There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market and the competitive process in particular. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. This book explores this interface in a number of ways, looking at the competitive process and market relations from a number of different perspectives. It considers the social role of economic institutions in society and examines the various meanings embedded in the word 'markets', as well as developing arguments on the nature of competition as an instituted economic process. The close of the twentieth century saw a virtual canonisation of markets as the best, indeed the only really effective, way to govern an economic system. The market organisation being canonised was simple and pure, along the lines of the standard textbook model in economics. The book discusses the concepts of polysemy , idealism, cognition, materiality and cultural economy. Michael Best provides an account of regional economic adaptation to changed market circumstances. This is the story of the dynamics of capitalism focused on the resurgence of the Route 128 region around Boston following its decline in the mid-1980s in the face of competition from Silicon Valley. The book also addresses the question of how this resurgence was achieved.
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Between markets, firms and networks:
constituting the culturaleconomy
Cultural and creative sectors have come to represent key areas of growth
within a number of regional and national economies, and figure prominently
within arguments regarding the increasingly ‘cultural’ character of economic
processes and the restructuring of market forms. An emergent culturaleconomy is also of critical interest for institutional analysis, and for a number of
reasons. Firstly, such an analysis addresses very clearly the need to take culture
that of the distinctiveness of the operations of ‘cultural industries’. She
addresses the debate about whether we currently can be said to have a ‘culturaleconomy’ with newer principles of operation than those of an older
industrial economy. Finding it hard to understand the producers in terms of
the products being sold, she argues that attention should be paid instead to
the role of specialised knowledge involved in the framing of goods to be sold
in cultural markets. Distinctive firms, labour contracts and mixed forms of
governance imply a definition of the
granted and because it has become acknowledged
as the basis of more effective market behaviour. As a result, corporate intervention in these processes has become more reflexive, more rationalised and
more institutionalised within corporate structures and divisions of labour.
The conclusion of this kind of analysis is quite simply that we do not live in
a ‘more cultural’ economy, or a society of the sign, or an enculturated economy but that we do live in a world that has opened up the black box of the
social object, institutionalising and rendering reflexive processes
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location or distance, as opposed to a map that is primarily grounded in a representation
of physical space and the objects contained within it.
3 Plato is arguably the originator of this kind of thinking. In the Protagoras he equates the
movement of water with the slipperiness of sophistry, counselling the titular character
(one of the first sophists) to avoid sailing out into the open sea of false speeches and misleading rhetoric.
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Missing persons and colonial skeletons in South Africa
bodies to rural homesteads, as well as scripting funerals. Under their
direction, and as access to refrigeration removed the need for haste,
funerals became far larger and more important occasions, thereby
‘[inventing] a new culturaleconomy of burial in which … the bodies
of their dead [were lavished] with resources unavailable to the bodies of the living’,28 signalling a politics of the everyday.
From the mid-1970s onwards, as youth politics exploded on the
scene, funerals were rescripted and came to constitute an important
182 Nicky Rousseau