 2020b; Carli & Paniccia, 2002);

· a concept of freedom conceived as the absence of restraints to one’s expansion—such as taxes or other elements that can cause to fail—through the widest satisfaction of one’s needs, (in relation to the dense words tax, need, freedom, fail) (Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003);

· the key importance of cognitive tools concerning capacities like perceiving, distinguishing, choosing and establishing in the pursuit of the ideal of success expressed by this cluster (in relation to the dense words know, crisis, solve, forecast and cope) (Burks et al., 2009; Altinok & Aydemir, 2017; Hanushek & Woessmann, 2008; Schotanus, 2022);

· the increasingly relevant role of women in participating to the spread of the value of competition through a wide inclusion in the global economic processes (in relation to the dense words women, access, reform) (Duflo, 2012; Grantham et al., 2021).

4) Cluster four

The symbolic dimension expressed by the cluster number four results based on the main role of finance in the organization of human life, articulated in the following elements:

· the role of supranational finance institutions (e.g. InterAmerican Development Bank Group) in producing a new sort of colonialism through the form of development aid, based on providing sureness (psychological, other than economic) through financings, in exchange for the gradual expropriation of the local political and economic power (in relation to the interactions among the dense words IDB, IDB Group, member countries, Latin America & Caribbean, sure, ensure, respect, strengthen and Region) (Hay, 2014, 2018; Magnaghi, 2010; Steger, 2002);

· the role of finance as the dominant model to organize life and the main strategy to solve contemporary socio-economic and environmental problems through the provision of financial resources, which represents a way—through the symbolic role of money—to build relationships based on the transformation of the other in a dependent debtor, with ever less decisional power (in relation to the dense words finance,investor, making-money and crisis) (Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2011);

· the effects of innovative financing schemes, such as impact investment, which, despite being aimed at generating social benefit (alongside financial returns), actually becomes a way for taking possession of the last remaining fields of public intervention such as welfare, health, education and energy (in relation to the dense words impact-investors, impact-investing, project, promote andtool)(Agrawal & Hockerts, 2021; Bugg-Levine & Goldstein, 2009; Cavallito et al., 2017);

· the crucial role of CEOs in making decision for the development of their businesses, through relational and cognitive skills (in relation to the dense words CEO, decision, make decisions, establish, understand, seek, vis à vis, adopt, approve and provide) (Burks et al., 2009; Altinok & Aydemir, 2017; Hanushek & Woessmann, 2008; Schotanus, 2022; Steger, 2013).

4.7. Psychosocial Analysis of the Clusters

The interpretation of the meaning of the clusters, performed through the set of social relations models proposed by Carli and Paniccia within the framework of the theory of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006a, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992), allowed to identity the characteristics of the psychosocial dimensions of the representation that the Davos elite has of globalization and the socio-organizational dynamics that these dimensions produce at social, economic and political.

The main common feature that links all the psychosocial dimensions emerging from this analysis is the lack of democracy in the decision-making processes, which manifests itself both at relational and organizational level. At relational level, this is expressed by specific patterns of the emotional and motivational dynamics that drive social interaction.

The specific emotional pattern has been detected through the psychological model of neo-emotions (Carli, 2020b, 2020c, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2012, 2014) which is based on the identification of two possible forms of social interaction: one oriented to the creative and productive exchange with the other, which eases the development of the systems of social coexistence, and one aimed to possess the other through different forms of emotional dynamics represented by claiming, controlling, distrusting, provoking, obligating, complaining and worrying, which instead obstacles the development of the systems of social coexistence. The specific emotional pattern arising from this analysis is characterized by the following elements:

· the claim of imposing a specific dogmatic vision of reality, based on the use of the word people (that etymologically can refer to an unreliable and emotions driven mass and so, for instance, easily influenceable) in relation to dense words like global, growth, technology, believe, power, acceleration, big, success, honor, respect, rightness, hope, strength, finance, investment, competition, freedom, deregulation and crisis, which refers to elements that can have an important role in shaping the sense of life and driving human action (Carli, 2001, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012);

· the provocation expressed by this claim, in terms of legitimation of the negative effects implicit to this vision of things, represented by the risk of the prevail of a pensée unique, the loss of local political and economic power related to the international financial institutions’ intervention, the predominance of a financial logic in the management of socio-economic and political issues and of an ever more deregulated economic competition (Berry, 2008; Carli, 2001, 2020a, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2011, 2012; Hay, 2014, 2018; Steger, 2018);

