August 2, 2007
Last week Michel Callon, Fabian Muniesa and Yuval Millo (yours truly) finished editing a volume, titled Market Devices, that is due out very soon by Blackwell (we don’t have a definite date yet, but the book can already be pre-ordered on Blackwell’s web site). Hence, this post is a bit of blatant self-promotion, but then again, the book is about sociology of markets and so it is relevant to what we’ve been discussing here since we started this blog.
The collection of papers in the volume is varied and it would be improper, really, to try and summarise them in a short post. However, at this point I can identify two key concepts that correspond directly with the papers.
First, the papers refer to the important, yet easily overlooked, role of technical devices in the construction of markets and their impact on market behaviour. Naturally, stating that something is a ‘device’ refers implicitly to the status of agency attributed that thing and to actors surrounding it. We discuss this issue – the problematic agency in contemporary markets – in the introduction briefly, but I believe that a more thorough look at what agency in markets is comes from the various empirical cases analysed in the chapters.
Second, the papers discuss, illuminate and sometimes problemitise the various dimensions implied in the notion of economising. Do markets make a society more ‘economic’ or are they merely the institutional expressions of pre-existing ideas and practices? Or maybe there are performative links between markets as institutions, market behaviour and more general notions of what it means ‘to be economic’? Again, these are questions that provided challenges to sociologists since the days of Weber and Polanyi. So, here again the papers canvass various testimonies about the processes behind the creation of markets and the formation of economic behaviours.