Economic markets as calculative collective devices

Abstract : How to address empirically the calculative character of markets without dissolving it? In our paper, we propose a theoretical framework that helps to deal with markets without suspending their calculative properties. In the first section, we construct a broad definition of calculation, grounded on the anthropology of science and techniques. In the next sections, we apply this definition to three constitutive elements of markets: economic goods, economic agents and economic exchanges. First, we examine the question of the calculability of goods: in order to be calculated, goods must be calculable. In the following section, we introduce the notion of calculative distributed agencies to understand how these calculable goods are actually calculated. Thirdly, we consider the rules and material devices that organize the encounter between (and aggregation of) individual supplies and demands, i.e. the specific organizations that allow for a calculated exchange and a market output. Those three elements define concrete markets as collective organized devices that calculate compromises on the values of goods. In each, we encounter different versions of our broad definition of calculation, which we illustrate with examples, mainly taken from the fields of financial markets and mass retail.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00087477
Contributor : Fabian Muniesa <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 24, 2006 - 5:24:40 PM
Last modification on : Monday, November 12, 2018 - 10:56:08 AM

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Michel Callon, Fabian Muniesa. Economic markets as calculative collective devices. Organization Studies, SAGE Publications, 2005, 26 (8), pp.1229-1250. ⟨10.1177/0170840605056393⟩. ⟨halshs-00087477⟩

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