Theme Call. Valuation and critique in the “good economy”

Theme Call for Abstracts 

Title: Valuation and critique in the “good economy”

Editors: Kristin Asdal (University of Oslo) & Liliana Doganova (Mines Paris)

This Valuation Studies theme call proposes to investigate contemporary attempts at perfecting economic practices by bringing together the pursuit of profit with the pursuit of other forms of “good”. We use the term “the good economy” to refer to a wide array of initiatives, discourses and models that aim at entangling the production of economic and social value(s) (Asdal et al., 2021; Doganova & Karnoe, 2015; Nicholls, 2009). They include envisaging markets as the relevant locus for addressing collective concerns and solving public problems (Frankel et al., 2019; Neyland et al., 2019) but also a striking variety of innovations that have proliferated under the motto of “doing well while doing good”: social and clean-tech entrepreneurship, impact investing and purpose-driven organizations, shared value, environmental accounting and the triple bottom line, circular economy,  bioeconomy and natural capital.

The good economy raises many interesting questions for valuation studies which the papers in this theme issue are invited to address. What is “the good” in these new economic practices? What are the tools and procedures by which valuations of not only the quantitative, but also the qualitative and normative, happen? In other words, how is “the good” being brought into the economy? How to study such doing well while doing good endeavours while taking into account not only the tools involved, but also the very objects of valuation (Asdal, 2015)? What kind of objects, natures and subjectivities does a good economy produce? And what is the theological nature of an economy that engages with the good and the bad (Schwarzkopf, 2020)?

Of particular interest for this theme issue is the role and registers of critique in the good economy. An earlier Valuation Studies editorial note suggested that “critique and valuation are two angles for considering the same thing” (Doganova et al., 2014). Attention to moments of critique is indeed a distinctive analytical characteristic of two lines of literature that have been foundational for the field of valuation studies: the analysis of controversies and the “de-scription” of technical objects in science and technology studies (Akrich, 1992; Latour, 1988), and the focus on practices of justification that appeal to manifold, and sometimes conflicting, “orders of worth” (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006). The question we ask here is: how does critique happen in the good economy? How is critique fuelling the good economy, being experimented on or done by new means and capacities?

We invite empirically grounded papers that examine how different sites, procedures and tools of valuation are involved in the good economy and how different registers of critique can be seen to be part of these good economy endeavours. What happens when valuation devices and discourses blend economic value with other forms of value deemed inherently good? Do they run the risk of disarming critique? Is it possible to create a dialogue between studies examining how the economy is opening up to social and environmental issues in a move towards “responsibilization”, and studies examining the “economization” of society and the environment (Çalışkan & Callon, 2009; Shamir, 2008)? Can rendering visible different versions of economization perform critique by other means (Asdal et al., 2021)? How can we extend the critical repertoire of economization beyond “marketization”, “financialization” or “neoliberalization” (e.g., Birch, 2019; Cooper et al., 2016; Berndt, 2015; Chiapello, 2015)? And finally, what happens to valuation studies when it turns to empirical settings in which actors routinely perform its distinctive analytical gesture: bridge the divide between “value” and “values” in the practice of valuation (Dewey, 1939; Helgesson & Muniesa, 2013; Muniesa, 2011; Stark, 2009)?

Expressions of interest shall be submitted in the form of an extended abstract to the editors (about 1,000 words) by September 15, 2022. Selected authors will then be invited to submit first drafts of full papers for a discussion at a workshop that will be organized in Paris on January 12-13, 2023, and then full papers for peer review by the end of March 2023.

Important dates

September 15, 2022:                               Extended abstracts due

October 1, 2022:                                      Notification of authors

January 7, 2022:                                       First drafts of full papers due (for workshop discussion)

January 12-13, 2023:                               Workshop in Paris

March 31, 2023:                                       Full papers due (for peer review)


Akrich, M. (1992). The De-scription of technical objects. In W. E. Bijker & J. Law (Eds.), Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change (pp. 205–224). The MIT Press.

Asdal, K. (2015). Enacting values from the sea: On innovation devices, value practices, and the co-modification of markets and bodies in aquaculture. In I. Dussauge, C.-F. Helgesson, & F. Lee (Eds.), Value practices in the life sciences and medicine (pp. 168–185). Oxford University Press.

Asdal, K., Cointe, B., Hobæk, B., Reinertsen, H., Huse, T., Morsman, S. R., & Måløy, T. (2021). ‘The good economy’: A conceptual and empirical move for investigating  how economies and versions of the good are entangled. BioSocieties

Berndt, C. (2015). Behavioural economics, experimentalism and the marketization of development. Economy and Society, 44(4), 567–591. 

Birch, K. (2019). Neoliberal Bio-Economies? Palgrave Macmillan.

Boltanski, L., & Thévenot, L. (2006). On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton University Press.

Çalışkan, K., & Callon, M. (2009). Economization, part 1: Shifting attention from the economy towards processes of economization. Economy and Society, 38(3), 369–398.

Chiapello, E. (2015). Financialisation of Valuation. Human Studies, 38(1), 13–35. 

Cooper, C., Graham, C., & Himick, D. (2016). Social impact bonds: The securitization of the homeless. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 55, 63–82.

Dewey, J. (1939). Theory of valuation. University of Chicago Press.

Doganova, L., Giraudeau, M., Helgesson, C.-F., Kjellberg, H., Lee, F., Mallard, A., Mennicken, A., Muniesa, F., Sjögren, E., & Zuideren-Jerak, T. (2014). Valuation Studies and the Critique of Valuation. Valuation Studies, 2(2), 87–96.

Doganova, L., & Karnoe, P. (2015). Clean and profitable: Entangling valuations in environmental entrepreneurship. In A. B. Antal, H. Hutter, & D. Stark (Eds.), Moments of Valuation: Exploring Sites of Dissonance. Oxford University Press.

Frankel, C., Ossandón, J., & Pallesen, T. (2019). The organization of markets for collective concerns and their failures. Economy and Society, 48(2), 153–174. 

Helgesson, C.-F., & Muniesa, F. (2013). For What It’s Worth: An Introduction to Valuation Studies. Valuation Studies, 1(1).

Latour, B. (1988). Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Harvard University Press.

Muniesa, F. (2011). A flank movement in the understanding of valuation. The Sociological Review, 59(s2), 24–38. 

Neyland, D., Ehrenstein, V., & Milyaeva, S. (2019). Can Markets Solve Problems?: An Empirical Inquiry into Neoliberalism in Action. Goldsmiths Press.

Nicholls, A. (2009). ‘We do good things, don’t we?’: ‘Blended Value Accounting’ in social entrepreneurship. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 34(6), 755–769. 

Schwarzkopf, S. (2020). The Routledge handbook of economic theology. Routledge.

Shamir, R. (2008). The age of responsibilization: On market-embedded morality. Economy and Society, 37(1), 1–19. 

Stark, D. (2009). The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton University Press.