boundaries of performativity, continued

Over on OrgTheory, a discussion of the apparent constancy of color perceptions morphed into a(nother) discussion of performativity and, by inappropriate extension, postmodernism and epistemological skepticism. Rather than hijack that post, I’m moving over here to post some thoughts and critique of Teppo Felin and Nicolai Foss’s paper, “Social Reality, the Boundaries of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, and Economics.”

Felin and Foss (hereafter, FF) present a critique of performativity theory, specifically Ferraro, Pfeffer, and Sutton’s (hereafter, FPS) discussion of the mechanisms of performativity. Unfortunately, FPS claim economics is performative and bad, so FF argue by contrast that it is natural and good. I won’t address the bad/good question, only the performative/natural question.

The crux of FF’s critique is on page 656:

A natural extension of FPS, and related strong forms of the argument is that any (even false) reality can be created through theory, language, and prophecy, which subsequently fulfills itself.

But this extension is anything but “natural.” In fact, the claims in FPS and the literature on which it builds emphasize mechanisms by which theories, including false ones, can affect reality. These mechanisms are key, but virtually entirely ignored in FF in favor of characteristics of the theory itself. Essentially, FPS claim that false theories have effects when they are widely believed to be true and encoded in institutional and technological innovations (“agencements“). The “natural extension,” then, is a straw man, since there is nowhere a claim that any false theory can affect reality. I cannot theorize that the tree outside my window is made of formaggio pecorino tartufo, convince my gullible graduate students of this, and go outside to begin a delicious feast. But the fact that I cannot do this says nothing about whether convincing, institutionally-endorsed false theories of behavior can affect behavior systematically and path-dependently.

FF’s alternative hypothesis is that “Theories…affect reality because they capture and explain underlying objective realities….” In other words, true theories affect reality; false theories don’t. But pause for a moment to consider: what constitutes a true theory? It is one that “capture[s] and explain[s] underlying objective reality.” Since true theories are claimed to be those that change reality, a theory that is true at T1, prior to its promulgation at T2, would no longer be true at T3, after that promulgation, since the reality it “capture[d] and explain[ed]” at T1 was changed by the trueness of the theory!

By contrast, consider a theory that, at T1, is false. At T2, it is widely promulgated, making it widely believed and institutionally/technologically instantiated. At T3 it could quite plausibly be more true than it was at T1 because, through the mechanisms described, the described behavior changed to match the believed and endorsed theory.

This comparison demonstrates that, contrary to FF’s contention, false-but-convincing-and-instantiated theories are more likely to change reality and become true than are true theories, since true theories that affect reality tend to become false!

It’s important to pay close attention to the mechanisms here. FF offer objective reality and human nature as the scope conditions on the performativity of theory; FPS, and the broader performativity literature, actually offer their own scope conditions in the form of mechanisms that must be in place for a theory to become performative. They must be widely believed and instantiated in technological and institutional arrangements. Unlike FF’s contention that truer theories are more effective–for which no evidence is actually presented–FPS stand on the widely-documented case of the Black-Scholes-Merton (BSM) equation: a theory that was relatively untrue at T1, was widely promulgated and convincing and instantiated in technical practices at T2, became truer at T3. FF simply claim, sans evidence, that

the underlying realities that the [BSM] model tapped into better explained a more true value of options

what evidence do we have that the model was “more true” than others? Well, the fact that it convinced enough people, and was widely enough adopted, that it “helped shape and change option prices themselves.” Truth here, in other words, has nothing to do with representing or capturing observable reality; it is an article of faith that the model must have reflected a deeper reality since it turned out to be effective. In other words: at T1, when the BSM model was developed, there was no way to evaluate whether it was true in the way FF understand it to be true.

By now it should be clear that this is a tautology. What theories affect reality? Those that are true. How do we know if they are true? Because they affect reality.

Part of the objection FF raise to FPS has to do with “mindlessness.” FPS (21) claim that:

theories become dominant when their language is widely and mindlessly used and their  assumptions become accepted and normatively valued, regardless of their empirical validity.

From this FF argue that FPS think “humans are ‘mindless’ and readily duped into false realities” (658). But there is no claim that humans are mindless in general, or that the duping is done “readily,” just that it is possible, and that when it happens, the conditions are ripe for the theory they are duped into to become dominant. FF essentially commit a macro version of the ad hominem fallacy: drawing a conclusion about human character from a claim about a particular human behavior.

