Dave Elder-Vass

Dave Elder-Vass
Loughborough University | Lough · Department of Social Sciences

Open access versions of my publications are available from the publications page of my website, eldervass.com

About

76
Publications
4,627
Reads
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2,438
Citations
Citations since 2017
39 Research Items
1585 Citations
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Introduction
Thank you for your interest in my work. Open access versions of my publications (just the intro chapter for books) are available from the publications page on my website eldervass.com Please download them from there rather than asking me to send them! Thank you

Publications

Publications (76)
Book
Value is central to the market sectors of the contemporary economy, yet the best-established theories of value fail to expose how it operates and how it is manipulated for profit. This book begins to reconstruct the theory of value. In one sense, it argues, value is a personal assessment of worth, but those assessments draw deeply on normative stan...
Article
This chapter develops an innovative explanation of the social structures implicated in the construction of financial value. In particular, it explains asset circles: an asset circle is a set of potential investors who see a particular security as investible in the sense that they are aware of its existence and would be prepared to purchase it in th...
Article
This chapter brings us to the heart of finance: the Wall Street investment banks. It discusses the structured securities through which they parcelled up and re-sold the loan repayment commitments of mostly poorer residential property buyers in the United States, leading to the crash of 2007–2009 and the global financial crisis that followed. The ob...
Article
Financial value, as I use the term in this book, is the monetary value of a financial asset: a belief or claim about what it is worth. Academic understandings of financial value are dominated by the marginalist tradition of mainstream economics, and so this chapter begins by explaining the profound inadequacy of this approach to financial value. It...
Article
The introductory chapter outlines the argument of the book and positions it both politically and intellectually. Politically, it challenges the naturalisation of financial assets as unproblematic objects with value in their own right and thus as just one more commodity that it is perfectly reasonable to buy and sell for profit. In reality they are...
Article
Value is central to the market sectors of the contemporary economy, yet the best-established theories of value fail to expose how it operates and how it is manipulated for profit. This book begins to reconstruct the theory of value. In one sense, it argues, value is a personal assessment of worth, but those assessments draw deeply on normative stan...
Article
The spectacular, if erratic, growth in the price of Bitcoin since its first implementation in 2009 has attracted substantial public interest. Unlike the stocks promoted by venture capitalists, it is not simply another instance of a well-established asset class, but rather a completely new asset class. Unlike those stocks, it is not promoted by well...
Article
In recent years a series of new companies have been launched onto the stock exchange at extraordinary valuations. This chapter investigates how shares in such companies come to be valued so highly, paying particular attention to the role of venture capitalists in constructing the value of unicorns and similar companies. In doing so it provides the...
Article
Value is central to the market sectors of the contemporary economy, yet the best-established theories of value fail to expose how it operates and how it is manipulated for profit. This book begins to reconstruct the theory of value. In one sense, it argues, value is a personal assessment of worth, but those assessments draw deeply on normative stan...
Article
This chapter introduces the notion of value as a normative concept, as the price that something ought to exchange at. This does not mean that there is only one price that is its value for everyone, as objectivist theories of value assume: each of us forms our own opinion of the value of a thing. However, there are social forces that tend to produce...
Article
The concept of value is deeply embedded in debates about the economy, yet it is also deeply problematic. There are many different ways of understanding value, including many that are not directly concerned with economic questions, and we must begin by establishing some clarity over which versions we are engaging with. This chapter will argue, howev...
Article
One theme of this special issue is an incitement to reconsider the relationship between pragmatism and critical realism. While their advocates sometimes come into conflict, there are also clearly borrowings and overlaps between the traditions, and we therefore invited scholars with feet in either or indeed both camps to discuss their relationship....
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the relationship between pragmatism and critical realism, first as alternative philosophies for the social sciences in general, and second, as an illustration, in the social study of monetary valuation. The paper argues that both traditions are internally diverse. Hence, the relations between the two are complex, with both subst...
Article
