14th October 2014

Everyday Market Lives

Call for a papers for a Workshop in the Sociology Department at the University of Warwick,  February 13th 2015

Everyday Market Lives

Organised by Lynne Pettinger (Sociology, Warwick) and Liz Moor (Media & Communications, Goldsmiths)*

Deadline for abstracts: 31st October  2014

Capitalist societies routinely ask people to make judgements of value and worth, and to decide between an array of competing choices, as part of their everyday lives. Economic knowledge and expertise is thus not something that resides only with bankers, financial journalists and government accountants; it exists in a tacit form within the routines of daily life in capitalist society, and is a key part of people’s experiences at work, in consumption, in leisure, in media use, in practices of caring for children and elderly relatives, or in financial planning and household management.  The kinds of resources (economic, social, intellectual and imaginative) that people are able to marshal, and how they understand what they want to, and are able to, make happen with these resources has profound implications for overall wellbeing, and for people’s sense of themselves as parents, workers, citizens, patients, and so on.

Current scholarship in the areas of economic sociology, valuation studies and consumption studies is typically very good at articulating either the calculations, measurements and commensuration practices undertaken by institutional actors (such as those working in financial services), or the personal meanings and values attached to consumption practices in everyday life. It has not yet been so good at elaborating the economic skills and calculative practices, or the forms of working knowledge that people develop as part of everyday life in market societies. The value of making this connection, we propose, is to expand the intellectual frameworks through which we approach economic knowledge and action.

The workshop therefore aims to bring together scholars from diverse fields to explore the ways in which people come to understand themselves as economic actors, and the kinds of knowledge about markets that they deploy, develop or acquire in doing so. Everyday economic activity involves people in making sense, making decisions and making meaning through the possibilities and limitations that income affords them: desires are tempered, the judgements of others are felt, and new expertise may need to be acquired. We invite papers with an explicit focus on ordinary, routine, banal, or everyday forms of economic action. We are open-minded about the empirical focus through which such issues might be explored, but possible questions that papers might address include:

– What kinds of (economic) knowledge and expertise are used in everyday economic action? What are the sources of this knowledge?

– How do people think about, and what do people learn about money and the workings of markets through everyday economic activities such as shopping, negotiating a pay rise, saving, allocating pocket money, making a will, or finding childcare?

– How do people make judgements of worth in everyday situations? What kind of underlying ethics or values can be traced in people’s decisions in these areas?

– What effect does poverty (or wealth) have on people’s sense of themselves as social/ economic actors? Conversely, how is people’s understanding of their economic choices or situations (including awareness of their position within hierarchies) shaped by public/media discourses about what counts as a ‘good’ economic subject?

– How do people retrospectively account for or justify the choices they have made in these areas? Or how do they account for having made ‘bad’ decisions in their economic lives? Under what circumstances do they feel obliged to make such justifications?

– What kinds of feelings are evoked when people engage in market/economic activities? How are fears and desires managed? Are there ‘prototypical’ affects or emotions associated with certain kinds of economic activities?

– How do people produce narratives about themselves and their lives/relationships in relation to money and economic decision making?

Abstract submission

Please submit an abstract of 300 to 500 words by email to or by 31st October 2014.  A limited budget to help with travel expenses is available. Lunch will be provided. Invited presenters will be notified by Nov 15th 2014. Please be prepared to share your paper by February 2nd 2015. Papers will be circulated before the workshop. The workshop will be reserved for intensive discussion of papers.

* in association with the Social Theory Centre, Warwick University and the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Further information at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/research/centres/socialtheorycentre/everydaymarketlives

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