It is certainly the case that there are important and strong scope conditions to performativity. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that there aren’t that many cases of truly performative theories, meaning theories that make themselves true. I think there are lots of theories that meet the lower standard of reactivity: that is, affecting the reality they conceptualize. I’m convinced that theories of public opinion are performative in a real sense, and my forthcoming article with Kate McFarland in the Annual Review of Sociology makes this case.

Certainly, the project of understanding the appropriate scope conditions of performativity (and reactivity) is an important one. However, I expect the project to be more fruitful when approached through the specification of mechanisms and necessary mediating conditions than when approached through the ontological assumptions of objective reality and human nature.

Author: andrewperrin

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

12 thoughts on “boundaries of performativity, continued”

  1. Andrew: this should be expanded and written up for a journal or something. The self-fulfilling mechanism is interesting/important and is often referred to in the social sciences, but I’m not so convinced that the underlying mechanisms are fully specified and understood. The self-fulfilling prophecy is essentially equivalent to performativity (Ezra also makes this point in his piece), that’s apparent for example from the first chapter of MacKenzie’s An Engine Not a Camera book.

    OK, here’s my concern. Rather than say that something “performs” or fulfills itself, something that potentially is false ex ante, why not specifically look at WHY! In other words, a central point is that actors face uncertainty and are making subjective assessments about the nature of reality. Yes, absolutely, they could be wrong. But that is NOT performativity or self-fulfilling prophecy, rather, more simply, a lack of information (or lack of time to process or gather further information). Can a false claim about reality instantiate itself? Sure.

    In the article we work through an example, the classic run on a bank. So, you might get information that your bank is in trouble, pull your money out, and thus the false statement may realize itself in the actions of individual (with limited information). Now, the reason is not “performativity” — it is the lack of information (or, we might, for example, cite “bounded rationality”). And, importantly, it might be that the situation corrects itself over time as well (as additional information becomes available, the bank perhaps assures customers, etc).

    I might note that in the context of interpersonal interactions and judgments, the self-fulfilling prophecy notion has pretty conclusively been refuted (see the work of Jussim, Funder, Kruger — though they also offer some important nuance, related to marginal effect size). The bottom line is, we update information based on interactions with reality (say, interactions with another person).

    What is quite interesting to me about the self-fulfilling dynamic is just how frequently it gets cited, though I think the self-fulfilling prophecy essentially has a pretty jaded conception of humans, how they are easily duped into just about anything (sure, there’s probably massive heterogeneity on that dimension). What about the alternative? What about self-NEGATING prophecies (or counter-performativity)? This presumes that individuals are actually able to ascertain the “false”-ness of some prediction and behave otherwise, or that reality perhaps “intervenes” on the prophecy. And, what if there are competing assessments about the nature of reality? Of course there are competing assessments, actors try to choose the best they can. Interestingly, the self-negating issue (as well as heterogeneity in judgments) gets no attention. Why? This makes salient the point that realities aren’t completely malleable (performativity, interestingly, actually counts on reality intervening, to tell its story) and that human judgments about actualities play a role.

    Now, have people had wrong conceptions of reality, absolutely. The sun does not revolve around the earth. Sure, Kuhnians and performativistas could have a heyday telling that story (or related ones told by STSers). But note that there is progression and adjustment over time.

    A central point of our paper is that you have to begin with some kind of ex ante reality, citing performativity is simply retrospective storytelling of what happened to have taken place.

    Now, the markets and economics context of course is highly interesting for these types of dynamics (self-fulfilling prophecies, social construction, etc) — given all the uncertainty associated with notions of value, expectations of the future, etc. What I do like about the performativity program is that it is getting its hands dirty in studying the actors, models, information etc associated with markets —- an important area of research. I most certainly think that there ARE important social construction processes going on, but they simply are not, at all, of the heroic variety that the performativity program of research claims. There is lots of opportunity for further work.

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  2. Andrew: A quick side note, a piece I ran into today (the setting of a ‘cultural market’), broadly related to our discussion – Salganik and Watts: http://spq.sagepub.com/content/71/4/338.short

    Was there a SFF dynamic in the market, yes: “we found that most songs experienced self-fulfilling prophecies, in which perceived—but initially false—popularity became real over time. [BUT] We also found, however, that the inversion was not self-fulfilling for the market as a whole, in part because the very best songs recovered their popularity in the long run.