· the fulfilment control of the obligations deriving from this kind of life’s organization, in terms of conditioned choices and difficulty to think alternative opportunities of action (e.g. the possibility of alternative visions of development and of socio-economic and political problem-solving approaches alternative to the predominant financial ones (Carli, 2001, 2020a; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2011; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Hay & Watson, 1998; Steger, 2002);

· the worries and complaints against limits and rules perceived as constraints to the global elite’s desired expansion of power, expressed by the interactions among the dense words advantage, competition, tax, freedom and rule (Berry, 2008; Carli, 2001, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003; Steger, 2005, 2021).

These emotional dynamics reveal an approach to social relations oriented to possess the other rather than to a productive and creative exchange with him. This can be read as an expression of a fear towards the other and its unpredictable unknown diversity, represented for instance by its possible behaviors not compliant with one’s expectations (not necessarily hostile ones), and thus threatening the possibility of automating controlling the relationships with him. The orientation to the relationship with the other as a productive and creative exchange, instead, requires a greater involvement in the relationship with him and a better relational competence to interact on the basis of reciprocal needs and expectations (Carli, 2000, 2001, 2020b, 2021; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012). To this regard, for instance, we can think to the possibility of seeking for alternative strategies to the intervention of financial institutions like IMF in the case of debt crisis and to the use of financial instruments like impact-investment to face socio-economic or environmental problems (e.g. making recourse to different problem-solving strategies based on bottom-up methods of participatory local community development) as well as to the reaction that this could produce in the upholder of the status quo. This relational orientation to possess the other can arise from a representation of him as enemy, which can lead to attempt to transform him into a taken for granted well-known friend, assimilated to one’s own categories, in the effort of eliminating his unpredictability and the risk of his possible manifestations of dangerousness. This, however, inevitably implies denying differences and thus missing the opportunities they offer (Carli, 2020b, 2021; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003).

The motivational pattern has been detected under the McClelland’s human motivation theory (McClelland, 1958, 1987), that is based on three main motivational factors to social relations: the needs for power, which is oriented to control and influence the other; the need for affiliation, which is oriented to belong to a group, developing positive affective relationships inside it; the need for achievement, which is oriented to accomplish goals. It this case the motivational pattern seems characterized by the prevalence of the need for power, as dominant social motivation, that articulates itself into three dimensions:

1) a hierarchical pattern that that dichotomically opposes elite and people, big institutions and who hopes in them, CEOs and employees, backers and recipients;

2) a polar dynamic that opposes belonging to and be excluded from the system of power based on the affective dependency of the other (also expression of the motivational need for affiliation) induced by the logic of financial support to development programs;

3) a manipulative dynamic based on the contraposition between appearance and reality, true and false, as evidenced by the contrast between the positive image of development assistance policies and the expropriation of local political and economic powers produced by its exclusively financial logic.

As far as concerns the organizational level, the lack of democracy reveals itself in a dogmatic a priori conception of the international (supranational) financial institutions system (here exemplified by IMF, AfDB and IDB), which looks like grounded in an unquestionable mythical dimension that put it out of time and contexts and hence appears as immutable and little inclined to change and improvement. The foundation myth of this system can be traced back to the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944, which laid the foundations of the current age of globalization by defining the monetary and financial basis of development of the international trade liberalization (Hay & Marsh, 2000; Steger, 2013; Stiglitz, 2002) and that represents one of the few points of general consensus upon which the current system of global social coexistence was based, in terms of a new social order of peace and prosperity, after world war II and the economic crisis of 1929. The functioning of these supranational organizations seems, indeed, to be almost exclusively based on the following elements:

· the social mandate provided by the respect of socially grounded systems of values compliant with the ends of these organizations; a sort of social obligation to turn to them to face development and public debt problems, which is based on the general belief (strictly linked to the myth of Bretton Woods) that this is the natural and right way to do, just like one turns to a doctor when he’s ill, as the only way of acting thought possible (Carli & Paniccia, 2002; Hay & Marsh, 2000; Steger, 2002);

· the expected compliance to their self-referentially defined rules of service delivery, regardless of the specific needs, demand and commissioning of their beneficiaries (Carli & Paniccia, 2002);

· the substitutive function by them played in their interventions, on the basis of a technocratic spirit by virtue of which technicians (the experts) substitute themselves to the users of their services (i.e. the recipient countries of their financings), expropriating these latter of their own political and economic decisional power, instead of supporting them in autonomously producing endogenous, self-determined, self-ruled and self-sustainable pathways of local development (Carli & Paniccia, 2002; Magnaghi, 2010);

· the transformation of their beneficiaries from active/autonomous subjects, with specific needs, desires, goals and expected products and outputs, to passive and dependent users of their own self-referential procedures (Carli, 2001; Carli & Paniccia, 2002).

