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The Place of Fantasy in a Critical Political Economy: The Case of Market Boundaries

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Jason Glynos
INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................... 2374
A. “Go Forth and Shop”: The Moment of Consumption ....................... 2377
B. Consumption’s Desire as a Psychoanalytic Entry Point ................... 2378
C. “It’s the Production (and Appropriation) Stupid!” ........................... 2379
II. MARKETS AND BOUNDARIES: FROM MEANS TO MEANING ........................... 2383
A. Markets as Means to Ends ................................................................. 2384
B. Markets as Spheres of Monetary Exchange ....................................... 2387
C. Markets as Spheres of Commodity Meanings: “Preferences are
Foundational” .................................................................................... 2389
D. Markets as Part of Complex and Interdependent Systems of
Exchange and Nonexchange .............................................................. 2395
IDEOLOGY ...................................................................................................... 2398
A. Market Matter: Logics of Calculability ............................................. 2399
1. Calculability Logics and Logics of Care and Attunement ...... 2401
2. From Market Matter to Psychoanalytic Matter ....................... 2403
B. Psychoanalytic Matter: The Role of Enjoyment and Fantasy in a
Critical Political Economy ................................................................ 2403
1. Enjoyment, Affect, and Fantasy .............................................. 2404
Jason Glynos teaches political theory at the Department of Government, University of
Essex. He has published in the areas of poststructuralist political theory and Lacanian psychoa-
nalysis, focusing on theories of ideology, democracy, and freedom, and the philosophy and meth-
odology of social science. He is co-author of Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Politi-
cal Theory (Routledge, 2007), and co-editor of Politics and the Unconscious (Special Issue of
Subjectivity, 2010). His current research explores the contributions of discourse analysis and
psychoanalysis to the development of a critical political economy, looking in particular at alterna-
tive community economies, workplace fantasies, and the politics and ideology of the recent
financial crisis in the UK. For comments on earlier drafts of this Paper I thank David Howarth,
Sheldon Leader, Aletta Norval, Yannis Stavrakakis, and Albert Weale.
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2. A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Market Boundaries ............. 2407
CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................... 2410
In a context defined by the deficit-reduction imperative, govern-
ments the world over appear keener than ever to pluralize the forms and
agents of public service delivery. In practice, however, pluralization,
often means “marketization.Moreover, in debates prompted by efforts
to marketize and privatize public services and utilities the state and
market tend to be treated as external to each other, even opposed to each
other in a kind of zero-sum tug-of-war, more state meaning less market,
and vice versa.
Of course many have questioned the dichotomic picture of the rela-
tion between state and market, pointing to the state’s role in instituting
the necessary legal and regulatory structures for markets to function in
the first place. They also note how market logics are introduced by
states themselves as a means of governance and discipline, particularly
in the production and delivery of public services. This then raises a
more general question about market boundaries and the role market
logics can or should play in shaping and governing our relationships
with each other. Key questions regarding the future of liberal democrat-
ic polities, therefore, concern the character of public service provision:
how to justify the extension of the market into, or its withdrawal from,
one or another domain of social life; and how we can best account for
the way market logics are promoted, implemented, and contested?
This Paper revisits this general debate over market boundariesin
order to explore what role psychoanalysis can play in ascertaining when
and how to extend or restrict the scope of the market in relation to par-
ticular domains of social life. In particular, I argue that a turn to fantasy
offers us a useful way to explore the scope and limits of a psychoanalyt-
ic contribution to this debate. How, for example, can the appeal to fan-
tasy help us critically assess the provision and delivery of goods and
services across market, state, and other coordinating agencies? If it is
true, as some scholars claim, that potent fantasies of independence un-
derpin marketized forms of service provision and delivery, and if equal-
ly powerful fantasies of dependence underpin statist forms of delivery,
what can psychoanalysis tell us about their relative merits and demerits?
More interestingly perhaps, what light can psychoanalysis throw on
other possible modes of provision and delivery, more interdependent
modes, for example?
A key objective of this Paper is to bring long-running and ongoing
debates about market boundaries into closer contact with a psychoana-
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lytically inflected political theory. In order to discharge this objective, I
divide my Paper into three parts. Part I offers a general perspective on
the question of what role psychoanalytic theory, and the categories of
subjectivity and fantasy in particular, can play in developing a critical
viewpoint on key aspects of political economy. I argue that the rele-
vance of psychoanalysis to a critical political economy can be staged
at any number of sites on the economic circuit and at any number of
phases of associated policy processes. Part II provides an overview of
key perspectives on the character and boundaries of markets, showing
how the category of meaning in hermeneutically informed approaches
has come to play a crucial role in advancing beyond dominant instru-
mental conceptualizations of the market. Finally, Part III probes the
limits of meaning and discourse when characterizing or evaluating mar-
ket practices. Approaches linked to the so-called turn to matter point
to these limits and associated concerns, and so I explore the psychoana-
lytic contribution to this debate through this prism: what is the matter
of markets and how does the matter of psychoanalysis relate to it?
