Market of Ideas

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What has economics got to do with culture?

We have a working title 'What has economics got to do with culture?' though Isobel rightly points out that Niccolo's question was more like 'What is cultural about economics?'. The question may be for answering on the day. It may simply be a matter of cultural possibilities. Read our cultural interpretation of Bruno Latour's Traceability.

Markets are good at convening and distributing resources. Based on the model of the ancient bazaar, Critical Practice will convene a Market of Ideas in which 'stalls' staffed by artists, anthropologists, economists and others exchange their knowledge with the milling crowd.

A wish list of particpants and draft letter of invitation

• Person from nef's 'Centre for Global Interdependence' that has ideas about food waste - MA has contacted / will chase

• Evan Davis (BBC Economics Editor)

• Stephanie Flanders (Newsnight's Economics Editor)

• Tim Jackson - Professor of Sustainability, University of Surrey

• Ask our economists contacts on Monday 11th for suggestions

• an Actor Network Theorist (on the connection between economics and cultural producer)

• Someone from LETS

• Someone from the Treasury!

• A Green Party representative

• Someone from a Time Bank scheme

Areas of Interest

  • Basic Income
  • Well-being/Happiness
  • 0% Growth
  • Behavioural Economics/Rationality - see Tim Harford

Some useful texts

Ideology and Economic Development by Michael A. Lebowitz -

The CP session

This section is to try and clarify what our sense of the market is and how it might work? This will help us to engage our economists and approach any 'experts'.

What day is it on: Sunday
What time: sometime between 1 and 4pm
What is the format of the CP session: ?
Will we have an introduction?
Will we have a discussion - in what form?

What is our role?
After a crash course in economics (over dinner) members of the working group are ruminating on potential stalls for the market.

How do experts participate in the market?

In the abstract we say the crowd is milling - what kind of exchange will this allow for?
Will the market benefit from a 'surgery' format similar to musical chairs - each concession has a 15 minute time slot. The crowd will be forced to choose which to visit.

What do we see as our responsibility to the crowd?
Are we in danger of leaving people hanging - so 'what do I do with this knowledge?'

What constitutes a 'stall' - the nature of the stalls/concessions?
Can each offering be devised in such a way to become a resource i.e. experienced remotely. This means the market is freeer - there is limited exclusion from the Ideas e.g those manning the stalls, negative choices, absentees. Also, provided material is available in advance, 'experts' involved in the stalls would have knowledge of the other arguments for discussion.

Will CP offer a flat-fee to develop resource-oriented ideas for the market? Previously the amount has been determined by the needs of the contributor.

What about costs e.g. travel?
Niccolo says they have some funds left to pay people to come

Niccolo says there will be a publication and documentation but perhaps we can consider our own needs (for institutional output and 'open source' resources e.g. publication).

Gabriel Tarde via Bruno Latour via Trevor Giles and Cinzia Cremona

An attempt at applying some of the ideas presented by Bruno Latour at the LSE (podcast here). The ideas seemed to resonate with the informal reasoning for a Market of Ideas. It needs tightening up (see notes on discussion page).

If, with Latour, we look at what is generally described as the 'social' as a process of 'association', then Culture, as one of any number of connectors (?that may define a socialised identity?), - religion, law, science, technology, politics, organisation, fiction, etc - is performative. In other words, culture produces associations and 'subjects in progress' (Kristeva) in the act of producing itself. Rather than an entity (or something more than the sum of it's parts) think of 'the social' as a composite, a collective comprised of component monads (individuals). In other words, "the whole is never bigger than the part, but is the part itself expressed in a certain intensity and connected differently" (Latour, as accurate a quote as possible). From a scientific and philosophical view structure is an effect of distance - a perspective. The closer we look the more clearly we can discern the components that constitute the composite. see note 1. Within Critical Practice we appreciate the value, reflected in Latour's position, of a perspective that shifts back and forth between the composite/collective and its components. This is one aspect of the process of self-reflection.

Culture is empowered in some sense to be whatever it does. When we appreciate economics as a component of Culture we reflect the determining effect of economics upon Culture. However, since economics is also a performative connector - being constructed through monad economists and others - a (and not necessarily the same) culture is also a component of economics. see note 2.

This activity is not lost on economists, who according to Bruno Latour and and also Tim Harford have a tendency to work with models rather than practice or evidence (empirically flawed as science). Analysing this within the field of anthropology of economics Donald MacKenzie asks if markets are performative - made by economists through the performance of values.

Do cultural practitioners (and other 'monads') experience a similar agency to that of economists? An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets by Donald MacKenzie connects to Critical Practice proposed session at the Congress - is it necessary in culture to propose Ideas in an effort to influence the structure of the composite? Differing models of economy being informed by differing (external) values. What we might do at the Congress is critique those values and perform alternatives. see note 3.

According to Latour, connectors are the vehicles that carry the 'truth condition' of association. see note 4. They are not external binding conditions (as Durkheim thought), but composites of individual behaviour. From this point of view, I imagine our market as a composite of composites (each stall). Each stall can be quite different. I am keen to set up some activity (a bit like the value game), through which information can be experienced directly, experimentally, without really knowing what conclusion one will come to.

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