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8 posts from January 2014


Call for papers: Association for Social Economics sessions at 2015 ASSA meetings

Association for Social Economics

Call for Papers

Allied Social Science Associations Annual Meeting
Boston, MA, January 3-5, 2015

THEME:  Commodities, Commodification and Alternatives to Exchange


In his 1944 book, The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi explored how the expansion of markets and the commodification of land and labor had transformed human relations, separating the economy from the rest of social life. He also asserted that resistance to commodification was as natural as commodification was planned. Seventy years after publication of this landmark work, what have social economists learned about the processes of commodification and decommodification? How should we augment or amend Polanyi’s analysis in the wake of the dismantling of social welfare states and the rise of neoliberalism?

For the ASE sessions at the 2015 ASSA meetings we welcome proposals for papers on all aspects of social economics, especially those dealing with the process of and limits to commodification. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • What ethical principles guide the exchange of commodities? What, if any, ethical principles are slighted?
  • What can be learned from case studies or deep analysis of specific commodities?
  • How do other processes besides the exchange of commodities play a role in provisioning and in the development of human capabilities? Specifically, what role do self-provisioning, transfers, gifts, and/or indebtedness continue to play in our economic lives?
  • How do alternatives to exchange complicate our understanding of the motivations involved in economic behavior—including exchange behavior?
  • Are there limits to commodification of spheres of human interaction? Should there be?
  • How have people resisted commodification (of labor, land and natural resources, caring, etc.) through collective behavior?
  • What are the implications of expanding commodification on the natural environment, social and cultural life, or psychological functioning?

To submit a paper or a session, please go to the proposal submission area of the ASE website (under Conferences > ASSA > Proposal submissions). Proposals should include a 250-word abstract, all authors’ names and institutional affiliations, and contact info for the corresponding author including email address. Proposals for complete sessions are also welcome. Submission deadline is April 15, 2014.

Individuals whose papers are accepted for presentation must either be or become members of the Association for Social Economics by July 1, 2014, in order for the paper to be included in the program. Membership information can be found at www.socialeconomics.org.

All papers presented at the ASSA meetings are eligible for the Warren Samuels Prize, awarded to the best paper that advances the goals of social economics and has widespread appeal. Papers can also be considered for a special issue of the Forum for Social Economics. Details of these opportunities will be sent to authors of accepted papers


Non-Neutral Media Actively Impacts the Economy

Journalists would like to think of themselves as neutral, merely reporting on events unfolding in society and the economy. While a growing minority of journalists see themselves as actively seeking to influence society, most actually think of themselves as outsiders reporting but not influencing developments. Whether they are aware of it or not, however, journalists are not neutral.

Reviewing the literature in economics in their forthcoming article in the Review of Social Economy, Killian McCarthy and Wilfred Dolfsma argue that the media impacts society and the economy in a number of different ways. Because of their choice of themes and their style of reporting, the media, for instance, sets public agendas and perceptions of risks, influences elections, and impacts consumers and views of managers. However fickle the reporting in the media is, it actually alters firm decisions that have long term strategic consequences such as patenting. Journalists, including those who see themselves as neutral may be well-advised to take note and reflect: they are no outsiders that can think of themselves as taking a detached and objective position.

WilfredWilfred Dolfsma is a full professor at the University of Groningen School of Economics and Business.  He is editor-in-chief of the Review of Social Economy (with Bob McMaster); in 2013 he published Government Failure (Edward Elgar), Interdisciplinary Economics (Routledge), and Understanding Mergers & Acquisitions in the 21st Century (with Killian McCarthy; Palgrave).


Call for papers: Panel on “The Crisis: Scholarship, Policies, Conflicts and Alternatives” in Naples

IIPPE’s Fifth International Conference in Political Economy

“The Crisis: Scholarship, Policies, Conflicts and Alternatives”
Naples, Italy

September 16-18, 2014


Call for Papers – Panel organised by Social Capital Working Group


The Dark Side of Social Capital:

Alternative Ways of Understanding and Confronting Corruption, Distrust and Conflicts


Asimina Christoforou, Athens University of Economics and Business

Luca Andriani, Birkbeck, University of London


Putnamian conceptions of social capital tend to focus on the positive side of associational behaviour. Norms and networks are usually conceived as factors that are naturally and inevitably conducive to protecting social interests by cultivating social cohesion, generalised trust and inclusive networks of heterogeneous social groups. This often overlooks the underlying norms and networks developed to serve the particularised interests of smaller groups at the expense of public welfare.