    Anyways, so, both a SFF dynamic, but then also a correction. Interesting.

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  3. Andrew: a few notes on your post.

    1. Re: “Black-Scholes-Merton (BSM) equation: a theory that was relatively untrue at T1…. In other words: at T1, when the BSM model was developed, there was no way to evaluate whether it was true in the way FF understand it to be true.”
    Sorry, but this is simply not the case. See http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/realists-constructionists-and-lemmings-oh-my-part-i/#comment-78197, as well as that chapter-draft I linked to on orgtheory).

    2. Re: “FPS, and the broader performativity literature, actually offer their own scope conditions in the form of mechanisms that must be in place for a theory to become performative. They must be widely believed and instantiated in technological and institutional arrangements.”

    This statement grossly underestimates what counts as a reasonable baseline for making a contribution to social scientific knowledge. Who exactly would disagree that a theory is more likely to be self-fulfilling insofar as it has become widely believed and instantiated… etc.” Did anyone not believe this prior to the perfomativistas? Besides Merton on the sff and the Thomas Theorem, we also had labeling theory… and common sense. (And note the Frankel & Froot paper cited in that discussion I linked to above. These guys basically endorsed this statement in 1990 and I’m sure they had little knowledge of sociology.) And even if you think this was news, say, in 1998, it’s time to move on. Have we seen any progress in understanding which institutional conditions or technological arrangements are more likely to support sff theories?

    3. I don’t understand these statements or how they fit together:

    a. “However, I expect the project to be more fruitful when approached through the specification of mechanisms and necessary mediating conditions than when approached through the ontological assumptions of objective reality and human nature.”
    b. “I cannot theorize that the tree outside my window is made of formaggio pecorino tartufo, convince my gullible graduate students of this, and go outside to begin a delicious feast. But the fact that I cannot do this says nothing about whether convincing, institutionally-endorsed false theories of behavior can affect behavior systematically and path-dependently.”

    The main problem with the first statement is that it presents a false choice. Does anyone, who thinks that we need to make “ontological assumptions of objective reality and human nature” in order to clarify the conditions under which theories are self-fulfilling, disagree that the “project” will be “more fruitful when approached through the specification of mechanisms and mediating conditions”? To the contrary. The whole point is that it is in human nature and objective reality that we will find “those mechanisms and mediating conditions.” (I agree with Teppo that the Salganik & Watts piece is about the best empirical piece we have on this; it is more limited than the authors think though bc the anonymity of the participants eliminate mechanisms that support self-fulfilling prophecies in other domains)

    Moreover, let’s consider the second statement. When denying the charge of pure constructionism, you yourself are quick to bring up objective reality as a constraint– e.g., your failure to convince your students that the tree made of out of cheese. I’m a bit tired of such “faux reductio ad absurdum”* examples being trotted out to disprove charges of pure constructionism, when in fact statements elsewhere do indeed seem to imply such absurdity– to wit, your call for giving up “ontological assumptions of objective reality.” Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If you agree that the students are less likely to believe your theory about the cheesy tree than an alternative theory that is less verifiably false, then you agree that objective constraints must enter into the explanation of why some theories become adopted, and the conditions under which they are predictive. Meanwhile, you offer that a false theory must be “convincing, institutionally-endorsed” to be self-fulfilling. Hmmm…. but what makes a theory convincing and more likely to become institutionally endorsed? One obvious candidate is… if the theory in question does less obvious and verifiable violence to objective reality (e.g., is less absurd than your theory about the cheesy tree). This is of course not to say that only accurate theories become institutionalized (see e.g., my paper with Huggy Rao on the internet bubble). Rather, the point is that since objectively true theories are *more likely* to be endorsed than false ones, we need to start with objective reality in order to understand when a theory is more and less likely to become adopted (and then perhaps become more predictive as a result).

    A final point on this: the only reason that sff theories are newsworthy is because– as you yourself suggest in your treatment of BSM– they are objecively false (or at least less true than they become) when first stated. Given that, it seems important to get a handle on that objective baseline. Otherwise, there is no news.

