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Problems of polysemy and idealism
Andrew Sayer

2 Markets, embeddedness and trust: problems of polysemy and idealism Andrew Sayer Introduction In this paper I develop a critique of certain approaches to markets and firm behaviour in economics and economic sociology. There are two main targets of the critique. The first concerns some common approaches to markets and the nature of firms in relation to them. Here I argue that the diverse uses of the term ‘market’ in contemporary lay and academic discourse cause confusion. Also problematic in both mainstream and institutional economics is the tendency to treat

in Market relations and the competitive process
Editors: Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market and the competitive process in particular. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. This book explores this interface in a number of ways, looking at the competitive process and market relations from a number of different perspectives. It considers the social role of economic institutions in society and examines the various meanings embedded in the word 'markets', as well as developing arguments on the nature of competition as an instituted economic process. The close of the twentieth century saw a virtual canonisation of markets as the best, indeed the only really effective, way to govern an economic system. The market organisation being canonised was simple and pure, along the lines of the standard textbook model in economics. The book discusses the concepts of polysemy , idealism, cognition, materiality and cultural economy. Michael Best provides an account of regional economic adaptation to changed market circumstances. This is the story of the dynamics of capitalism focused on the resurgence of the Route 128 region around Boston following its decline in the mid-1980s in the face of competition from Silicon Valley. The book also addresses the question of how this resurgence was achieved.

The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.

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Frugality, de-growth and Voluntary Simplicity
Alison Hulme

92 7 Ecological thrift: frugality, de-​growth and Voluntary Simplicity Thrift as a tool for de-​growth Discourses around frugality and the environment are by no means new, and voices from across academic disciplines call for thrift from a broadly ecological standpoint, and have done for many decades. Several well-​researched and bestselling reports on the threatened state of the global environment saw public awareness grow from the 1970s onwards. Key amongst these was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth report (1972

in A brief history of thrift
Abstract only
Alison Hulme

and giving away would inform much of the US Voluntary Simplicity movement? Who could have foreseen that a discourse beset by the individualism and charitable awareness of the Victorian era would rear its head in new forms today as a rationale for the destruction of the welfare state? Such apparent anomalies are testament to the way in which thematic trends enter and exit history at various unexpected points, and actors consistently borrow (often without even realising they are doing so) from their predecessors. So, this book is historical, but not a work of history

in A brief history of thrift
Abstract only
Thoreau in the city
Alison Hulme

108 Conclusion: Thoreau in the city The title of this book is not only descriptive, but wilfully creative of a new history. Thrift has tended to be portrayed in historical and economic discourse as either a ‘new movement’, or as something that has occurred in historical ‘blips’ or ‘moments’ when historical conditions impacted negatively upon capitalism’s ability to provide. There is so much wrong with this interpretation that it is difficult to know where to begin! For a start, capitalism is not known for its ability to provide for all; rather for its ability

in A brief history of thrift
Costas Simitis

brink’, the budget ‘was off target as never before’. Propaganda and political opportunism dominated the discourse. PASOK sought to distinguish itself from the policies of New Democracy. A vote for PASOK would be a vote for change; PASOK would not be afflicted by the same difficulties and shortcomings as the current administration. It would ensure ‘economic growth, stability, cohesion’.1 How this was to be achieved was not articulated. A comprehensive plan to deal with the crisis did not exist. The practice of traditional partisan politics continued; the campaign was

in The European debt crisis
Open Access (free)
Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

1 Introduction Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market and the competitive process in particular. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. In many ways this is to return to a previous age when the study of institutional arrangements was at the centre of the study of

in Market relations and the competitive process
Costas Simitis

of Greece, the deficit figures of the other countries emerged only after repeated reappraisals of government expenditure by Eurostat. However, the slanderous charge of ‘creative accounting’ was reserved for Greece alone.4 Only Greece was continually discussed in such terms in global media coverage and political discourse, despite the challenges and irregularities both Spain and Portugal presented. It was in Greece alone that the government of the day systematically blamed its predecessor for deceiving and misleading the European Union (EU) and international public

in The European debt crisis
Don Slater

thought It is in relation to markets that goods are most obviously conceptually stabilised within economic thought. (For a full discussion of the argument presented in this section, see Slater, 2002.) In everyday language, we define markets as markets for particular goods: there are markets for consumer electronics, or cars, or clothes. Similarly, marketing directors or financial analysts are concerned with futures markets or housing markets. And this is fundamental to both conventional economics and critical economic discourses: markets are delineated by virtue of

in Market relations and the competitive process