The surge of corruption scandals across countries reveals numerous stories in which public officials are accused of embezzlement of taxpayers’ money, while citizens appear to conceal their assets to safeguard them from tax authorities by using legal ‘loopholes’ particularly in global transactions. There are talks of states that essentially are not run by constitutionally-defined government bodies but by covert coalitions of high-powered individuals and groups that use whatever means are at their disposal to determine the fate of entire countries and regions for their personal benefit. The inequality in the distribution of rights and resources triggers a sense of injustice and distrust toward state institutions that promised to protect public welfare and toward the social groups that appear to take part in the misappropriation of public wealth. This gives rise to social conflicts and polarisation and thus opens the door to extreme expressions of discrimination and oppression against groups, like ethnic minorities and immigrants, who often take the blame for the worsening of economic and social conditions, after they have been driven out of their own countries to avoid poverty or persecution. For example, studies on the current global crisis speak of major financial and political actors that orchestrate the deregulation of domestic and global markets, and stress the unhindered and intractable flow of financial assets toward toxic bonds or tax havens that profit the few by transferring the costs of the systems’ failures to society through austerity measures that only deepen the depression.

In this context, we would like to study the so-called ‘dark side of social capital’, forms of association that are anti-social in that they exclude segments of the population and compromise social welfare. Some topics can include: definitions and cases of corruption; the rise in distrust toward market and state institutions and its consequences in the course of the history and the reformulation of power relations; the conflicts that emerge in different countries as a result of the worsening of economic conditions and the international reshuffling of interests. The current crisis can provide an important case study, but is not the only source for investigating the ‘dark side’.

We would particularly encourage contributions that explore ways in which the ‘dark side’ can be overcome by new forms of social groups and networks that trust in their values of social solidarity to reclaim the welfare of the people. This would stress the conditions under which norms and networks of trust, cooperation and reciprocity can be re-assessed and re-structured to confront the ‘dark side’ and create an environment to serve generalised interests. We welcome works that derive from various social science disciplines and use different units of analysis (individual, regional, country or cross-country level), methodologies and techniques (theoretical, empirical, qualitative and quantitative).

Abstracts (500 words maximum) should be submitted to Asimina Christoforou (asimina.christoforou@gmail.com) by 20 March 2014.


Call for papers: PRME Working Group on Poverty Conference, Nicaragua, July 2014


PRME Working Group on Poverty Conference, 28-30 July 2014, INCAE, Nicaragua

Leveraging Innovative and Cross-Country Learning for Poverty Reduction: Climbing the Economic Ladder: Examples from and for Nicaragua

The conference announcement can be found here and the call for papers can be found here.

Gerard Farias
Associate Professor of Management
Silberman College of Business
Fairleigh Dickinson University
285 Madison Avenue, M-MS1-05
Madison NJ 07940
Phone: 973-443-8879


Call for papers: Workshop on "Scientific Misconduct and Research Ethics in Economics," August 2014

Call for Papers

International Workshop on

Scientific Misconduct and Research Ethics in Economics

Date: 21-22 August 2014

Venue: Swiss Hotel Grand Ephesus, Izmir, Turkey

Workshop calendar:

   16 March 2014: Deadline for abstract submissions

   4 May 2014: Notification of acceptance

   27 July 2014: Deadline for full-paper submissions

Website (infomation and submissions): http://econethics2014.org/

Workshop committee: Altug Yalcintas, Ankara University; Robert McMaster, University of Glasgow and the Review of Social Economy; Wilfred Dolfsma, University of Groningen and the Review of Social Economy

Keynote speakers: James Wible, University of New Hampshire, and Stephen T. Ziliak, Roosevelt University

Workshop fee: 250 € (payable upon arrival). Workshop fee includes participation in the workshop, lunches, and coffee breaks. Our intention is to waive the workshop fee for all PhD researchers This is currently under negotiation with our sponsors.

Local organizing team : Altug Yalcintas, Ankara University; Mehmet Basaran, Collective Minds; and Funda Demir, The Netherlands Institute for Higher Education in Ankara.

Please note that the workshop is limited by 20 participants. Information with regard to lodging and transportation will soon be available on the workshop website.

Since the screening of Inside Job in movie theatres around the world in 2010, research integrity in economics has been questioned by scholars and public intellectuals. Prestigious economists and policy makers are accused of conflicts of interest (Ferguson 2010) while prominent economists are charged with plagiarism and self-plagiarism. Recently, errors and omissions in a number of influential papers, uncovered in 2013 by UMass researchers, caused scholars to raise serious questions about the reliability of findings in economics. Some of these economists replied to accusations about themselves while many others have preferred not to respond at all. These days, economists hear the following question more often than before: “what is wrong with economics?”

