Workshop "Markets as sites of diversity and cultural ...

- only by invitation -

Workshop

"Markets as sites of diversity and cultural interaction: Framing a research agenda"

Date: 14.12.09

Venue: MPI zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften, Göttingen

Organizers: Dan Hiebert (University of British Columbia / Malmö University) and Steven Vertovec (MPI MMG)

Generations of social scientists have been interested in the socio-cultural dynamics of urban markets, places where people from different ethnic origins and class positions converge to engage in commerce. Opinions vary on the consequences of these fleeting encounters. Furnivall, arguably the most important proponent of pluralism theory, believed that interaction in markets has little impact on relations between cultural groups; underlying animosities will not be improved by the market, for example. But the ‘contact hypothesis’ that is the foundation of so much contemporary theory in the social sciences (e.g., the massive literature on social capital) would suggest otherwise, that the market, as a site of cultural mingling and the production of social networks, generates effects beyond the simple exchange of products. If this is true, the market could be seen as playing an integrative role in society.

The Markets as sites of diversity and cultural interaction: Framing a research agenda workshop is designed to think about the socio-cultural characteristics and consequences of markets in highly diverse societies. We hope to build a framework for collaborative research on urban markets, which should take place in a number of countries and in different kinds of markets.