In this wide-ranging interview, Dave Elder-Vass discusses his main contributions to critical realist theory over two decades. In the first half, he explains his early work on emergence, agency, structure, the concept of culture and norm circles, as well as his work on a broad array of social theorists and positions. Sometimes this has involved diff...
Article
Full-text available
This is an edited transcript of a keynote paper given at IACR's 2021 Annual Conference. The paper outlines a critical realist approach to critique and illustrates its application to the contemporary economy. It argues that responsible, constructive critique depends on ethics, on causal explanation, and on the development of utopian visions. Utopias...
Article
Full-text available
Narratives and conventions have received considerable attention in recent discussions of the valuation of financial assets. Narratives and conventions, however, can only be effective to the extent that they attract and persuade audiences, and this article makes the case for paying more attention to those audiences. In particular, the article argues...
Article
Apesar de suas diferenças, tanto a economia tradicional quanto a economia política Marxista veem a economia contemporânea como um sistema de mercado completamente capitalista. Isso se traduz tanto na desconsideração de grandes áreas da economia, quanto no ocultamento da presença generalizada de outras formas econômicas. Esta situação se tornou mais...
Article
This article conducts a dialogue and creates a new synthesis between two of the most influential ontological discourses in the field of sociology: assemblage theory and critical realism. The former proposes a focus on difference, fluidity, and process, the latter a focus on stability and structure. Drawing on and assessing the work of Deleuze, DeLa...
Article
The relationship between value and price, a central focus of classical political economy, has fallen into the shadows of neglect in contemporary economics. This paper builds on a critical realist framework and findings from the economics of conventions and the sociology of valuation to develop a theory of value that returns to the relation between...
Article
Economics has tended to neglect giving, and thus both its important contemporary economic role and its potential contribution to alternative, non-market systems. To remedy this, it will need to draw on the broad debates on the nature of the gift that have developed in and across the other social sciences. This paper addresses several of these by as...
Article
This is a lightly edited transcript of a plenary talk given at the Beyond Positivism conference, Montreal, August 8–10 2017. The talk followed others by Christopher Winship and Frédéric Vandenberghe, which are mentioned in the text. The paper argues that critical social science needs an ontology of values, and that a coherent ontology must recogniz...
Chapter
This chapter discusses teenage boys’ use of ‘banter’ on social networking sites such as Facebook by presenting data collected via semi-structured interviews and focus groups with boys and girls aged 11-16 from schools in England. Banter is a common form of social interaction within peer groups and is a means of othering and of performing and constr...
Article
Within thirty years of first appearing, the networked digital economy has spread its tentacles into the lives of half the population of the world, and transformed the balance of power in the commercial economy. Social theory has been slow to recognize the significance and scale of these developments, and this special issue is a contribution to redr...
Article
Social theorists increasingly recognise that material things often play vital roles in the causation of social events. However, there is substantial disagreement on how to theorise these roles. Several members of the Cambridge Social Ontology Group have made important contributions in the form of their work on the ontology of technological objects....
Article
The digital economy has provided opportunities for new forms of economic practice. At their purest, these forms deliver economic benefits as gifts and depend on cooperation without authority. Drawing loosely on Habermas, we may call this a lifeworld economy – an economy that is coordinated by communicative interaction – as opposed to the systems ec...
Chapter
Der Critical Realism, wie er seit den 1970er Jahren im angelsächsischen Raum entwickelt wurde, nimmt nicht nur viele Einsichten gegenwärtiger Realismusdebatten vorweg, sondern arbeitet diese zugleich für die Sozialwissenschaften aus. Jenseits des modernen Natur/Kultur-Dualismus schlägt dieser Ansatz eine nicht-deterministische Kausalitätskonzeption...
Article
Full-text available
There has been much debate on whether and how groups of human agents can constitute social structures with causal significance. Both sides in this debate, however, implicitly privilege human individuals over non-human material objects and tend to ignore the possibility that such objects might also play a significant role in social structures. This...
Book
Our economy is neither overwhelmingly capitalist, as Marxist political economists argue, nor overwhelmingly a market economy, as mainstream economists assume. Both approaches ignore vast swathes of the economy, including the gift, collaborative and hybrid forms that coexist with more conventional capitalism in the new digital economy. Drawing on ec...
Article
Full-text available
