The workshop focuses on the productive life of uncertainty and its exploitation by the rapidly expanding European gambling industry. It investigates the contrasting ideas about risk and uncertainty made visible by gambling practices across various conceptual, territorial and political boundaries.
Since the 1980s in Europe and the United States in particular, risky methods of generating income, including gambling, became domesticated and mainstream, with the support and encouragement of governments from both sides of the political spectrum. Discourses concerning the value of work, saving and thrift were partially displaced by those of speculation, particularly through house and share ownership. The increased availability of credit meant that participation in markets came to define citizenship. In that context, uncertainty was recast as providing opportunities for profit to those able to gain access to markets of various kinds. In Europe alone, gambling is worth an estimated €89 billion. It is characterized by local markets, regional regulation and globalising technologies. What can gambling ethnographies tell us about different ways of dealing with uncertainty? How does gambling compare with other forms of taking risks such as trading or entrepreneurship? What do gambling practices reveal about local social dynamics within and across national borders? How does technological innovation transform gambling practices? How do specific gambling practices translate in different jurisdictions? In this panel, we propose to examine the expansion of the gambling industry in Europe and the way gambling is practiced and developed across borders of different kinds: historical, geographical, regulatory and conceptual.