In this way these organizations operate without a real commission and demand of service from their beneficiaries, thus not addressing nor being held accountable for the needs, expectations and goals of these latter and for the efficacy of the services they provide to them.

4.8. Hypothesis of Development

On the basis of these results some strategies of intervention have been identified in order to improve the collusive dynamics emerged from the analysis. The implementation of these strategies, however, requires an active and accountable involvement of all the global elite’s counterparts, such as people, when acting as active and accountable citizens, and their civil organizations; but also politicians and governments, when acting as effective political representatives at the service of citizens and communities.

The main goal to be pursued at relational level concerns the real participative definition, sharing and implementation of new rules of the game for social coexistence that allow to reorganize in a productive way the relationship between its two components: systems of belongings and strangers (Carli, 2000, 2001, 2020b, 2021; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014). At this level, the present research has detected the centrality of a fantasy of possession of the other as a strategy of defense against the potential dangerousness of the other, through a sort of preventive ‘war’ aimed at preventing and controlling any his behavior, up to define his own identity, desires and thoughts (Foucault, 1977, 1978, 1994; Sorrentino, 2008); thus wasting the opportunity to see the other as a resource for mutual development. In this regard it should be understood, through further researches, if also citizen and local organizations and communities share—and in which modalities—the same kind of relational models and fantasies emerged from the present research, in order to identify concrete examples of alternative ways of representing social relations, oriented toward the logic of productive exchange with the other to develop.

To pursue this goal requires to configure the other no longer as an enemy or a well-known friend, but as an unknown friend to know in a relationship of mutual productive exchange, aimed at the common good. At the same time this allows to free the production of goods and services from the self-referential end of profit (for the upper class) and surviving (for the middle and low classes), by developing a new ethic of productive cooperative doing. This model of social relations allows to unleash one’s creative power of doing, as power-to (Pansardi, 2018; Pansardi & Bindi, 2021), avoiding the risk of transforming one’s creative impotence into forms of power over someone or something, acted by influencing them to do what one probably feels not able or capable to do by oneself. To start this kind of change involves interventions at several levels. At an individual level, this requires the exploration and awareness of one’s own relational models to develop them in a productive exchange oriented way. At a collective level this entails a shared action to develop a new sort of class consciousness (Arendt, 1958; Marx, 1996; Levine, 2006) founded on a dimension of critical citizenship (Mann, 1987; Oldfield, 1998; Putnam, 1993; Rawls, 1985; Shafir, 1998), which allows to emancipate from the uncritical condition of consumers and to improve the collective ability of reinvigorate social justice and democracy (Almagisti, 2008; Alonso et al., 2012; Cavaletto et al., 2020; Dickson, 2014; Smith, 2009; Walzer, 2019) through the increase of forms of participatory democracy (Allegretti, 2010; Bobbio, 2013; Dryzek, 2006; Elster, 1998; Fischer, 1993) and a more aware and active role in commissioning politics to represent them (Plotke, 1997; Walzer, 2019), as well as evaluating its work in the perspective of the productive development of social coexistence. At the same time another important level of action concerns the role of the ever more concentrated culture industry (Adorno, 1991; Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002; Galli & Caligiuri, 2017; Phillips, 2018) which operate as a means of spreading ideas and values of the power elites (Herman & Chomsky, 2002; Postman, 1985), towards which two kind of action can be implemented: the claim for an active role in commissioning and evaluating its services and the development of practices of shared cultural production from below (Davis, 2008; Hetherington, 1998; Rimstead & Beneventi, 2019; Sassateli et al., 2009; Thornton, 1995).