    * I call these “faux reductio ad absurdum” (or maybe, “ad hominem-reductio ad absurdum” is better– my guess is that there is a real name for this out there, but I’m ignorant of it) because they seem to employ the following rhetorical trick. A accuses B of having an untenable extreme position P. B responds by saying, “of course I don’t endorse P. If I did, then I would believe X, and any fool knows that X is false!!” But in fact, P does imply X. It’s just that the belief that “B is sane” implies that “B doesn’t believe in X.” So, B is relying on consistency between a characterization of the person (“B is sane”) to deny an unwanted implication of a position that he otherwise holds (P). Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. A position has the implications it has regardless of whether its advocates want to vacate some of its implications. A classic example of this is when radical constructionists who assert no difference between science and religion then somehow reject the objection that this implies that there is no reason to prefer Darwinism to Creationism, or to reject Holocaust Revisionism. “But *of course* our position doesn’t imply *that*– you’re attacking a straw man!” they respond, with disdain. In fact, while the position may be made of straw, the man is not.

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  4. @1.teppo:

    • Why not look at WHY theories may be performative? I think that’s a great programme–but the WHY is directly conditioned on the HOW, which is what I see in much of the performativity literature. That’s the technical/institutional instantiation. I think one of the important things Teppo/Ezra/etc. miss in this literature is the agencement, the extent to which the theory is not just stated and not just convinced, but is encoded. On this point, see also Lessig’s Code.
    • The “run on the bank” example is performativity, because of lack of (complete) information — they’re not mutually exclusive. At T1, people come to believe that the (fully solvent) bank in which they’ve deposited money is insolvent. At T2, this belief becomes widespread and acted upon. At T3, it has become true because of the actions of depositors at T2. Ergo, it is performative. The reason performativity works, in this case, is inadequate and widespread incorrect information at T1. It is precisely because it is information (i.e., speech, communication), not practices or institutions, that is inaccurate at T1 that it is performativity. Again, it changes reality because it is wrong — if it were right, reality would not change. If the bank really were insolvent, it would still be insolvent at T3. If the bank really were solvent and the information conveyed that, it would still be solvent at T3. The reason why the theory has an effect is precisely because it is false in important ways. (NOTE the important ways — falsehood alone is certainly not sufficient.)
    • Self-negating prophecies: I’m not sure I understand what’s so exciting about these. I would imagine that they would have the same problem to you, that is, to the extent that they are self-negating, it remains language/representation that’s doing the work. Consider, for example, the plea of a desperate director of a nonprofit: “We are about to go bankrupt and will not be able to continue our work.” Supporters believe this at T1, donate money at T2, and the statement becomes less true at T3. The prophecy is self-negating, but I don’t see how it takes into account the “false”-ness of the prediction.
    • I think we agree on some important points: (1) that most theory is not (mostly) performative; (2) that to be “performed,” theory must not just be dominant and convincing but also enacted through personal behaviors, institutional arrangemetns, and technical interventions.

    @3.ezrazuckerman:

    1. The reference you provided doesn’t deny the claim I made. The fact that B, S, and M would have liked the performative character of their work (which is the point you pursue in the linked comment) is certainly true. But that they would liked it doesn’t make it not performativity. Perhaps most revealing about the comment you cite is this phrase:

      it’s a *new* model of what the option price *should be*.

      That recasts BSM as essentially a normative theory: how people ought to behave. But a normative theory cannot be “true” with respect to an empirical reality; “Everyone should be nice to one another,” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” cannot be true in the same way that “the price of Dell stock declined 0.85% Friday” is true.

      the fact that our model is still basically accurate and that all future models are built on its foundation indicates that our model was not just a self-fulfilling fad, but was actually a great model.

      This is a false choice, and a double-barrelled statement, all in one! “Self-fulfilling” does not imply “fad,” except under the external standards you have imposed. Nor does it contradict “great model,” except insofar as you’ve decided a priori that a great model must reflect an underlying, static, yet unobservable reality.

    2. If you don’t find it that novel, I don’t have much of an argument there. The context of my statement was to point out that FF’s “natural extension” of the performativity argument is that any theory can be performative, which is the basis for their introduction of objective reality and human nature as scope conditions. By contrast, the requirements that a theory become widely believed and institutionally/technical instantiated place historical and social processes–observable phenomena–as the scope conditions instead of unobservable, hypothesized constants. The so-called “performativistas” have done a lot of this work to examine those processes, whether in terms of the scrolled sheets of the Chicago exchange or the technical arrangement of a hedge fund.
    3. I will grant that my tree example was, well, cheesy. But I think you’re misunderstanding the point of it. The objective reality of the tree example is subject to external validation, including direct observation. The objective reality of the BSM case is not, as your own example demonstrates. You can’t evaluate whether BSM are right or wrong with respect to objective reality at T1, or alternatively you can evaluate it, and they are wrong! Whichever of these you choose, BSM’s truth-claim at T1 is analytically distinct from that of the cheesy-tree example.

