Surely the absence of a sociology of morality has to be one of the major weaknesses of academic sociology, and a mysterious one at that. For Durkheim, one of sociology's founding fathers, morality was to have a central place as an object of inquiry; moreover, he was passionately interested in it on the existential level, as was Weber.
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.
Purpose – Due to an absence of dialogue between sociology and the neurosciences, the scientific study of morality largely ignores cultural and structural influences. This…
Purpose – Due to an absence of dialogue between sociology and the neurosciences, the scientific study of morality largely ignores cultural and structural influences. This chapter offers a synthetic approach integrating these separate disciplines to aid a more complete understanding of morality.
Design/methodology/approach – This chapter reviews morality's bonding (a sense of groupness and belonging) and bounding (reproducing and reinforcing group boundaries) qualities across disciplines, and proposes three provisional principles to systematize an interdisciplinary model of morality. We then offer a preliminary illustration of how this model might be operationalized with functional MRI data.
Findings – Our proposed principles (as exemplified by our illustrative example) suggest that the sociology-neurology gap in understanding the domain of morality might shrink through an engagement with the underlying neural mechanisms that encompass issues of empathy, racial attitudes, and identity as potential platforms opening up a more “social” neuroscience.
Research limitations/implications – This chapter provides a starting-point for further research incorporating biological mechanisms into sociological theories in the area of morality. The illustrative case study should be replicated in a larger sample and/or in additional studies with different social groups.
Practical implications – This chapter is a useful source of information for sociologists seeking to find out more about the intersection of neuroscience and sociology as well as the neural dynamics of morality.
Originality/value – This chapter presents an introduction to an integrative approach recognizing our biological capacities for a socially constructed morality and the interaction between society and the mind. It includes one of the first sociologically oriented fMRI studies, offering avenues for new ways to bridge research disciplines.
Zygmunt Bauman's work is a case study in the possibilities of postmodernism for sociology. Characterized on the one hand by a gloomy epistemology about knowledge and…
Zygmunt Bauman's work is a case study in the possibilities of postmodernism for sociology. Characterized on the one hand by a gloomy epistemology about knowledge and morality in a postmodern world and on the other, by provocative new concepts to empirically describe a postmodern world, Bauman's work evidences a key tension within postmodern thought. Is it possible to reconcile Bauman's pessimistic epistemology with his optimistic sociology? My argument is that if we recast Bauman as a critical theorist and his method as dialectical immanent critique, we can see how his positive empirical concepts are based on his negative epistemology. In this way we can make sense of the complexity of Bauman's work and appreciate his prophetic abilities. The complexities and possibilities of postmodern thought in general become clearer as well.
Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of dispositions are forever forming associations… of a thousand different types — religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute … [for] the greatest number of purposes … Nothing in my view deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America,  1945).
A common charge against qualitative researchers in general and interactionist researchers in particular is that they produce descriptive, a-theoretical accounts of group…
A common charge against qualitative researchers in general and interactionist researchers in particular is that they produce descriptive, a-theoretical accounts of group life. We consider the problem of “analytic interruptus” in contemporary symbolic interactionism – that is, a failure to move beyond analyses of individual cases – and offer a potential to a solution via the pursuit of a generic social process (GSP) research agenda. A GSP approach involves developing, assessing, and revising concepts from the close scrutiny of empirical instances across diverse contexts. By considering criticisms of GSPs from feminist and postmodernist scholars, a more informed, qualified, and better-situated approach to the framework becomes possible. We argue that GSPs remain a quintessential analytical tool to explore subcultural realities and build formal theories of the social world.
This chapter questions the way virtue ethics is being drawn into debates about the ethics of social research. In particular, it suggests that discussion of virtue may be…
This chapter questions the way virtue ethics is being drawn into debates about the ethics of social research. In particular, it suggests that discussion of virtue may be motivated by a desire to counter existing, largely principlist, approaches to the ethics of research and its associated administrative structures; virtue ethics has a prima facie appeal for those who are seemingly in need of an alternative moral philosophy. In addition, I argue that, as it stands, the complexity of virtue theory is not fully reflected in, or acknowledged by, debates about the ethics of social research. In the light of these remarks I suggest that the resources of social research can be drawn upon to generate critical theoretical insights into the ethics of social research. I discuss how a normative understanding of practices, and the concept of synderesis understood in a broadly Bourdieuan framework, could provide a starting point for such critical insights. I conclude that this perspective might be taken to suggest that the ethical stance most appropriate to the culture of social research is one of ongoing critical engagement.
The relationship between ontology, realism, and normativity is complex and contentious. While naturalist and realist stances have tended to ground questions of normativity…
The relationship between ontology, realism, and normativity is complex and contentious. While naturalist and realist stances have tended to ground questions of normativity in ontology and accounts of human nature, critical theories have been critical of the relationship between ontological and normative projects. Queer theory in particular has been critical of ontological endeavors. Exploring the problem of normativity and ontology, this paper will make the case that the critical realist ontology of open systems and complex, contingent, conjunctural causation deeply resonates with queer theory, generating a queer ontology that both allows for and undermines ontological and normative projects.
Purpose – We delineate how the concept of reputation has been used in different literatures. We develop some formal definitions of observers and reputation that bring…
Purpose – We delineate how the concept of reputation has been used in different literatures. We develop some formal definitions of observers and reputation that bring together the different literatures. We then ask how noncooperative or “bad” reputations might be repaired. Based on the developed definitions and past research, we suggest some possibilities for reconciliation. We also work on developing an experimental paradigm to investigate reputation.
Methodological/Approach – We review research from different disciplines, develop definitions, and design an experiment.
Findings – We suggest that, under certain conditions, group reconciliation can occur. However, these conditions are quite specific.
Practical Implications – When the goal is to solve a social dilemma, reconciliation is an important part of the process. Without reconciliation, group integration is problematic.
Social Implications – Reconciliation can be a powerful process that encourages cooperation. We suggest some ways that reconciliation might be possible.
Originality/Value of the Chapter – This chapter suggests a new formalization to connect different conceptualizations of reputations.