Contesting Markets: Analyses of Ideology, Discourse and Practice

By Roy Dilly | Go to book overview
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( Shinn 1985); the defining power of market discourse is likewise hegemonic. The challenge taken up by the contributors to this volume goes beyond the contemporary moment of political fad and fashion. For this collection attempts to contest the hegemony of market discourse within social anthropology and social science generally, and invites analysts to attend to the possibility of other voices within the 'world market'. Furthermore, the examination of the historical and sociological contexts in which market discourse emerges refines a sense of the specificity of the market as an idea and its relationship to practice.

This chapter is based on ideas set out in an initial position paper circulated to conference participants prior to the meeting in January 1991. These ideas were later elaborated in a more extended version presented to the conference, and I wish to thank participants for their helpful comments, criticism and advice. Much inspiration has been gained in the writing of this introduction from the works of S. Gudeman, in particular Gudeman and Penn 1982, Gudeman 1986, Gudeman and Rivera 1990 on models, metaphors and cultural modelling. I warmly acknowledge this debt, which is no doubt apparent at numerous points in the text. I would also like to thank the members of the Social Anthropology Departmental Seminar at Manchester, where a version of this paper was read, for the many constructive points they raised. In the preparation of this introduction I have also benefited particularly from discussions with members of the Social Anthropology Unit at St Andrews, especially Ladislav Holy and Tristan Platt. To Richard Fardon, a supportive ex-St Andrews hand, also goes a special note of thanks for commenting in detail on an early draft. This introduction is provocative: as an exercise in theoretical slash and burn methods it attempts to clear an analytical ground on which market notions can be considered. Responsibility for any remaining excesses and errors in argument or detail rest, however, solely with the author.
The regional scope of this volume is not intended to be exhaustive or complete, but simply represents the area interests of conference participants who were able and willing to address this topic. Greater regional coverage of these issues is a project requiring further investigation. Note also that references to chapters included here are made by simply citing the name of the author. All other references to published works include the date of publication.
See Jackson 1982 on the related point that emphatic understanding precedes acts of alliance.
The following discussion is based on entries in The Compact English Dictionary.
See Fardon reference ( 1987:170) to ' Neitzche's pocket problem': that a word, like a pocket, can contain a variety of things and those contents reflect the habits of the user.
Economics as a discipline negates morality (see Novak 1985). The bracketing of morality by economics is linked to the claims of the discipline to be a positive science which sustains the distinction between fact and value.
Compare Hindu India where 'the innocence of commerce' is a function of a division of labour between castes whose mutual interdependence does not give rise to an ideology of autarky from which moral condemnation can be drawn ( Parry 1989).
Price, then, became a social phenomenon determined either by the community in the form of the communis estimatio, the 'natural' or 'vulgar' price, which was reached spontaneously by chaffering in markets, or by public regulation whereby 'legal' prices were fixed by public authorities (de Roover 1968).


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Contesting Markets: Analyses of Ideology, Discourse and Practice
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