Logics of calculability and fantasy are invoked to argue that psychoa-
nalysis has less to tell us about the merits or demerits of market logics
as such than about the ideological conditions for their extension into, or
withdrawal from, one or another domain.
In considering the place of fantasy in a critical political economy,
it is perhaps worth clarifying what I mean by this term. In a first sweep,
I take critical political economy to be a species of critical political theo-
ry, a domain of thought that takes for granted the primacy of the politi-
cal moment in critically explaining the reproduction and transformation
of social practices, economic practices inclusive. A critical political
theory tends to draw on a wide range of philosophical resources to ori-
ent problem-driven empirical research and to offer a rationale for both
normative and ideological critique.1
Classical political economy was of course always about drawing
out the connections between economic concepts on the one hand, and
features of social, political, and economic practice on the other hand.
There was a clear recognition of the way economic life and other do-
mains of life were in a relation of co-constitution.2 Classical political
1 Jason Glynos, Fantasy and Identity in Critical Political Theory, 32 FILOZOFSKI VESTNIK
2, 6588 (2011).
2 There is, of course, a sizeable literature that looks at markets’ relation to society more
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2376 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
economy can thus be distinguished from a number of other conceptions
of political economy, including the discipline of economics itself, at
least insofar as this has been understood to be about principles of eco-
nomic practice that operate and can be grasped in ways that are autono-
mous from wider social, political, and historical contexts. A classical
political economic sensibility also shares little with the questionable
idea that political issues must be studied using the methods and assump-
tions of the discipline of economics.
A critical political economy affirms classical political economy’s
more capacious understanding of the relationship between economy and
other spheres of life. But it emphasizes the critical dimension of associ-
ated theoretical efforts, doing so in a number of ways.3 For example, a
critical political economy might seek to revise key economic concepts
in order to satisfy alternative normative visionsconcepts such as
commodity, labour, class, or surplus. A critical political economy might
question the ontological privilege accorded to class, for example, show-
ing how it is overdetermined by other features, such as sex, race, cul-
ture, etc. Critical political economy, then, defines a domain of thought
the aim of which is to pluralize our understandings of economic pro-
cesses by critically engaging with dominant renditions of the economy.
This yields a fairly expansive definition of the field of critical political
economy, which would include Marxist, post-Marxist, critical realist,
feminist, environmentalist, and poststructuralist approaches within its
NOMICS (2003); Bob Jessop, Cultural Political Economy and Critical Policy Studies, 3 CRITICAL
POLY STUD. 336 (2009); Bob Jessop & Stijn Oosterlynck, Cultural Political Economy: On
Making the Cultural Turn Without Falling into Soft Economic Sociology, 39 GEOFORUM 1155
(2008); Colin C. Williams, The Market Illusion: Re-Reading Work in Advanced Economies, 25
INTL J. SOC. & SOC. POLY 106 (2005).
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From a poststructuralist point of view, we can resolve the critical
dimension embedded in the notion of a critical political economy along
two axes: a normative axis and an ideological axis. As in critical politi-
cal theory, so too in a critical political economy, normative critique
would take aim at the norms of a practice or regime (the norms of a
capitalist, neoliberal, or socialist regime for example), while ideological
critique would take aim at the way we as subjects relate to those norms
(or to the institution or contestation of those norms). In this view, one
could be a committed socialist, affirm its norms, and yet still launch a
devastating critique of the way subjects tend to engage with those norms
or the way those norms are promoted, instituted, and defended. Follow-
ing Ernesto Laclau, ideological critique here takes aim at the will to
closureor the various totalizing tendencies,treating these as relative-
ly autonomous from the normative framework at stake.5
This poststructuralist understanding of a critical political theory
forms the immediate backdrop of my objective to contribute to the de-
velopment of a critical political economy by drawing on key concepts of
psychoanalysis, particularly the concept of fantasy. I begin this process
by appealing to one of the most obvious ways we can think about the
relation between psychoanalytic theory and political economy: through
the moment of consumption.
A. “Go Forth and Shop”: The Moment of Consumption
We live in an era where leaders of advanced liberal democracies
canwithout ironycall on its citizens to go forth and shopas a way
of discharging their patriotic duty, particularly and most urgently when
confronted with an economic crisis. An economic crisis can be under-
stood to be a crisis of consumption when it threatens people’s way of
lifea way of life understood here as inextricably tied to our capacity
to consume: having the spending power to consume, but also having the
commodities available to consume. Consumption thus becomes a kind
of horizon of intelligibility wherein a nation’s economic growth is tied
to its citizens’ consumption habits, and people’s consumption habits
both shape, and are shaped by, the nature of their life as such, including
especially their working life and spending power, for example, their
wages and access to credit.
