Economy and Society


Scene of Urban Life, Hong Kong, May 2012
(photo by Didier Fassin)

Theme for 2019 - 2020

How to study and conceptualize the relationships between economy and society has been a central problem for the social sciences from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, from Max Weber to Karl Polanyi. Over the last few decades,  profound transformations in the functioning and regulation of the global economic order, the distribution of income and wealth, and the world of labor have generated new empirical and intellectual challenges. The social sciences have undergone a startling evolution, too, with economists turning to experimental methods and the study of various aspects of social life, including inequality and social mobility, while sociologists, anthropologists, historians, legal scholars and political scientists have developed new empirical and theoretical approaches to the study of markets, finance, risk and value. It is at the intersection of these two movements – in the world and in the academy – that we want to situate the Theme “Economy and Society.”

Research on this theme will bring together the various disciplines of the social sciences and humanities. Topics can include, among others, questions related to market structure and economic action, financial cultures and technologies, the rise of automation and algorithms, the moral regulation of nations and individuals, old and new forms of labor and labor organization, the economic and political impact of immigration, the transformation of life-styles and subjectivities, the valuation of persons and goods, and the place of economics and economists in social and governmental practices. Because these phenomena and the way people experience them vary across countries, the projects presented and the scholars who propose them should reflect this diversity. All types of inquiry are welcome, but we are especially interested in works that seek to connect empirical investigations, be they archival, ethnographic, statistical, etc., and theoretical analysis.

The Theme “Economy and Society” will be led by Marion Fourcade, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Didier Fassin, the James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study.