Regarding the motivation to power as main driver of social relationships, the passage from a relational model based on the power over the other—linked to the need of possessing him to control his possible dangerousness—to one oriented to the productive exchange with him—connected to the representation of the relationship with him as a reciprocal opportunity—allows to by-pass the hierarchical model of relationship with the other, by focusing on goals and products of the relationship with him and on the development of the competencies necessary to pursue them effectively, such for instance the capacity of dialogically interact with the other in order to understand his needs, expectations, values, desires and goals, to communicate to make understand the own ones and to negotiate to produce something reciprocally valuable. Consequently, also the dynamics of belonging, prevalently grounded in the self-referred emotions of power and affiliation—that bring to control the other and to make him dependent—can evolve, moving from the possessing of the other to the exchanging with him. As a result, also the manipulative forms of power can be contrasted, (such as the current forms of international development assistance that lead to the expropriation of local power), since the power becomes shifted towards the more creative construction of the common good.

At organizational level, the main objective of development concerns the passage from a compliance based logic of action to an approach based on commonly agreed goals and products, regarded as means of verification of the effectiveness of social action. This would consent to move from an organizational functioning of the supranational financial institutions entirely grounded in the social mandate without any real demand by their recipients nor product socially evaluable in terms of common goods—to one driven by the demand of products and services verifiable by their recipients, on the basis of the needs and goals of these latter. As a result, the recipients of the supranational financial institutions’ intervention could increase their active role in the relation with the technical function of these latter, which hence could be oriented to integrate the recipients’ decisional power, facilitating the development of their competences in the autonomous achievement of their own goals. This requires questioning—in ever more dialectical and argumentative ways—the dogma of the economic development vision proposed by the global elite and to work on the definition and implementation of alternative hypothesis and models to pursue what the economic historian Karl Polanyi named the ‘substantive function of economy’ (Polanyi, 1944): the interchange between man and its natural and social environment to the aim of providing the material means to satisfy human’s needs, in contraposition to its formal function of searching for the maximum individual profit, attributed to it by the economic science on the basis of the paradigm of rational choice, proposed as a universal (economic) law. But Polanyi argued, on the basis of his studies of economic history in the first half of the last century, that this law solely represents the specific historical and socio-cultural reality of the market capitalistic economy (which moreover looked as an anomaly in the history of economy), produced by social motivations and meaning that actors attribute to it, on the basis of on a utilitarian conception of human action. He sustained that the economy is embedded into a social reality of relationships and shared meanings through which it is shaped (Polanyi, 1944). According to the sociologists Berger and Luckmann (1966), it can be conceived as a social construction and as such—by the same way—can be changed and improved. Thus becomes fundamental culturally act to re-embed economy into its social context, in order to support the process of change here proposed. This also means to question the mythical ground of the supranational financial institutions’ architecture represented in this study by International Monetary Fund (IMF) and development banks: the myth of Bretton Woods (Hay & Marsh, 2000; Steger, 2013; Stiglitz, 2002), which founded the currently ongoing global political economic order and system of coexistence on the basis of capitalism and market globalization process, that however looks to be no longer effective in dealing with the current challenges to social coexistence posed exactly by the same globalization that it contributed to boost. It would, thus, be necessary to propose a new deliberative stage for the foundation of a new social covenant with the real participation of all the concerned parties—not only the elites—on the basis of a new key rationale for the construction of a pacific and productive social coexistence, not only rooted in economic logics.