Bridging two traditions of social ontology, this paper examines the possibility that the concept of collective intentionality can help to explain the mechanisms underpinning the causal powers of some social entities. In particular, I argue that a minimal form of collective intentionality is part of the mechanism underpinning the causal power of nor...
Article
The significance of giving as a contemporary socio-economic practice has been obscured both by mainstream economics and by the influence of the anthropological tradition. Andrew Sayer's concept of moral economy offers a more fruitful framework for an economic sociology of contemporary giving, and one that appears to be largely consistent with socia...
Article
How should critical realists do social theory? This paper considers several issues raised by this question, in response to Jamie Morgan’s recent article in this journal, and comments on his discussion of norm circles.
Article
Social theories of giving have often been shaped by anthropological accounts that present it as a form of pre-market reciprocal exchange, yet this exchangist discourse obscures important contemporary giving practices. This article discusses two types of giving that confound the exchangist model: (1) sharing practices within the family; and (2) free...
Article
Full-text available
Tuukka Kaidesoja’s new book is a welcome addition to the literature on critical realism. He shows good judgement in defending Roy Bhaskar’s argument for causal powers while criticising its framing as a transcendental argument. In criticising Bhaskar’s concept of a real-but-not-actual ontological domain, however, he discards an essential element of...
Article
One of the strikingly iconoclastic features of actor-network theory is its juxtaposition of the claim to be a realist perspective with denials that supposedly natural phenomena existed before scientists made them up. This paper explains and criticizes such arguments in the work of Bruno Latour. By combining referent and reference in the concept of...
Conference Paper
There is increasing sociological interest in contemporary giving practices; the literature, however, continues to be strongly influenced by the Maussian tradition of economic anthropology, with its stress on reciprocity and conceptions of the gift as a form of deferred exchange. Implicitly, and sometimes even explicitly, this tradition defines givi...
Conference Paper
Mode of production is a central concept in political economy, and one that has often seemed relatively uncontroversial. The prevailing usages, however, tend to frame modes of production as thoroughly dominant in their epochs, thus tending to marginalise other forms of production as socially and economically insignificant. Yet even today, in capital...
Article
Giving plays an important role in the contemporary economy, but this has been obscured by the perspectives of both mainstream economics and Marxist political economy. This paper draws on the work of j. K. Gibson-Graham to argue that this stunts our imagination about alternative futures, and on the work of Erik Olin Wright to suggest that gift-orien...
Chapter
This paper offers an emergentist justification for the claim that social structure is causally significant when it takes the form of social entities with relationally emergent causal powers. Such powers are generated by processes of interaction between the characteristic set of parts, given the characteristic relations between them, that occur in e...
Article
This short reply seeks to clarify the concept of linguistic norm circles and to correct some misunderstandings of it implicit in Sealey & Carter's response. It also reinforces some doubts over their version of the linguistic system. Norm circles, it argues, provide an important part of the explanation for linguistic practices, but always in conjunc...
Article
In response to Hansson Wahlberg, this paper argues, first, that he misunderstands the redescription principle developed in my book The Causal Power of Social Structures, and second, that his criticisms rest on an ontological individualism that is taken for granted but in fact lacks an adequate ontological justification of its own.
Article
There are many differing ways to be a realist about language. This paper seeks to classify some of these and to examine the implications of each for the study of language. The principle of classification it adopts is that we may distinguish between realisms on the basis of what exactly it is that they take to be real. Examining in turn realisms tha...
Article
Full-text available
El constructivismo social ha sido visto muchas veces como incompatible con abordajes realistas del mundo social. Este artículo defiende que el realismo crítico es totalmente compatible con versiones moderadas del constructivismo social y que de hecho le otorga mayor soporte ontológico que los abordajes anti-realistas, frecuentemente asociadas a ver...
Book
'Social construction' is a central metaphor in contemporary social science, yet it is used and understood in widely divergent and indeed conflicting ways by different thinkers. Most commonly, it is seen as radically opposed to realist social theory. Dave Elder-Vass argues that social scientists should be both realists and social constructionists, a...
Article
Top-down causation has been implicit in many sociological accounts of social structure and its influence on social events, but the social sciences have struggled to provide a coherent account of top-down causation itself. This paper summarizes a critical realist view of causation and emergence, shows how it supports a plausible account of top-down...
