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4th Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop
Wednesday 8 June – Friday 10 June 2016
School of Management, University of St Andrews

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(Im)Possible markets: Putting market studies to work


Download the programme: IMSW_Programme_2016 (Word, 41 KB) - updated 1 June 2016.

Registration is now closed.


Professor Donald MacKenzie, keynote speaker at Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop (IMSW) 2016We are delighted to welcome Professor Donald MacKenzie as keynote speaker for the Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop 2016. Donald MacKenzie is professor of sociology at the University of Edinburgh and has for many years been one of the pre-eminent researchers of markets; a founder of 'social studies of finance', he is particularly known for his studies of financial derivatives and high-speed trading.

About the workshop

Since its first meeting in 2010, the workshop has established a thriving community of scholars with a shared interest in the conception, construction, organisation and operation of markets. Participants have presented detailed empirical accounts of market formation and change processes, mundane market practices, performativity, worth and valuation, and have discussed the power of markets alongside ideas of creativity and personhood.

In approaching such topics, market studies has drawn heavily on ideas from neighbouring disciplines, and there has been travel in the reverse direction too: market studies has surfaced in marketing (Araujo, Finch, & Kjellberg, 2010), organisation studies (McFall & Ossandon, 2014; Roscoe & Chillas, 2014) and science and technology studies (MacKenzie, 2006; Doganova & Karnoe, 2015). But there is still much potential for productive exchange with cognate disciplines, particularly (economic) sociology, anthropology, consumption studies, management and organisation studies. Given the politically charged nature of markets under neoliberalism, market studies is also poised for productive dialogue with political science and political economy.

This 4th workshop aims to strengthen links with other disciplines and further develop market studies as an interdisciplinary field. In asking what the performative, civilising or disciplining consequences of market organisation might be, it seeks to reposition long-standing research questions around the politics and ethics of markets with a focus on the performativity and power of market arrangements. We ask what markets do, and why they matter. We seek to invigorate market studies by encouraging studies of markets and quasi-markets (systems of organisation based on exchange, barter and allocation) that are powerful, yet questionable; markets for market alien goods (Fourcade, 2011); markets on the edge of society (Pettinger, 2012), or technology (Roscoe, 2015); markets with the possibility for resistance and rejuvenation (Maurer, 2003). What are the narratives that accompany alternative market forms – novel currencies (Maurer, Nelms, & Swartz, 2013), 'fairtrade' (Dolan, 2010) or 'bottom of the pyramid' (Dolan, 2013), the 'sharing economy', crowdfunding, or renting – and how do actually existing markets operationalise such ideas?

This also presents a critical challenge –what might the emancipatory possibilities of market studies be? What does the performative stance associated with much work in market studies mean for critical scholarship – is 'critical performativity' even possible? (Spicer, Alvesson, & Karreman, 2009; Tadajewski, 2010). What are the politics of markets and of market models? How are markets incorporated into systems of redistribution, 'development' and 'empowerment'? (Blowfield and Dolan, 2014). What orders of worth do they represent? Submissions might explore how local forms of worth and ethics are entangled in market arrangements; the processes (performative or otherwise) by which market models are brought into being and made thinkable; or the processes and practices through which market models, despite failure, are sustained and reproduced. How does market design interact with the construction of the institutions and procedures of contemporary political democracy?

Finally, how would we do it differently? How might we intervene in the design of the architecture of markets (Fligstein, 2001)? What can market studies say about economic engineering (Roth, 2002) or 'nudge' theory, fast becoming the guiding theories for contemporary policy? What should we say about algorithmic markets? Following recent innovative contributions to our field, we ask contributors to imagine the possibility for bricolage and 'hacking' of market arrangements[i], to ask if markets can solve problems[ii] and to explore the mundane and the everyday[iii], alongside the powerful and the political. We welcome innovative approaches, conceptual work, and blue-sky thinking – markets possible and impossible – as well as empirical accounts of actually existing market arrangements. In the end we hope to ask, with MacKenzie (2006), what kind of a (market) world might we wish to see performed.

Organisation and venue

 As in previous years, the Workshop will feature keynote lectures, parallel sessions and interdisciplinary discussions. We will make papers available beforehand. For this reason we ask you to make sure that your full paper is available in advance. Please email it to by Sunday 22 May 2016 at the latest.

The workshop begins with a wine reception, 5pm Wednesday 8 June. It will finish 4.30pm Friday 10 June. The Workshop will be held in the Gateway Building. Accommodation is in the University's Agnes Blackadder Hall, roughly five minutes' walk from the Gateway.

The cost of the workshop will be £260, which includes bed and breakfast accommodation on Wednesday and Thursday night, lunch on Thursday and Friday, and a dinner in the University's Lower College Hall on Thursday evening. Please note that it does not include dinner on Wednesday night.

Those who wish will be able to book additional accommodation on either side of the workshop at a discounted price of approximately £50 per night. Please use code IMSW on this link We recommend that you book additional accommodation soon as there is limited availability.

Information on getting to St Andrews can be found at We will email confirmed participants information about getting from Edinburgh airport to St Andrews.

Enquiries about the practicalities of the workshop should be sent to Philip Roscoe

Organising committee:

  • Kimberly Chong, University College London,
  • Hans Kjellberg, Stockholm School of Economics,
  • Alexandre Mallard, Ecole des Mines ParisTech,
  • Philip Roscoe, University of St Andrews,


Araujo, L., Finch, J., & Kjellberg, H. (Eds.). (2010). Reconnecting Marketing to Markets. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Blowfield, M. & Dolan, C. (2014).  Bottom billion capitalism: The possibility and improbability of business as development actor. Third World Quarterly, 35 (1), 22-42.

Dolan, C. (2013). Capital’s new frontier: From'unusable' economies to bottom of the pyramid markets in Africa. African Studies Review, 56 (3), 123-146.

Dolan, C. (2010). Virtual Moralities: The Mainstreaming of Fairtrade in Kenyan Tea Fields. Geoforum, 41 (1), 33-43.

Fourcade, M. (2011). Cents and Sensibility: Economic Valuation and the Nature of 'Nature'. American Journal of Sociology, 116(6), 1721-1777.

MacKenzie, D. (2006). An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Maurer, B. (2003). Uncanny exchanges: the possibilities and failures ofmaking change with alternative monetary forms. Environment and Planning D, 21(3), 317-340.

Maurer, B., Nelms, T. C., & Swartz, L. (2013). "When perhaps the real problem is money itself!": the practical materiality of Bitcoin. Social Semiotics, 23(2), 261-277.

McFall, L., & Ossandon, J. (2014). What's new in the 'new, new economic sociology' and should organisation studies care? In P. Adler, P. Du Gay, G. Morgan, & M. Reed (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents (pp. 510-533). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pettinger, L. (2013). Market moralities in the field of commercial sex. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(2), 184-199.

Roscoe, P. (2015). A moral economy of transplantation: Competing regimes of value in the allocation of transplant organs. In C. Helgesson, F. Lee, & I. Dussange (Eds.), Value Practices in Life Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roscoe, P., & Chillas, S. (2014). The state of affairs: critical performativity and the online dating industry. Organization, 21(6), 797-820.

Roth, A. E. (2002). The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics. Econometrica, 70(4), 1341-1378. 

Spicer, A., Alvesson, M., & Karreman, D. (2009). Critical performativity: The unfinished business of critical management studies. Human Relations, 62(4), 537-560.

Tadajewski, M. (2010). Critical marketing studies: logical empiricism, 'critical performativity' and marketing practice. Marketing Theory, 10(2), 210-222.


[ii] Following the ERC funded project