26th October 2015

(Im)Possible Markets: 4th Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop

It is a great pleasure to circulate the call for papers for the 4th Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop. As previously announced, the workshop will take place June 8-10 2016 in St. Andrews, Scotland. The deadline for proposals/extended abstracts is January 31 2016.

4th Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop
June 8-10, 2016
School of Management, University of St Andrews

(Im)Possible markets: Putting market studies to work

Since its first meeting in 2010, the Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop has established a thriving community of scholars with a shared interest in the conception, construction, organisation and operation of markets. Participants have presented detailed empirical accounts of market formation and change processes, mundane market practices, performativity, worth and valuation, and have discussed the power of markets alongside ideas of creativity and personhood.

In approaching such topics, market studies has drawn heavily on ideas from neighbouring disciplines, and there has been travel in the reverse direction too: market studies has surfaced in marketing (Araujo, Finch, & Kjellberg, 2010), organization studies (McFall & Ossandon, 2014; Roscoe & Chillas, 2014) and science and technology studies (MacKenzie, 2006; Doganova & Karnoe, 2015). But there is still much potential for productive exchange with cognate disciplines, particularly (economic) sociology, anthropology, consumption studies, management and organisation studies. Given the politically charged nature of markets under neoliberalism, market studies is also poised for productive dialogue with political science and political economy.

This 4th workshop aims to strengthen links with other disciplines and further develop market studies as an interdisciplinary field. In asking what the performative, civilising or disciplining consequences of market organisation might be, it seeks to reposition long-standing research questions around the politics and ethics of markets with a focus on the performativity and power of market arrangements. We ask what markets do, and why they matter. We seek to invigorate market studies by encouraging studies of markets and quasi-markets (systems of organization based on exchange, barter and allocation) that are powerful, yet questionable; markets for market alien goods (Fourcade, 2011); markets on the edge of society (Pettinger, 2012), or technology (Roscoe, 2015); markets with the possibility for resistance and rejuvenation (Maurer, 2003). What are the narratives that accompany alternative market forms – novel currencies (Maurer, Nelms, & Swartz, 2013), ‘fairtrade’ (Dolan, 2010) or ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (Dolan, 2013), the ‘sharing economy’, crowdfunding, or renting – and how do actually existing markets operationalise such ideas?

This also presents a critical challenge –what might the emancipatory possibilities of market studies be? What does the performative stance associated with much work in market studies mean for critical scholarship – is ‘critical performativity’ even possible? (Spicer, Alvesson, & Karreman, 2009; Tadajewski, 2010). What are the politics of markets and of market models? How are markets incorporated into systems of redistribution, ‘development’ and ‘empowerment’? (Blowfield and Dolan, 2014). What orders of worth do they represent? Submissions might explore how local forms of worth and ethics are entangled in market arrangements; the processes (performative or otherwise) by which market models are brought into being and made thinkable; or the processes and practices through which market models, despite failure, are sustained and reproduced. How does market design interact with the construction of the institutions and procedures of contemporary political democracy?

Finally, how would we do it differently? How might we intervene in the design of the architecture of markets (Fligstein, 2001)? What can market studies say about economic engineering (Roth, 2002) or ‘nudge’ theory, fast becoming the guiding theories for contemporary policy? What should we say about algorithmic markets? Following recent innovative contributions to our field, we ask contributors to imagine the possibility for bricolage and ‘hacking’ of market arrangements[i], to ask if markets can solve problems[ii] and to explore the mundane and the everyday[iii], alongside the powerful and the political. We welcome innovative approaches, conceptual work, and blue-sky thinking – markets possible and impossible – as well as empirical accounts of actually existing market arrangements. In the end we hope to ask, with MacKenzie (2006), what kind of a (market) world might we wish to see performed.

