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A long hiatus

It has been a very long time since the blog was updated, over a year. In that time, I've been quite busy. The Money Special Issue is now completed and in the publishing queue. I really enjoyed working with my co-editor, Mario Schmidt, and all the authors: Anna Echterhölter, Martin Fotta, Martin Holbraad, Ville Koskinen, Peter Oakley, and Emanuel Seitz. Nigel Dodd generously wrote an excellent afterword that takes a wide, historical view in situating the special issue and its 1papers.

Category: money materialities, special issue, publications, Social Analysis, monies

Weapons of the Geek

With contract papers in hand, I can finally announce that my book has a publisher. Weapons of the Geek: Moral economies and twenty-first century consumer capitalism in virtual worlds will be published by Palgrave and the manuscript will be due in eighteen months. I'm very pleased to have found a home with Palgrave, and am excited about the manuscript. Some of the chapters are based on material from my dissertation, Everyday Economists, but some are new. I have just finished the first draft of a brand new chapter on property forms in virtual worlds this week, which will be chapter three in the book, so the next week or two will be devoted to the second draft!

Category: weapons of the geek, book, virtual worlds, Final Fantasy XI, Second Life

Digital Monies Beyond Cryptocurrencies: Money Politics and Materialities in Games and Virtual Worlds

Recently Nigel Dodd and I had a little chinwag about virtual monies. Nigel has been giving a number of talks lately at Bitcoin and hacktivist money workshops and conferences in connection with his new book, The Social Life of Money. Conversations around these new money forms are breathing new life into some key debates in the study of money, especially around politics and moralities of monies. These "new" monies, I use that descriptor with some reserve, seem to be challenging ideas about who can issue money, what money should be for and for whom money should exist.

Category: call for papers, virtual monies, virtual worlds, gaming, money politics

Social values and cocoa pods

What if an entire economic sector tried to improve the dignity or defend the rights of farmers, instead of maximising profits or monetary rewards?

Category: Fairtrade, Ghana, Guest Post, cocoa beans, consumption

Some extensions of Ambiguous Goods

The first quarter of 2014 has seen two articles finally nearing the end of the publishing queue and two more out for revision - as well as all the usual job applications. Admittedly not much has been happening on the blog, but behind the scenes I'm certainly keeping busy. I'll be giving some further updates about the other material, but today I'm going to think through how the writing I did about ambiguous goods and categories of people and things in the virtual world Final Fantasy XI extends into my current project on affluent migrants and grocery shopping in Moscow, Russia.

I've written before about the ambiguous goods paper. You can read it either in early view on the Journal of Consumer Behaviour's website or check it out on my Academia.edu page. Looking back at this article, I'm happy with how it takes apart the somewhat ambiguous idea of ambiguous goods and starts to build a theoretical toolkit for how we might conceptualise and use this concept. In my research with Western grocery shoppers and their adventures in Russian shops there certainly are a large number of ambiguous goods - things that evade classification or are subject to duelling classifications.

Category: ambiguous goods, research, Journal of Consumer Behavior, publications, grocery shopping

A Workshop!

Inspired by advertisements on the Moscow Metro whose general theme was a denial of any global financial crisis, a few months ago I met with colleagues Chris Swader and John Round here at the Higher School of Economics to talk about our common interests in contemporary Russian urban economic life. With our different specialisations, we had quite a bit to talk about. At the time I had put in a proposal for a special issue to the Journal of Consumer Culture and had been politely asked to join up with some colleagues with more editorial experience. Chris and John were enthusiastic, so we began talking about a workshop that could lay the groundwork for a potential special issue. After much discussion, funding research and budget planning, we came up with some good angles. The call for papers is now available and I've set up a provisional page with information about the workshop here on Everyday Economies. The workshop will be in October, and as the date grows closer there will be more information about logistics, invitations, visas and places to stay.

Category: Higher School of Economics, HSE, workshop, call for papers, consumption

Some thoughts on Wozzeck, money and moralities

Much scholarly ink has been spilled about Berg's masterwork, Wozzeck, though most of it is about the work's contribution to atonal music (including debates about whether it should be so classified) and the development of modern opera. Ostensibly, Wozzeck is about a man who dies after killing his wife - not an unusual story in patriarchal societies, and certainly not so uncommon in tragic opera or theatre. That one sentence summary left out a few details: Wozzeck drowns while disposing of the murder weapon - a knife - and in the Covent Garden production, the singer is submerged in a tank of water for much of the last act; Marie was his common-law spouse; and nearly every character in the opera seems morally bankrupt. The opera consists of three acts with five scenes each but is not nearly as long as that description suggests, with an approximate running time of just over ninety minutes. Though Wozzeck is historically and artistically important, the opera also deserves consideration for its powerful critique of poverty, bourgeois moralities and inequality.

Category: Money Monday, opera, Wozzeck, moralities, discrimination

Bonn Digital Culture Conference

In early October I gave a paper at the Digital Culture - Promises and Discomforts workshop in Bonn. The paper was about transhumanists in Second Life, using some serendipitously generated data from seven interviews. Transhumanism isn't necessarily in my area, but the discussions were really quite fascinating. There aren't many academics writing specifically about transhumanists who aren't actually transhumanists themselves - except a few scholars of religion - so this odd set of conversations seemed like a good topic to write about. The presentation went well - or so it seemed to me - and the paper was well-received. I ran out of paper copies, and had brought quite a few, so that's maybe a good sign. (There may also be a research article worth writing about giving away papers at conferences, and the obligation to accept or to ask for them, but that's a topic for another day.)

Here is the abstract.

Category: transhumanism, Second Life, virtual worlds, digital cultures

Money Multiplicity Workshop

At the end of this month I'll be giving a paper at a workshop in Frankfurt called Taking materiality of money’s multiplicity seriously, which has been organised by the Value and Equivalence research group at Goethe University. The paper builds on some ideas explored previously in Money Monday posts. This is part of a new research project about monies and materialities. For now the interviews have been with expatriates in Moscow, but in the new year I'll begin interviewing Moscovites as well.

Category: conferences, Russian rubles, conversions, papers, materialities

Virtual Money and Moralities

I've had a paper accepted in Distinktion about virtual monies and moral boundary drawing. Economic sociology generally avoids questions or morals and moralities - though anthropologists and historians deal with such issues under the rubric of 'moral economies'. Yet in my doctoral fieldwork (and going forward), moralities have played a very significant role in respondents' accounts of economic lives and how economies work. This is especially true with respect to money. 'Good' and 'rational' money management - as defined by a particular middle class sensibility emphasising savings, investments and debt only for purchasing durable, appreciating assets like property - are framed as a matter of morals more so than opportunities and knowledge. Such ideas circulate widely, but are especially vicious in Britain's public sphere. When Jamie Oliver criticised the 'massive fucking TVs' and poor eating of impoverished people in Britain he rightly lambasted for showing a staggering lack of empathy and understanding about poverty. But his remarks are not only a commentary on class in Britain, or a critique of sedentary lifestyles, or poor nutritional choices. They spring from a classist and moralising critique of money use. This juxtaposition of luxury goods -- big televisions -- with cheap calories -- chips and cheese -- is part of a very old story story indeed about privileged people making judgements about how poorer people use their money.

Category: virtual worlds, monies, moralities, virtual monies, publications