“The Market as a Social Space”

Dr. Virgil Storr’s article “The Market as Social Space: On the Meaningful Extraeconomic Conversations that Can Occur in Markets” published in The Review of Austrian Economics won second place in the 2009 Templeton Enterprise Awards’ article category and was also the winner of the FEE Prize for the best article in Austrian Economics (2009).

As the FEE Prize committee outlined: “In ‘The Market as a Social Space,’ Virgil Storr explores the noneconomic sociality that occurs in markets.  Drawing on Richard Swedberg’s insight that the market is a “specific type of social structure” that it is not just an abstract price-making mechanism, Storr develops a theory of how markets facilitate social activity and encourage noneconomic relationships.  The contribution of this paper is threefold.  First, he presents a more complete picture of real-world markets.  Second, by developing our understanding of markets as a social space, Storr provides a means for economists to engage in the ongoing debate taking place within sociology and anthropology.  This debate focuses on the relationship between economic activity and community, as well as the impact of economic interaction on social relationships.  Third, Storr extends Murray Rothbard’s insight that “in explaining the origins of society, there is no need to conjure up any mystic communion or ‘sense of belonging’ among individuals … In fact, it is far more likely that feelings of friendship and communion are the effects of a regime of (contractual) social cooperation rather than the cause.”

This article along with Dr. Storr’s “Weber’s Spirit of Capitalism and the Bahamas’ Junkanoo Ethic” (also published in The Review of Austrian Economics) will form the core of his book Understanding the Culture of Markets which is under contract with Routledge and should be finished this fall.