Accepted Paper:

Stressed responsible subjects: market, state and moral obligation and the paradoxes of the economy  

Author:

Susana Narotzky (Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines tensions between state and market forms of regulation and other morally regulated systems of household provisioning of resources including care. I will draw on paradoxical concepts such as “fictitious commodities” to highlight a theoretical twist obscuring the dialectics of self-interest and mutuality in standard economic models.

Paper long abstract:

The proposed paper stems from a 10 year long project on "reciprocity as a human resource" and on "forms of responsibility regulation in informal economic and political processes". The research team has compiled a wealth of ethnographic material that I will compare in order to address several theoretical questions about the articulation of 1) different forms of moral obligation (responsibilities), 2) the accumulation and the reproductive aspects of economies (growth and sustainability) and 3) the production of social cohesion (regulation and institutionalization). The paper will examine tensions between state and market forms of regulation and other morally regulated systems of production and of household provisioning of resources including care.

I will draw on the analysis of paradoxical concepts such as "commodity fetishism", "fictitious commodities" and "social capital" in order to highlight the centrality of a theoretical twist obscuring the dialectics of self-interest and mutuality in standard economic models. Questions addressed are:

How are mutual responsibility bonds that convey the transfers of resources (material, emotional, knowledge) produced? What are the diverse frameworks of these economic moralities? When, how and why do the practices and material transfers supported by various moral responsibilities collapse? What are the effects of this for social cohesion?

It is increasingly obvious that the debate on economic processes and social cohesion needs to include aspects of what has been variously termed "économie solidaire", "community economies", "care economies", "moral economies". This paper wants to contribute to such theory building.

Panel W002
Markets, kinship and morality