Speakers: We are delighted to welcome Professor Donald MacKenzie and Dr Catherine Dolan as keynote speakers for the workshop. Donald MacKenzie is professor of sociology at Edinburgh University and has for many years been one of the pre-eminent researchers of markets; a founder of ‘social studies of finance’, he is particularly known for his studies of financial derivatives and high-speed trading. Catherine Dolan is reader in anthropology at SOAS, and is interested in the cultural and political economy of markets and development. Her current research centres on the corporation as an agent of development and explores how business engages development concerns under the aegis of ‘responsible capitalism’.

Venue: The workshop will be held at the School of Management of the University of St Andrews, from the evening of 8 June to mid-afternoon 10 June, 2016. St Andrews is a scenic town on the Fife coast, famous for its ancient university and its golf courses. It is easily accessible by road, rail, and with regular connections to Edinburgh airport. For more details, see http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/about/visiting/travel/. Accommodation will be in the university’s Agnes Blackadder Hall, approximately five minutes’ walk from the School of Management.

How to submit: We invite contributors to submit a one to three page abstract/paper proposal to imsw2016@outlook.com. Proposals should indicate topic, theoretical positioning, methodology and outline findings, if appropriate. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, January 31, 2016. Inquiries about the workshop can be made to any of the workshop organisers. We will notify contributors about acceptance by early March, and full papers will be due early May.

Organising committee:

Kimberly Chong, University College London, kimberly.chong [ a t ] ucl.ac.uk
Hans Kjellberg, Stockholm School of Economics, hans.kjellberg [ a t ] hhs.se
Alexandre Mallard, Ecole des Mines ParisTech, alexandre.mallard [ a t ] mines-paristech.fr
Philip Roscoe, University of St Andrews, pjr10 [ a t ] st-andrews.ac.uk


Araujo, L., Finch, J., & Kjellberg, H. (Eds.). (2010). Reconnecting Marketing to Markets. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Blowfield, M. & Dolan, C. (2014).  Bottom billion capitalism: The possibility and improbability of business as development actor. Third World Quarterly, 35 (1), 22-42.

Dolan, C. (2013). Capital’s new frontier: From ‘unusable’ economies to bottom of the pyramid markets in Africa. African Studies Review, 56 (3), 123-146.

Dolan, C. (2010). Virtual Moralities: The Mainstreaming of Fairtrade in Kenyan Tea Fields. Geoforum, 41 (1), 33-43.

Fourcade, M. (2011). Cents and Sensibility: Economic Valuation and the Nature of ‘Nature’. American Journal of Sociology, 116(6), 1721-1777.

MacKenzie, D. (2006). An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Maurer, B. (2003). Uncanny exchanges: the possibilities and failures ofmaking change with alternative monetary forms. Environment and Planning D, 21(3), 317-340.

Maurer, B., Nelms, T. C., & Swartz, L. (2013). “When perhaps the real problem is money itself!”: the practical materiality of Bitcoin. Social Semiotics, 23(2), 261-277.

McFall, L., & Ossandon, J. (2014). What’s new in the ‘new, new economic sociology’ and should organisation studies care? In P. Adler, P. Du Gay, G. Morgan, & M. Reed (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents (pp. 510-533). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pettinger, L. (2013). Market moralities in the field of commercial sex. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(2), 184-199.

Roscoe, P. (2015). A moral economy of transplantation: Competing regimes of value in the allocation of transplant organs. In C. Helgesson, F. Lee, & I. Dussange (Eds.), Value Practices in Life Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roscoe, P., & Chillas, S. (2014). The state of affairs: critical performativity and the online dating industry. Organization, 21(6), 797-820.

Roth, A. E. (2002). The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics. Econometrica, 70(4), 1341-1378.

Spicer, A., Alvesson, M., & Karreman, D. (2009). Critical performativity: The unfinished business of critical management studies. Human Relations, 62(4), 537-560.

Tadajewski, M. (2010). Critical marketing studies: logical empiricism, ‘critical performativity’ and marketing practice. Marketing Theory, 10(2), 210-222.


[i] http://socfinance.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/will-the-real-engineers-please-stand-up/#more-4816

[ii] Following the ERC funded project http://www.marketproblems.com

[iii] http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/research/centres/socialtheorycentre/archive/everydaymarketlives/