In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

cation in mainstream society, as Donald M. Baer and Beth Sulzer-Azaroff have pointed out, but it does represent an important experiment in the possibilities of behaviorist education under ideal circumstances. 16 The Economic Structure the los horcones economy operates on the so-called labor-time system, an adaptation of the Skinnerian labor-credit system. Its main difference is that work is measured in terms of time, not a credit that varies depending on the degree of popularity of the work. Twin Oaks experimented extensively with varied credit before they, too, abandoned it. In their opinion, the system could be manipulated and misused too easily. Los Horcones simply states that the system was changed but does not give any reasons for doing so (Los Horcones, “Pilot” 26). One could speculate, however, that the varied credit was abandoned because it provides a contrived, noncommunitarian reinforcer for working. As has been pointed out before, Los Horcones puts great emphasis on creating natural (instead of contrived) and communitarian reinforcers for communitarian behavior. Skinner’s labor-credit system fulfills neither of the two criteria. First, if a person is given extra credit for doing a task he or she dislikes, the fact that the person does not enjoy the task is not really changed. As soon as the extra credit is removed, the person will find the task unpleasant again. Los Horcones tries instead to modify a person’s behavior in such a way that he or she will actually find the task itself agreeable, even in the absence of outward reinforcers. Second, Skinner’s system reinforces good workers by giving them leisure time. The underlying assumption must be that work is to be avoided and that leisure is a desirable reward. The attitude this promotes is counterproductive for a cooperative community that depends on its members’ willingness to work. At Los Horcones, as at Twin Oaks, the flexibility of the work schedule is one of the most valued aspects of the original labor-credit system.While the work coordinator determines twice a month what work has to be done and how many hours each member will have to put in, the individual members are free to choose when they want to work, unless outward circumstances intervene (cows, for example, have to be milked in the morning), and what the economic structure . 149 04.133-162_Kuhl.indd 149 3/29/05 4:02:36 PM 150 . comunidad los horcones tasks they want to work on, as long as these tasks are on the coordinator’s list of things to be done (Los Horcones, “Pilot” 26–27). Men and women have equal access to all areas of work. The communards at Los Horcones advocate a sustainable economic system , which makes them very selective about the work habits they reinforce. “Never take anything away without replacing it” reads one of the many signs put up on the community’s grounds to remind people of proper behavior. This applies not only to tools but also to the sensible use of natural resources . Thus, another sign says: “Everything can be used and reused. Little needs to be thrown out.” This attitude is reflected in the work done at Los Horcones.Water is recycled, little plastic is used, work tools and other dailylife utensils are handled carefully to make them last longer, and so on. The throwaway attitude and overconsumption that prevail in capitalist societies are not acceptable at Los Horcones. Hardly any problems with the labor-time system, past or present, are reported in the numerous articles the community has published. In fact, the community’s economic basis and system of work distribution are always mentioned in general descriptions of the community, but they are never discussed in depth.However,it seems unlikely that there were no labor problems worth mentioning in over twenty years of community life. It is unfortunate that Los Horcones refuses to give a detailed picture of its economic system.4 In the absence of more information, deciding whether the laborcredit system based on time but not efficiency works for Los Horcones remains pure speculation. This is all the more regrettable since Los Horcones is the only Walden Two community in which Skinner’s proposals appear to function quite smoothly. 17 Leadership and Decision Making skinner favored a government run by professionals or, as Kinkade put it, “by those who are good at it” (interview with the author, April 10, 1995). The ordinary citizens of Walden Two, Skinner argued, would not...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.