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By Kenneth J. Arrow

This primer highlights either the strengths and the restrictions of benefit-cost research within the improvement, layout, and implementation of regulatory reform.

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Extra info for Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation

Example text

Homes, cars and stereos are now advertised with a bulleted list of their features; the number of features sets one version of a commodity above another. As transformed by the language of merchandising, ‘homes’ are no longer places that achieve value through the accumulated experiences of lives transpiring there but instead become collections of features – hot tubs, bars, decks, views, and so forth. Features can be added and upgraded, enhancing value. Cosmetic surgery fragments the body into a set of features that can be serially upgraded.

Leiss’s critique of fragmentation anticipates Richard Sennett’s (1998) evaluation of the ‘corrosion of character’ in contemporary conditions of work life. For Sennett corrosion results from the absence of the possibilities for temporally coherent careers and what he calls ‘legible’ work functions. Unsure of what they will be doing tomorrow, or exactly what their work today actually accomplishes, people cannot develop a coherent set of objectives for their lives or make judgements about the suitability of their next career and family choices.

But cosmetic surgery websites show few ideal bodies; because the pin-up image of the woman’s body that serves as a link to different surgical services (by clicking on part of her) is such an exception that most viewers will probably see it as a joke. 6 The extreme clinical detail of these images gives bodies a new literalness, not a fantasy perfection. One effect of the accumulated fragmentation is to efface any referent – natural or ideal – of a whole body. Fragmentation renders the body perpetually unstable; no body can ever be idealized because the fragments never compose into a coherent whole.

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