Article
This article takes the form of a debate between the two authors on the social ontology of propositional culture. Archer applies the morphogenetic approach, analysing culture as a cycle of interaction between the Cultural System and Socio-Cultural Interaction. In this model, the Cultural System is comprised of the objective content of intelligibilia...
Article
The problem of structure and agency has been the subject of intense debate in the social sciences for over a hundred years. This book offers a new solution. Using a critical realist version of the theory of emergence, Dave Elder-Vass argues that instead of ascribing causal significance to an abstract notion of social structure or a monolithic conce...
Article
This paper outlines a realist approach to the social ontology of discourse. It seeks to synthesise some elements of the approach to discourse found in the early work of Michel Foucault with a critical realist understanding of the causal power of social structures. It will argue that discursive structures can be causally significant when they are no...
Article
The grounds for critique offered by Roy Bhaskar have developed over the course of his work, but two claims have remained central: ethical naturalism and moral realism. I argue that neither of these is compatible with a scientific realist understanding of values: a scientific realist approach commits one to treating values as socially produced and h...
Article
This paper argues that culture necessarily depends upon both subjective and objective moments. Earlier theorists have seen the objective moment in terms of, for example, collective representations (Durkheim), objective knowledge (Popper and Archer), or epistemological communities (Nelson). This paper argues, however, that the objective moment of cu...
Article
In response to Jens Greve's reductionist critique, this reply argues that this kind of reductionism, although it is widespread in the philosophical literature, is in fact ontologically incoherent. Greve also questions the possibility of supporting the emergentist argument empirically. From a stricty empiricist standpoint, I will suggest, distinctio...
Article
Superficially, Actor Network Theory (ANT) and critical realism (CR) are radically opposed research traditions. Written from a realist perspective, this paper asks whether there might be a basis for finding common ground between these two traditions. It looks in turn at the questions of realism, structure, and agency, analysing the differences betwe...
Article
This paper begins to develop an emergentist and realist account of normative social institutions. The argument is developed as a response to Lopez and Scott's historical portrait of the debate on social structure as a dialogue between two different concepts of structure: institutional structure and relational structure, integrated more recently thr...
Article
Social systems theory has been dominated in recent years by the work of Niklas Luhmann, but there is another strand of systems thinking, which is receiving increasing attention in sociology: emergentism. For emergentism, the core problems of systems thinking are concerned with causation and reductionism; for Luhmann, they are questions of meaning a...
Article
This paper replies to Porpora, King, and Varela's responses to my earlier paper “For Emergence”, focussing on the relationship between the concepts of social structure and social relations. It recognises the importance of identifying the mechanisms responsible whenever we make claims for the emergence of causal powers, and discusses the mechanism u...
Article
Margaret Archer and Pierre Bourdieu have advanced what seem at first sight to be incompatible theories of human agency. While Archer places heavy stress on conscious reflexive deliberation and the consequent choices of identity and projects that individuals make, Bourdieu's concept of habitus places equally heavy stress on the role of social condit...
Article
How should critical realism affect the practice of social science? This paper responds to this and related questions by suggesting some methodological implications of the realist theory of emergence. Given that critical realism understands causation as the interaction of emergent causal powers, and that the theory of emergence describes the type of...
Article
The question of social structure and its relationship to human agency remains one of the central problems of social theory. One of the most promising attempts to provide a solution has been Margaret Archer's morphogenetic approach, which invokes emergence to justify treating social structure as causally effective. Archer's argument, however, has be...
Article
The concept of emergence is routinely invoked in critical realist theory, but rarely examined. Yet emergence is fundamental to the realist account of cause. This paper aims to improve critical realism's understanding of emergence by discussing, first, what emergence is and how it works; second, the need for a compositional account of emergence; and...
Article
This paper discusses two classic problems in the philosophy of the social sciences. First, the question of social structure: can we justify treating social structures as having real causal powers of their own, and if so how? And, second, the question of naturalism: to what extent do, or should, or can, the social sciences resemble the natural scien...

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