Moral struggles in and around markets abound in contemporary societies where markets have become the dominant form of economic coordination. Reviewing research on morality and markets across disciplinary boundaries, this introductory essay suggests that a moral turn can currently be observed in scholarship, and draws a direct connection to recent developments in the sociology of morality. The authors introduce the chapters in the present volume “The Contested Moralities of Markets.” In doing so, the authors distinguish three types of moral struggles in and around markets: struggles around morally contested markets where the exchange of certain goods on markets is contested; struggles within organizations that are related to an organization’s embeddedness in complex institutional environments with competing logics and orders of worth; and moral struggles in markets where moral justifications are mobilized by a variety of field members who act as moral entrepreneurs in their striving for moralizing the economy. Finally, the authors highlight three properties of moral struggles in contemporary markets: They (1) arise over different objects, (2) constitute political struggles, and (3) are related to two broader social processes: market moralization and market expansion. The introduction concludes by discussing some of the theoretical approaches that allow particular insights into struggles over morality in markets. Collectively, the contributions in this volume advance our current understanding of the contested moralities of markets by highlighting the sources, processes, and outcomes of moral struggles in and around markets, both through tracing the creation, reproduction, and change of underlying moral orders and through reflecting the status and power differentials, alliances, and political strategies as well as the general cultural, social, and political contexts in which the struggles unfold.
We thank Mike Lounsbury and Patrik Aspers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. We also gratefully acknowledge the University of Neuchâtel’s sponsoring of the workshop that ultimately inspired this volume. Our gratitude goes to all the participants in the workshop and the authors of this volume for their enthusiastic contribution.
Balsiger, P. and Schiller-Merkens, S. (2019), "Moral Struggles in and Around Markets", Schiller-Merkens, S. and Balsiger, P. (Ed.) The Contested Moralities of Markets (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 63), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20190000063009
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