miniconference on economic sociology – markets and morals
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SASE 2015 Moral Economies, Economic Moralities
June 24-26, 2016 – University of California, Berkeley
Miniconference: Market Morals, Taboo Categories and Redefined Legitimacy
Paper proposals due: January 18th, 2016 – Moved to Feb. 1st
Organizers: Barbara Brents, Erica Coslor, Brett Crawford, Martin Parker
Intersections between morals and economic forces provide a productive niche to study blurring of cultural factors, economic trends, and values-driven behaviour at the individual, organizational and market level. In the same age as ethical investing, which can be seen as one redefinition of legitimacy, we find an explosion of formerly taboo goods and services elsewhere. From the increasing access to pornography to the newly legal US gay wedding industry, or the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco firms in investing, we see wide redefinition of what is, and what is not, considered acceptable for consumers, firms and society.
This theme welcomes empirical papers that focus on redefinition and movement of moral and ethical lines, and the factors that influence these shifts, from culture to regulation to potential profits. For example, neoliberal promotion of free markets fosters a culture of consumption promoting individual freedom and self-management. This paradoxically seems to promote conservative gender and sexual norms, while mainstreaming the growing sex industry. More widely, moral and political boundaries impact producers, conditions of production and consumers. Selling sex toys is legal, selling sex often isn’t, and selling other people for sex is usually illegal, yet we find a $870 m. market for transnational organized crime. Morals and categories are seen in calculative practices from non-interest Islamic mortgages to museums that avoid valuing sacred and human remains. We also welcome organizational-level work, given how contemporary corporations are expected to pursue morality while providing financial returns, such as Starbucks’ anti-gun/ pro equality stance.
Papers for this session could address questions such as the following:
- Cultural Dimensions of Taboo Markets
- What are the cultural dimensions behind the growing market for taboo goods and services?
- Does neoliberal culture foster increasing boundaries around the taboo? Or are those boundaries more fluid and flexible?
- Do a culture’s moral values overlay market dynamics? Or does the market create its own morality?
- Moral and immoral valuation, quantification and provenance
- What calculative practices are deemed moral or immoral and why? When do we see alternative systems vs. calculation itself being opposed?
- What are the implications of tainted provenance for valuation? Can controversy both add and take away value?
- Quantifying the growing markets for stigmatized goods and services
- Do new social investing methods change the evaluation of sin stocks, gun markets and tobacco?
- How can we evaluate interactions between screening socially undesirable products vs. potential revenue losses from divestiture from profitable, but undesirable areas?
- Blurring legitimate and illegitimate market boundaries
- By what mechanisms do moral and political boundaries become blurred markets?
- How do blurring moral and political boundaries impact what is produced, who produces, conditions of production and consumer impacts?
- Corporations as Actors with Morality
- How has actorhood emphasizing moral values affected the corporate model?
- How have corporate values and wealthy employees reshaped financial markets?
Barbara Brents, UNLV
Erica Coslor, University of Melbourne, Australia
Brett Crawford, Purdue University
Martin Parker, Leicester University, UK