Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Economic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Exchange
Secondary Theme: Technology
This panel explores research in spaces amidst, adjoining, or in advance of market logics. We invite papers from researchers working on problems of finance, of innovation in science and/or business, and in the space between the two. We will consider how particular market practices and situations occur – embedding, encompassment, and transposition – but ask what this looks like from the perspective of technology innovation’s messy economics. In asking this question, we also open an inquiry into the problem of innovation economies: creativity in organization, in finance models, and in product development all interface with market logics, but are rarely a routine product of them. Essentially, we are interested in probing the idea of hierarchy implicit in calling this era “neoliberal”. What if we considered practices of competition, of market logics, as being one practice among many, rather than a coordinating domain of activity?
We therefore need to locate the market. Rather than treating it as a naturally emergent property of human interaction, we seek to particularize it. For example, can we analyze the development and commercialization of renewable energy infrastructures through the efficient markets hypothesis, or is there some surplus that exceeds a single regime of calculation? We are interested in aspirations and faith as forces that make markets and innovation happen. When looking at the surface of things, the clumsy bricolage of putting together technologies-in-development, ‘business’ relations and institutional frameworks, it can sometimes appear that nothing could move without a regimenting conceptual framework. As another example of this, in the case of emergent innovation ecosystems, equity investors seek profit on investments, but universities and nonprofit business facilitation projects are often more concerned with their nominal mission or the expansion of their domains of control in novel settings. The possibility explored in this session is that market logics, broadly dispersed as they may be, are always in contention, often from the people and polities through which they are effected.
The prepositions in the panel’s title both relativize the position of the market - this is deliberate. When technological or organizational innovations are not incorporated in the market they are often treated as confused, unformatted. What this panel attempts is a location of the market - imagining it as one technique of conceptualizing priorities and organizational flows among many, a particular impulse or shaping force, not a tacit totality from which specific projects emerge.