Markets Are The New Culture

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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13 Responses

  1. MikeSchilling says:

    The best Fry and Laurie are the Control and Tony sketches, which answer the burning question, what if LeCarre characters were goofy?Report

  2. cfpete says:

    “Of course, market forces really are a fiction.”
    Why are RIM and Nokia on the path to bankruptcy?
    I would attribute that to “market forces.”

    “Free Markets” do not exist in the positive Republican Party sense or in the negative implications implied by the Democratic Party.
    “Free Markets” is a slogan.

    “Markets” do exist. They existed in the USSR and they exist in North Korea.
    People will attain what they desire.
    Whether that be: drugs, guns, Levis or really crappy Pop music.

    You can attempt to make markets “fairer,” but what that usually translates to is making incumbents richer.Report

    • Erik Kain in reply to cfpete says:

      I think you’re responding to this post in an unfortunately expected way. Yes, markets do exist, in the same way culture exists.Report

      • cfpete in reply to Erik Kain says:

        Sorry if I misinterpreted, but you should not interpret that as “unfortunately expected.”
        I have a problem with “nuance.” It really cramps the social life and mostly deters me from online interaction.
        In short, it was not an ideological reaction – just a misreading.
        I apologize.
        Back to the drawing board.Report

  3. James K says:

    Of course, market forces really are a fiction. A mutually agreed upon one, to be sure, but only as tangible as we allow them to be.

    I think I see what you’re saying Erik, but I think market forces are much less contingent that culture is. Market forces are the product of how people respond to incentives, and that’s something that doesn’t really vary among humans, certainly nowhere near as much as culture does.Report

    • Chris in reply to James K says:

      Except that, in abstract, culture doesn’t vary all that much either. Really, culture is just how we respond to each other (in groups, at least). I’d suggest that those things are as invariant, in the abstract, as our responses to incentives. Granted, incentives constitute a small set of social conditions, while culture is composed of significantly more of them, but all that really means is that culture allows for more combinations of largely invariant (in the abstract) behavior patterns.Report

  4. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Why do you believe that markets exist at all?

    This isn’t a leading question. I’m honestly curious how you will answer it.Report

    • Erik Kain in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I think markets are a process – an interaction – that functions to various degrees within various given contexts. Fiction is probably me toying a bit with hyperbole and “convention” as you suggest below is likely a better term.Report

  5. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Erik, the more I think about this post the more vehemently I disagree with it.

    If the market is a fiction, what would constitute a fact for you? Presumably coercive things count as facts — but not an institution where a person may exercise an uncoerced choice. That’s fictional. Not real. Less worthy.

    It sits badly with your last paragraphs, because the social contract that gives us the chance to settle such issues peacefully is equally a fiction, in your sense, and the skepticism you express toward the market falls equally on it.

    May I suggest using the word “convention” instead? It carries a good deal less normative and ontological baggage. No one doubts the reality of conventional things, or the fact that humans may change them (with real consequences, of course). Conventions may be helpful or harmful, and each must be evaluated on its own merits.Report