May 15, 2017

Sociologie des marchés

“Sociologie des marchés: Marchés, Morale, Mouvements sociaux (Sociology of markets: markets, morals and social movements)”, University of Neuchâtel (since 2016)

  • Lecturer: Philip Balsiger
  • Program: elective graduate seminar, Masters in social sciences, 5 ECTS
  • Duration: one semester; 13 weeks
  • Class size: 8 students
  • Focus: The sociology of markets and the question of morality in the market. Students reflect on how discourses on morality embed markets, through readings and discussions on recent research in economic and cultural sociology as well social movement studies. Theoretical questions and methodological tools are treated, with illustrations from existing examples (e.g., public debates on the debt crisis in Greece, the arrival of Uber on the market for transport and the reaction by taxis, or different forms of “political” or sustainable consumption). The issue of sustainability is treated in various ways: as an action repertoire of lifestyle movements, as a commitment by “political” or ethical consumers, as an instrument of environmental policy by governments, or as a form of value-creation on markets.
  • Topics discussed: Market sociology; Sociology of morality; Ethical consumption; Social movements and markets; Valuation; Private regulation
  • Novel approach: the use of « response papers », or a short 1-2 page reaction to an article or two articles that respond to the following questions:
    1. what is the main challenge or problem the author is addressing?
    2. what are the main argument and central point?
    3. what proof or empirical evidence is given, and 4) what are the strengths and weaknesses of the text?
  • Student evaluation: term paper and discussions around readings.
  • Course evaluation: Students appreciate the readings and discussions in the class favoured by small class sizes, the variety of empirical cases discussed, and the possibility to engage more deeply with a subject of their choice in their term paper.