      It is possible–and even empirically investigable–that “one obvious candidate” for “what makes a theory convincing and more likely to become institutionally endorsed” is that it “does less obvious and verifiable violence to objective reality” than competing theories do. And of course, this is an obvious candidate, and is frequently the case. But not always–again, as the BSM and the run on the bank examples show us. In both of these cases, a theory is convincing and institutionally endorsed even though it doesn’t actually represent reality! Indeed, “obvious and verifiable” violence *is* done, as the bank seems to be working fine at T1, and the options market’s prices are not well captured by BSM! The only way we can conclude in these cases that it is truth value that makes these theories convincing and endorsed is if we simply state, tautologically, that theories that are convincing and endorsed must be true.

      Finally, a semantic issue that reveals a theoretical distinction. Ezra reads my post as suggesting that we disavow the existence of objective reality and human nature. Heavens, no! My position is simply that we can’t just assume that these are the scope conditions; Ezra thinks I’m therefore disavowing objective reality and human nature in general. For the record: I doubt that these are nearly as static as they are often treated, but I have no doubt that either exists.

      The reason I think this issue is not just semantic is this. In both the postmodernism firestorm and now in this one, the claim of constructionism is taken as an indictment. BSM is somehow worse if it is implicated in a constructionist history. Things are less real, less true, if they are the product of historical and social processes than if they were somehow presocial. It would be radically inconsistent to claim that things being socially constructed makes them less real or less true, particularly given the generic claim that everything is socially constructed. But that unstated assumption runs through proponents and detractors alike. If we dispense with that assumption we can conclude that, like Newman, there’s less to constructionism (and, by extension, postmodernism and performativity) than meets the eye.

      To my mind the performativity claim follows a line of French theory beginning with Durkheim (the collectivity “makes” the individual), through Foucault (the discourse evokes its own necessary subject). Yes, the terminology comes from Austin and the idea that certain phrases make things happen. But the Callon/MacKenzie crowd have not actually claimed that the mere statement of the theory makes it true. I’ve heard that Bourdieu offered a critique of Austin noting that, e.g., a priest pronouncing a couple married is not [just] language doing the work but the social position of the priest in a system, but I haven’t seen the argument myself. It does directly parallel the insistence among the performativity crowd that we examine the historical/institutional/technical processes that make theories performative.

      To reiterate what I said before, I suspect that true performativity is rare, although a weaker cousin, reactivity, is quite common. To make the terminological swamp worse, there’s another phenomenon called “performativity,” endorsed by scholars like Judith Butler and Jeffrey Alexander, which as far as I can tell shares next to nothing with the Callon/MacKenzie tradition. In that literature, performativity is about people performing roles or identities.

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    1. Excellent comment!

      One quick thought re: Butler, performativity, and Callon – have you seen the exchange in the Journal of Cultural Economy (2010) between Butler and Callon over precisely this issue? It’s fairly short and interesting and addresses precisely these issues around “felicity conditions” or “ilocutionary vs perlocutionary” performativity. I think Butler gets it a bit wrong in suggestion that Callon et al have ignored the perlocutionary, but the exchange is very interesting in any event.

      Also germane, Butler in that piece actually moves away from this focus on the speaker in performativity, and includes things like networks of objects performing gender and so on.

      Last, I think some of this argument boils down to one of those hard to teach but vital tenets of sociology: things are real because they are constructed, their construction does not make them “less real” but rather explains how it is they came to be real. Performativity lies in that tradition – how did the BSM model come to be a relatively true one? How did traders learn to “see” and trade implied volatility? Etc.

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  5. Some quick responses.

    1) The WHY of performativity. So, the problem is that not everything performs (speech acts, model assumptions, etc), right? And to simply track an instance of performance, well, just is storytelling rather than a theory. If something ‘false’ happens to instantiate itself, well than you can dig into the subjective beliefs, expectations, models, technology, social structures etc of the actors involved — but note that these are best-efforts to understand the world (under uncertainty).

