P2
Markets and cultures: articulations, constellations and new challenges for anthropology

Convenors:
Christina Garsten (Stockholm University)
Stream:
Plenaries
Location:
Victoria LT
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

The panel invites discussions into the varieties of articulation between market and cultural processes, the various constellations of ideas and actions, the challenges and opportunities these may bring to anthropology.

Long abstract:

Globalisation, the growth of trade blocks such as the European Union, social change! , and the spread of fast communications all increase the impact of the market in peoples’ lives, making an examination of social and cultural uses of the modern market all the more relevant. In ‘modern’ capitalist societies, markets are generally taken to be inevitable, pervasive and unproblematic, as simply a part of everyday life, whose form and function is seldom questioned. Certainly, markets have never been free of friction and contestation, but today we take note of a greater questioning of market processes, their logic and ethics, and of demands for responsibility and accountability in the marketplace. Simultaneously, markets are increasingly becoming arenas for political statements and action and for the self-definition of individuals and groups, as the swell in global flows of capital and goods now integrates culturally diverse and widely dispersed populations into each other’s agendas and aspirations. Whilst anthropologists have contributed substantially to the ethnography and understanding of market processes in more ‘traditional’ societies, less has been written about how people in complex market economies perceive, model, and use markets. The increasing emphasis on market mechanisms, indeed their elevation to a kind of ‘mantra’ leading to greater prosperity and development, makes such an examination all the more interesting and timely. The panel invites discussions into the varieties of articulation between market and cultural processes, the various constellations of ideas and actions, the challenges and opportunities these may bring to anthropology. The panel aims to open up for critical discussions into cultural processes taking place in modern markets; how certain groups employ the market to solve problems, create capital, gain particular political ends, pose pertinent arguments, question economic processes, and delineate moral values and responsibilities.