Finally, in order to push this process of change of the Davos elite’s organizational culture, it would be necessary that the beneficiaries of the international financial institutions change their attitude toward them, acting as commissioning party requesting services from these organizations on the basis of their specific needs, goals and expected products, in relation to possible specific endogenous pathways of development. These needs, goals and expected products represent, indeed, verification means by which to assess the effectiveness of these organizations in fulfilling their proposed aims and to promote change and improvement of their ways of functioning. By this way it’s possible to produce a transition from the mythical image of these organizations—which appears grounded in the Bretton Woods’ myth—to one oriented to answer to the reality’s demand of people and social systems. This latter way of acting is based on the psychoanalytic principle of reality (Freud, 1933, 1991), which expresses the ability to act on the basis of an assessment of the external reality of the world, in contraposition to the pleasure principle (Freud, 1933, 1991)—which seems to rule the current functioning of these organizations—that is oriented instead to the satisfaction of biological and psychological instinctual needs, with a focus on the internal reality. The precondition to advance in this direction is the change of the social image of the elite’s counterpart by overcoming the negative connotation attributed by the elite referring to them as people, term that is etymologically related to that of plebs, referring to the contraposition between plebeian (the low social level) and patrician (the higher social level) in the ancient Rome. This change can be pursued by recuperating the sense of the Greek word demos (Abizadeh, 2012; Cammack, 2019; Clarke & Foweraker, 2001; Dahl, 1970, 1989; Goodin, 2007; Koenig-Archibugi, 2012; Saunders, 2012; Schumpeter, 1942; Valentini, 2014), referring to the democratic governing power of citizens. Thus reconfigured in these terms, the elite’s counterpart can regain decisional and self-ruling autonomy and boost bottom-up democratization of government political systems (Almagisti, 2008; Alonso et al., 2012; Cavaletto et al., 2020; Dickson, 2014; Smith, 2009; Walzer, 2019)—in terms of both participative (Allegretti, 2010; Bobbio, 2013; Dryzek, 2006; Elster, 1998; Fischer, 1993) and representative democracy them (Plotke, 1997; Walzer, 2019), in a perspective of a collective and shared construction of the common future. This entails recovering the sense of public good, or common good, or public interest, which concerns a collectivity as a whole and the sharing within communities, in contrast to the private good or private interest, which instead refers to an exclusive possession, that moreover deprives someone of something (Downs, 1962; Held, 1970; Johnston, 2017; Ho, 2012; Rawls, 1971). The pursuit of this process of cultural transformation requires the development of specific competences useful to the development of an active and aware citizenship (Mann, 1987; Oldfield, 1998; Putnam, 1993; Rawls, 1985; Shafir, 1998) and to the more general goal of orienting relationship to the exchange with the other. This can become, for instance, the goal and the product on which to rebuild the sense of the social purpose of public education and of its productive efficacy (Carli, 2001, 2006b; Michelli & Keiser, 2005; Popkewitz & Fendler, 1999; Postman & Weingartner, 1969; Postman, 1979, 1995; Sibbett, 2016; Veugelers, 2017; Veugelers & Schuitema, 2012), which also have been heavily undermined by globalization.

5. Conclusion

The results of this research show that the collusive dynamics that organize the relationship of the Davos elite with the globalization are based on three emotional symbolizations: the orientation to possess the other, as prevalent relational model (Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003), the need for power, as dominant social motivation (McClelland, 1958, 1987) and a mythical and self-referential conception of supranational financial institutions, which allows them to operate without a real commission, nor evaluation of efficacy from their beneficiaries, as reified entities existing as something of eternal and immutable, independently from their functions, objectives, contexts and history (Carli & Paniccia, 2002).

On the basis of the psychosocial theoretical model of collusion (Carli, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006, 2020a; Carli & Giovagnoli, 2011, 2020; Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2014; Carli et al., 2016; Grasso & Salvatore, 1997; Paniccia, 1992), these results allowed to identify some hypotheses of development of these emotional and relational dynamics in a more democratic and fair way, which—in a relational perspective of power—involves an active role of the counterpart of the global elite: the individuals, the groups and the organizations outside the systems of belonging of the elites, that experience the effects of their political action. At a relational level, the orientation to possess the other, which represents a need of defense against the possible dangerousness of him, experienced as a non-friend (Carli, 2021) or enemy (Carli & Paniccia, 2002, 2003), should be addressed to an orientation to the productive exchange with him, if conceived as a potential resource for the reciprocal/common development. This objective of development can be pursued through the design and sharing of rule of the game for the social relationships, that can facilitate the development of a productive social coexistence. Also at this level, the need of power as social motivation should be adequately integrated with the other two motivational drivers conceptualized by McClelland (1958, 1987): the need for affiliation and the need for achievement, by facilitating the relational logic of exchange with the other, through the identification of products and evaluable objectives of relationships At the organizational level, the contextualization and regulation of supranational institutions should be promoted through the definition of new rules which allow to design, evaluate and eventually modify functions, objectives and operating modes of these institutions, with an effective participation of their beneficiaries. To this end, these latter should be empowered in order to be able to commission and verify the services of these institution, with a real free of choice about their economic and political self-determination, no longer acting as an obligated user, without a real free of choice, as it seems now. To actively participate in this process of regulation and democratization of the elites, people should be careful not to adopt the same emotional and relational modalities identified in this study for the Davos elite, a risk well illustrated by George Orwell in his novel “Animal farm” (Orwell, 2001).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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