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By addressing the ‘practical heart’ of markets, my aim in this article is to explore the way markets carry on despite the peculiar, mathematically limited and opportunistically versatile, character of human calculation. The abstract theorems of economics may be unreal to practical ‘men’ but the curious thing is they calculate still. In any social world there are vast unknowns compensated by routine, practice and habit, but also by faith, piety and fundamentalisms of all sorts, including religious, market and even liberal secular (see Block, 2010; Thompson, 2006). Viewed from a pragmatist perspective, knowledge is always partial, always shifting and always social. An admission of deficits, of course, is not the same as an admission of complete ignorance. While critics from Thorstein Veblen (1898) through J.K. Galbraith (1954/1975; 1958) to Mark Granovetter (1985) and the 2001 Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, have lined up to dismiss even the possibility of the perfect information stipulated in neoclassical models of exchange, no-one is claiming that markets run on nothing. So if it’s not perfect information what is driving market calculation? Michel Callon’s influential solution was to propose that the sociological impulse to add a ‘little more soul’ to the economic agent be resisted in favour of research into how ‘framed, formatted and equipped with prostheses’ human beings nevertheless calculate (1998, p51).
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Copyright Holders:||2011 The Author|
|Extra Information:||Special Issue: Contesting Markets|
|Academic Unit/Department:||Social Sciences > Sociology
|Interdisciplinary Research Centre:||Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG)|
|Depositing User:||Liz McFall|
|Date Deposited:||26 Jan 2012 10:10|
|Last Modified:||29 Feb 2016 13:45|
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