Despite serious concerns regarding the honesty of economists, scientific misconduct in economics, entailing plagiarism, fraud, and fabrication of data, has been among the issues drawing inadequate attention and remaining unexplored. The number of publications on the collective responsibility of economists is too small and there are only a few undergraduate and graduate courses in the US and Europe where economics students are taught about breaches of research integrity. Research ethics is not part of the standard curriculum in many research universities.

Concerned by the unresponsiveness of the community of economists about the significance of the problem, we invite authors to submit paper proposals to a two-day workshop on Scientific Misconduct and Research Ethics in Economics to be held in Izmir, Turkey in August 2014. Submitted articles will first be reviewed by the workshop committee, involving Altug Yalcintas, James Wible, and Wilfred Dolfsma, for inclusion in the workshop. A selection of workshop papers will then be invited to the regular submission process of the Review of Social Economy for publication in a special issue on the same topic. Guest editors of the special issue will be Altug Yalcintas and James Wible.

In this special issue, we aim at opening a platform for debates on the nature, scope, and pervasiveness of questionable research practices in economics.

  • Nature of questionable research practices in economics: Why do economists involve themselves in breaches of research integrity? How should one explain the violation of the principle of “truth-seeking”?
  • Scope of questionable research practices in economics: What are the forms of breaches of research integrity in economics? What has ethics got to do with it?
  • Pervasiveness of questionable research practices in economics: What is the frequency of cases of breaches of research integrity in economics? Are these cases just a few “bad apples” or are they a real threat to the reliability of economic research?

Research topics that we would welcome in this special issue include but are not limited to:

  • Cases of scientific misconduct and best practices of scientific conduct in economics (such as the editorial policies of Econ Journal Watch publishing scholarly comments on “inappropriate assumptions, weak chains of argument, phony claims of relevance, and omissions of pertinent truths” as well as American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Econometrica, Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, Empirical Economics, and Labour Economics, among others,making research data and codes available on the websites of journals so that potential readers are able to replicate the results that papers reach. See, for instance, Dewald, Thursby, and Anderson 1986 and the website of “Journal Data Program Archives”.)
  • Cases of scientific misconduct in social and natural sciences as analyzed from an economic perspective (such as Hoover 2006; Arce, Enders, and Hoover 2008; Ziliak and McCloskey 2008; Lacetera and Zirulia 2011).
  • Surveys providing evidence on the extent of fraud, lack of financial disclosure, conflicts of interest etc. (such as Gaffney and Harrison 2007; Feld, Necker, and Frey. 2012; Enders and Hoover 2004; List et al. 2001).
  • Replication failure, epistemic costs, intellectual path dependence (Wible 1998; Yalcintas 2013; Ramell 2013; Folbre 2013).
  • Student misbehavior and teaching scientific misconduct in undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • Normative issues: accountability and proposals for reform (such as codes of conduct, oaths, and honorary systems, see the 2013 Special Issue of the Review of Social Economy 71 (2), “Oaths and Codes in Economics and Business”)

See below the break for a list of related work.

Continue reading "Call for papers: Workshop on "Scientific Misconduct and Research Ethics in Economics," August 2014" »


Call for participants: NEH Summer Institute on "The Meanings of Property"

Project Title: The Meanings of Property

Project Director: Ann E. Davis, Associate Professor of Economics, Marist College

Project Description: A four-week interdisciplinary NEH summer institute for twenty-five college and university faculty to explore the changing definitions of property, June, 2014, in Poughkeepsie, New York, located in the Hudson River Valley.

This interdisciplinary summer institute will focus on "Meanings of Property," inviting notable scholars in related fields to Poughkeepsie, New York, coordinated by Ann E. Davis, Project Director and Associate Professor of Economics at Marist College. The 25 participating college and university professors in the summer institute will engage in discussion with Mary Poovey, literary scholar at New York University, Alan Ryan, Professor Political Science at Princeton University, John R. Searle, Professor Philosophy from University of California at Berkeley, Hendrik Hartog, Professor of History at Princeton University, Stuart Banner, Professor of Law at the University of California at Los Angeles, Kenneth Pomeranz, Professor History at University of Chicago, and Robert J. Goldstein, Professor of Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point, as well as hear presentations by Marist Academic Vice President Thomas Wermuth and Director of the Hudson River Valley Institute Col. James Johnson.

