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SOC 365: Culture and Markets

In this course, we seek to understand economic markets as cultural institutions. Far from natural or inevitable entities, markets are social constructions that rely upon¿and reproduce¿particular shared understandings about how the world is and should be. In this course, we consider the cognitive, expressive, and normative aspects of culture in order to analyze the existence of markets, the forms they take, and the justifications for the effects they have. We begin by exploring the cultural constitution of market goods and actors. How do some, but not other, objects come to be exchanged via the market, and why do companies and consumers look and act the way they do? We then dig deeper into the key cultural forms and processes that enable and constrain economic phenomena. In what ways do classification, quantification, narrative, metaphor, and so on give rise to the market as we experience it, and who has the power to shape the way these processes take hold? Next, we delve into two speci more »
In this course, we seek to understand economic markets as cultural institutions. Far from natural or inevitable entities, markets are social constructions that rely upon¿and reproduce¿particular shared understandings about how the world is and should be. In this course, we consider the cognitive, expressive, and normative aspects of culture in order to analyze the existence of markets, the forms they take, and the justifications for the effects they have. We begin by exploring the cultural constitution of market goods and actors. How do some, but not other, objects come to be exchanged via the market, and why do companies and consumers look and act the way they do? We then dig deeper into the key cultural forms and processes that enable and constrain economic phenomena. In what ways do classification, quantification, narrative, metaphor, and so on give rise to the market as we experience it, and who has the power to shape the way these processes take hold? Next, we delve into two special cases: money, which some hold to be impervious to social considerations, and cultural objects, which some hold to be impervious to market logic. Both turn out to be much more complicated. In the final part of the course, we explore cultural aspects of organizations and economic policymaking. The course readings are largely empirical research, so we will also critically discuss how sociologists use data and methods to build evidence
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5
Instructors: Kiviat, B. (PI)
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