Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Consumption Markets and Culture
For a Special Issue on
15 November 2021
In some situations, more than one market can be found at the same time and in the same space. In such situations, one market is often not easily distinguished from other markets. What at first may seem like one market may show in fact to be multiple markets. Buying an ice cream, for example, can simultaneously be part of an ice cream market as well as part of a snack market (Loasby, 1999, p. 111). Also, when the market identified by a competition authority in a decision on antitrust differs from the market identified by the firms involved (Onto, 2014), we may be pointed to a multiple market situation. Moreover, marketplaces located geographically in one place, such as The Night Market, in Sao Paulo, sometimes show to be a simultaneity of multiple market settings with different boundaries defined by its actors (Vereta-Nahoum, 2019). Indeed, there are reasons to believe that such simultaneity of market contexts amid exchange interactions is a relatively common situation. Actors and analysts construe “markets” in multiple different ways, and sometimes do not even recognize a crowd exchanging things as a market.
Market orthodoxy and abstract models of markets have been countered in market studies with attention to individual markets and individual instances of marketization. They have probed specific market systems dynamics (Giesler & Fischer, 2017), the design of digitalized markets (Hagberg & Kjellberg, 2020), how markets are made (Geiger, Kjellberg, & Spencer, 2012), how areas of social life are marketized (Zelizer, 1979), and how markets are agenced (Cochoy, Trompette, & Araujo, 2016). But multiple markets challenge the focus on individual, well-defined markets, central to CMC as well as to market studies more generally. Are multiple markets common to such an extent that most markets can be conceived, at the
same time, as instances of multiple markets? Are established concepts helpful for understanding multiple markets, and what conceptual developments are called for to better understand multiple markets?
Aims of the special issue
We invite articles discussing multiple markets from empirical, methodological as well as theoretical angles. Multiple markets are a practical and analytical problem and we look for contributions that reflect these dimensions and add to current discussions by pointing to types and aspects of markets that too often have been overlooked in studies of markets, consumption, marketing, sociology, STS, anthropology, and more. These include issues of abstraction, of a plurality market concepts, of the ‘natives’ (emic) definition of markets as well as of collective concerns exemplified, but not limited, to the following reflections:
- Knowledge of individual markets may arguably rectify abstract market models (Smelser & Swedberg, 2005; Fligstein, 2001; Aspers, 2011) or explain how individual markets sometimes come to resemble abstract market models (Callon, 1998; Callon & Muniesa, 2005; MacKenzie & Millo, 2003; MacKenzie, 2006). But if the situation investigated is a simultaneity of multiple markets, assuming that the object of study is an individual market is yet another abstraction or analytical construction of the researcher that might bear little heuristic potential.
- “Market” is defined in social theory, and often social scientists studying markets understand it as their prerogative to define the concept of market. Yet “market” is also a discursive construct at the center of legal practice (Weiler, 1999; Christophers, 2013; Davies, 2013); of political ideologies and so-called thought collectives (Mirowski, 2013; Mirowski & Plehwe, 2009; Watson, 2018); of engineering efforts (Jenle & Pallesen, 2017; Pallesen & Jacobsen, 2018; Breslau, 2011) among other expert practices. Seen together there is a diversity of expert definitions of markets. Thus “market” may sometimes be regarded as a floating or an empty signifier (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985), not having any stable definition or even any definition at all, and yet be central to neoliberalism (Birch, 2017). Thus “market” is only sometimes a specific type of social order, such as the one found in a marketplace for strawberries (Garcia-Parpet, 2007). At other times “market” may as well be understood as an observer’s category, such as a second-order observation of prices (Luhmann, 2000; Esposito, 2011, p. 62ff) resulting in a situation of polycontexturality, in which the market is potentially distinct to each observer (Luhmann & Schorr, 1988, p. 96). Taken together, this plurality of market concepts in social sciences and other expert discourses as well as in social life inquired into by social science, makes it unsurprising that at the same time and in the same space, more than one market can be found.
- Market concepts are sometimes defined relatively independently of the social situations they attempt to describe. But sometimes market concepts and market practices are entangled, such that market concepts become internal to market practices and such that multiple market situations may emerge. “Give me a two-by-two matrix and I will create the market” (Pollock & D’Adderio, 2012) is one example of such an entanglement; and
with two two-by-twos, we may suspect, a multiple market situation arises. The arrangement of an auction house as informed by economic theory may make a (strawberry) market (Garcia-Parpet, 2007; Callon, 1998); and the simultaneity of multiple concepts of (strawberry) markets may point us to a situation of multiple (strawberry) markets (Frankel, 2018). Additionally, the design of markets, for example in the form of school choice platforms (Roth, 2007), show that situations not immediately resembling a market (Li, 2017) are enacted by unfolding distinct concepts of markets in algorithms and rules defining roles of actors; and when such markets are redesigned (Roth & Peranson, 1999) it is plausible to find multiple market situations.
- Markets for collective concerns (Frankel, Pallesen, & Ossandón, 2019) offer examples in case. These are markets used as policy instruments to solve issues such as children at risk of going into care (Neyland, Gasparin, & Siu, 2019), secure and affordable electricity (Reverdy & Breslau, 2019), and public transport (Ossand n & Ureta, 2019). Often such markets are carefully designed; and often such markets fail, with the result that policymaking becomes the evaluation, diagnosis, design, and repair of markets. In such situations of failure, several and sometimes competing concepts of markets and market designs make multiple market situations a likely outcome. We welcome papers and commentaries which identify, investigate or discuss multiple markets, and invite a broad range of academic disciplines and policy perspectives, such as anthropology, consumer research, economic policy, marketing, market studies, organization studies, political science, sociology, and others.
Illustrative examples of topics are listed below. All papers that address any aspects relevant to the special issue theme are welcomed (and are by no means restricted the topics listed):
- How is a market individuated? A more systematic view of multiple markets may render situations that have hitherto been understood as “a market” as multiple markets. A question here is how can we single out markets apart from the fluxes of exchange.
- How are markets recognized? Sometimes a market may be identified by pointing to a given set of devices, actors, or even a well-defined space. But often the identification of a market is more complex, and may, for example, involve various implicit as well as explicit criteria. In this sense, it seems fundamental to retrace the analytical operations whereby a market is defined.
- How does the identification of markets by different market actors differ and how do multiple identifications and conceptualizations matter for the ways markets are realized?
- How do circumstances in which market concepts become explicit in the area inquired into, such as in the case of market design, alter and perform the way we imagine and construe markets?
- “Market” is arguably sometimes concrete, sometimes an abstraction, and sometimes a situation in between, possibly at most levels of a ladder of abstraction. How do such distinct levels of abstraction work together in multiple markets?
- How do multiple markets relate to one another in practical situations? Do regulators, customers, and retailers, for example, operate in different markets?
- How are markets enacted when their actors (such as retailers and customers) do not share the same conception as their designers? In situations in which there are competing conceptions of markets and how they should operate (what are the devices in operation), how is exchange possible?
- How can the multiplicity of conceptions, boundary-definitions, instantiations, and uses of markets be employed strategically by actors?
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