The concept of property has been central in modern legal and political theory, as a foundation for economic institutions, and as an instrument for individual freedom. The protection of individual private property was the motive for the "social contract" by which the state was formed. Property also motivates individual initiative, informs international relations, as well as provides the underlying rationales for global cooperation. Property is ostensibly a rock solid foundation for the economy and the society, with presumable material reality.

The conventional meaning of property is self-evident and invariant: it is a concrete tangible object. Recent work in linguistic philosophy, literary studies, legal theory, and economic sociology, nonetheless, has discussed property as an institution, as an example of a "social fact." That is, authoritative public declarations both create and describe certain institutions, like money and property. For example, property in a parcel of land can be created by issuing a legal title, which then authorizes the designated owner to sue any intruders for trespass within its boundaries. Once recognized and accepted by individuals, these declarations then coordinate and guide their actions. This collective recognition constitutes social institutions, based on shared understanding and acceptance of common purpose and legitimate behavior. Such a "social fact" becomes true because each person treats it as an accurate description of everyone's behavior.

This alternative institutional meaning of property could change the perspectives of public policy makers and scholars, as well as citizens. This summer institute will explore the relevance and persuasiveness of various contrasting perspectives on property. In a time in which the term "property" applies to genetic code, water rights, literary works, land, ideas, financial assets, and software code, this summer institute will prepare participants to engage in further research, exploration, and teaching. The Institute welcomes participants in all disciplines, including history, philosophy, political science, economics, legal studies, sociology, and literary studies.

Marist College is located in Poughkeepsie, New York, in the center of the historic Hudson Valley directly on the shore of the Hudson River. Participants will have access to the libraries of Marist, Vassar, the New York Historical Society, and other nearby historic sites. The college is an easy commute to New York City and to Albany, and the Catskill Mountains. The Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College has archives and resources regarding the history of the region, and the Marist College library has original documents regarding the twentieth century environmental movement.

Contact information:  Ann Davis at ann.davis@marist.edu

More information: http://www.marist.edu/management/neh

See also resources at the Hudson River Valley Institute: http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/


The Social Economics of Contract Killing

Standard economics and intuition would say that the price received for killing another human being would be high: it is extremely risky and may require a lot of skills. There is no evidence for this, however. A forthcoming article in the Review of Social Economy disproves this intuition. Contract killers tend to receive a surprisingly low price for their service.

In this article Professor Sam Cameron analyzes a unique dataset collected in the larger London (UK) area and shows that the price for a contract kill is actually shockingly low. In many cases, the killer, assignee, and killed know at least one of the other, and social relations, sometimes intimate ones, are involved in many contract kills. As such relations would increase the chances of being caught dramatically, one would expect anonymous contact between supply and demand in this market in particular. The more people know about a crime, the more likely for information about it will leak to the police. Overcoming the moral objections against killing may in many cases only happen when social relations weigh in, however.

The market for contract killing is, thus, not like a market from an economics text book, as one would expect it to be, but rather one in which social relations and social values play a (dark) role.

WilfredWilfred Dolfsma is a full professor at the University of Groningen School of Economics and Business.  He is editor-in-chief of the Review of Social Economy (with Bob McMaster); in 2013 he published Government Failure (Edward Elgar), Interdisciplinary Economics (Routledge), and Understanding Mergers & Acquisitions in the 21st Century (with Killian McCarthy; Palgrave).


Martha Nussbaum delivers a brilliant plenary address for the Association for Social Economics at 2014 ASSA meetings

1207With Chicago blanketed in snow and no flights leaving O'Hare Airport, University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum appeared by Skype to present the opening plenary address of the Association for Social Economics during the 2014 meetings of the Allied Social Science Associations in Philadelphia last week.

After being introduced by incoming ASE president Mark D. White, Professor Nussbaum delivered her speech, entitled "Economics Still Needs Philosophy." She focused on a number of areas in which philosophy could enhance economic thinking, including justice (particularly global justice); noncommensurability of values; pluralism and liberalism; relativism and universalism; free will and responsibility; emotion and desire; and justification of ethical and political systems. Throughout her address, Professor Nussbaum suggested ways in which economists could consider each of these topics within their work, and cited recent work in which economists were taking important steps toward doing this. She concluded her talk by commending the Association for Social Economics for emphasizing the links between law and social economics in its 2014 program.

1202Technical problems prevented the audience from asking questions of Professor Nussbaum following her address, but spirited discussion continued during the Association's reception after the talk. The Association wishes to express its sincere gratitude to Professor Nussbaum and the University of Chicago Law School for their cooperation in making this event possible given the extreme weather following New Year's Day, and we look forward to more fruitful collaboration in the future.