    *PUT DIFFERENTLY, performativity samples on the dependent variable rather than look at the ex ante efforts of the actors — the next point, heterogeneity, relates to this.

    2) The problem of ex ante heterogeneity (say, regarding information about x/run on bank). So, actors have different conceptions (models) and these compete before there is any performance —- surely their effort is to choose the ones that best fit the world.

    3) Self-negating versus self-fulfilling prophecies. You’re right, the self-negating prophecy argument makes my points (interesting, though, that the self-fulfilling one get widely more attention — that says something about our assumptions about human nature), precisely. Actors don’t just buy into models — they think, test, talk, interact, etc. Are there mistakes, sure, but models etc get constantly updated as actors interact with each other and the environment.

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    1. I think we have more agreement than disagreement. I want to emphasize that my point is not a grand defense of performativity, but a more limited argument as to why I find the specific scope conditions offered in your article (human nature and objective reality) unsatisfying theoretically. Hence I’ve been pushing on the necessity of these conditions as scope conditions.

      1.) I don’t know the literature well enough to make a blanket statement, but I haven’t seen anything where the claim is that we can predict performative outcomes. I don’t know that it’s “storytelling” — it’s an account, a genealogy, an explanation. These are all well within the realm of theory in social science.

      2.) Again, complete agreement – of course their effort is to choose the best-fit theories. But there are times when they are systematically wrong, and this systematic wrongness has demonstrable, large effects. The point here is smaller than I think you’ve taken it to be; I’m just saying that in some important cases, objective reality is not an adequate scope condition on performativity, not just because it doesn’t constrain ex ante beliefs but also because it’s the very mismatch between objective reality and theory that makes the theory have effects.

      3.) Again, I think my point is smaller than you’ve taken it to be. By thinking, testing, talking, etc., actors seek to bring theory into alignment, and in many cases they are successful. But because of various institutional, genealogical, and technical processes, they are sometimes unsuccessful, and this sometimes has significant effects. But I still don’t see how the self-negating prophecy makes your points; I think, just like performativity, that it’s a type of case where the effects of ideas can increase as their incorrectness increases.

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  6. Andrew:

    I think I’ve been clear on the points that you responded to, and I frankly think that your response indicates a lack of effort in trying to understand what I have written on this issue, both in my post and in the other pieces I linked to (and which you say you’ve read). The alternative hypothesis is that I’ve just been incoherent. Besides self-interest, the reason I prefer the former hypothesis is that in addition to betraying a lack of understanding of what I wrote, your post also: (a) misunderstands things that should be clear regardless of anything I have written– e.g., that the value of an option certainly can be established, at least within bounds and at least ex post (just hold it until it’s either in the money or not, and see what the option bought you in return at that price); and that a tool is not a normative theory; (b) suggests that you have very low standards for what it takes to validate an empirical claim — e.g., your satisfaction with the fact that ‘agencement’ has ever been demonstrated to have a causal effect relative to a reasonable counterfactual; (c) accuses me of things I clearly did no say– e.g., twas not I who claimed that bank runs are not an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy; and (d) avoids the substance of an issue (that accepting that objective reality is real and constraining is just lip service if it doesn’t enter into your theory) by making wild accusations as to motive– e.g., that “the claim constructionism is taken as an indictment”. In fact, if you look at my work on stock market, you will see that what animates it is the recognition (captured most eloquently by Keynes) that prices are what speculators collectively make them, and that they can send prices quite far from intrinsic value for long periods of time. Hmm… so why does it appear to you that I am attacking constructionism per se? There are two hypotheses above, and I prefer the first.

    This is my last post on this thread, but I promise to read anything that comes next.

    Ezra

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  7. Dan: Hadn’t seen those JCE pieces – thanks for bringing them up.

    Andrew: So, I think more work is needed (which we probably agree on) to tease out the exact specifics, mechanisms and boundaries — the 1) objective reality, and 2) human nature points were a broad stab at addressing some big issues. I don’t think the performativity argument is the way to go (due to the problems mentioned above — though I like the more micro focus on actors, their tools, models etc in markets). Various types of social construction processes of course play out in markets and certainly deserve to be more carefully explicated — I find this a rather intriguing issue, at the nexus for econ and soc.

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