Liz McFall, Open University, UK,
Steven Kahl, University of Chicago, USA,
Joeri Mol, University of Melbourne, Australia,
This EGOS 2012 Helsinki subtheme revolves around markets; the way they work or more accurately the way we think they work. Theories of markets are not innocent or neutral. Markets (or rather their failure) not only form the raison d’être for organizations (cf. Coase, 1937), but also constitute a dominant logic in contemporary organizations (Friedland & Alford, 1991; Thornton, 2002). They affect economic practices in all manners of ways: which markets are analyzed, how markets ‘in the wild’ are analyzed, how they work and fail to work, are all questions where models form, inform, or perform practice (Callon, 1998; MacKenzie, Muniesa, & Siu, 2007).
Accounts of markets are wide and varied. Rational choice theory accompanied by methodological individualism has dominated how neo-classical economists view the market, this being particularly prominent in the Efficient-Market Hypothesis (Fama, 1970). Sociologists, seeing markets as ensnared in a web of social relationships, have investigated how norms and values mitigate the uncertainties underlying economic transactions (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Fligstein & Dauter, 2007; White, 1981). Contesting the notion of atomistic trading partners, sociologists have emphasized how economic agents are acculturated into embedded exchange through compliance with reigning market institutions. Critical management scholars have stressed that the increasing adoption of market thinking in organizations facilitates subordination through the ‘financialization’ of labor relations (Adler, Forbes, & Willmott, 2008). Social studies of markets (Callon, 1998; MacKenzie et al., 2007) and cultural economy (du Gay & Pryke, 2002; Pryke & du Gay, 2007) contend that markets are not immune to inquiry and observation, claiming that many of the practices, tools and devices that are used in markets are heavily influenced by centuries of economic thought, both lay and academic. And finally, anthropological studies of markets have even challenged the privileging of expertise that such social studies entail (Riles, 2010).
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