Market Relations as Social Relations: Prices and the Moral Economy of Corn and Bean Trading in Rural Nicaragua

The Politics and Ethics of the Just Price

ISBN: 978-1-78743-574-2, eISBN: 978-1-78743-573-5

ISSN: 0190-1281

Publication date: 19 June 2019

Abstract

This paper explores the contested notion of what constitutes a fair price in the context of grain exchanges in a subsistence farming village in the highlands of Matagalpa. Using ethnographic data, I show how Nicaraguan campesinos’ economic behavior plays out within a local moral universe of fairness: how much to produce and how much to sell in the market (or to give away); how prices and obligations vary depending on the social relation that binds the seller and the buyer (kinship, friendship, community, and so on); in what ways these notions of fair price are articulated and contested by different classes within a rural community; and lastly, what is expected of the State in terms of regulating food prices. Price emerges as the dialectic between the market in its abstract form and the specific social relationships and everyday politics that shape exchanges. What constitutes help (ayuda) and what constitutes exploitation in market exchanges and the determination of price is constantly contested, the moral economy is a discursive battlefield.

Keywords

Citation

Ripoll, S. (2019), "Market Relations as Social Relations: Prices and the Moral Economy of Corn and Bean Trading in Rural Nicaragua", The Politics and Ethics of the Just Price (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 113-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0190-128120190000039006

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited

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