Many commentators agree that Anglo-American market capitalism
has generated stupendous rises in standards of living for many workers,
but many also note that this rise has been accompanied by vast inequali-
5 Ernesto Laclau, The Impossibility of Society, 15 CANADIAN J. POL. & SOC. THEORY. 24
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2378 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
ties of wealth and income, and much exploitation both within and be-
yond national boundaries. It has been noted how Adam Smith was deep-
ly sensitive to this mixed bag of good and bad, and so his hopes for a
secure capitalism rested on people’s rising absolute level of consump-
tion as a way of compensating for various forms of labour exploitation
and rising inequalities of wealth.6
From within this horizon, then, an economic crisis consists of any
period of time in which workers would face extended decreases rather
than increases in their standards of consumption. Falling workers’ con-
sumption . . . [would threaten] their acceptance of capitalist exploitation
by depriving them of the compensation for it.”7 For some, both neoclas-
sical and Keynesian responses to the crisis, as well as many labour un-
ion responses to the crisis, while different in the relative importance
they attribute to individual, regulatory, or collective factors in their di-
agnoses and demands, can nevertheless be understood to be differences
falling within this horizon.8 In other words, these perspectives can be
seen to offer different responses to a shared understanding of the crisis
as a crisis of consumption: how can we best restore some sense of con-
sumption as usual,” in order to put us back again on the virtuous cycle
of economic growth?9 And vice versa.
B. Consumption’s Desire as a Psychoanalytic Entry Point
Given the preeminent importance attributed to consumption in ac-
ademic and policy-making circles, as well as quotidian practices, it is
perhaps not so surprising that the moment of consumption serves as a
popular entry pointfor psychoanalytic interventions into, and critical
engagements with, questions of political economy. A key move in psy-
choanalytic interventions has been its single-minded determination to
make subjectivity central to its analysis, specifically the notion of split
subjectivity and its satellite concepts of desire, enjoyment, and fanta-
The significance of this move is sometimes highlighted by con-
trasting the psychoanalytic conception of desire with the standard mar-
6 This might be construed as a form of legitimation corresponding to a particular regime of
7 STEPHEN A. RESNICK & RICHARD D. WOLFF, Exploitation, Consumption, and the Unique-
ness of US Capitalism, in NEW DEPARTURES IN MARXIAN THEORY 341 (2006).
8 Id.
9 For example, should we let the chips fall where they may, allowing the markets to self-
correct and reboot economic growth? Or should we intervene to restore faith in the markets by
paying heed to various animal spirits”?
10 See, e.g., Jason Glynos, There Is No Other of the Other: Symptoms of a Decline in Symbol-
ic Faith, 24 PARAGRAPH 78 (2001).
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ket conceptions of desire, which often entail a somewhat truncated un-
derstanding in terms of individual preferences whose rank order is re-
vealed through price signals. Taking preferences as their starting point,
however numerous and varied these may be, the business of markets is
typically understood to be about facilitating and maximizing their satis-
faction. But since standard economic approaches do not ask after the
justification of preferences, they leave uninterrogated the logic of their
formation, reproduction, and transformation. Many psychoanalytically
inspired scholars have, on the contrary, opened up these preference-
formation processes to psychoanalytic investigation and interrogation.
For example, they point out how consumption practices rely on desire
as inherently unsatisfied and unsatisfiable. This is a key insight not lost
on the advertising industries of courseindustries the business of which
is to regularly and widely disseminate a whole array of fantasmatic nar-
ratives construed explicitly as product-placement devices.
According to psychoanalytic scholars, Lacanian scholars in partic-
ular, there is a constitutive gap separating subject as lack(the subject
as unsatisfied) from subject as full (the subject as satisfied) and this
gap accounts for the apparently addictive quality and power that con-
sumer products can exert over citizen-consumers. Interestingly, and
some might say somewhat alarmingly, they suggest that a key feature of
our western human ontology conceived as a function of desire, appears
to resonate deeply with the logic of consumption itself. Insofar as mar-
ket capitalism is understood to privilege the moment of consumption,
the critique of market capitalism often becomes coterminous with a
critique of those logics of fantasmatic desire and enjoyment that buoy
up everyday consumption practices.
C. It’s the Production (and Appropriation) Stupid!
However insightful and productive some of these incursions into
the domain of consumption have been, one cannot help but question
whether this has come also at the expense of detailed analysis and criti-
cal engagement of moments in the economic circuit other than the mo-
ment of consumptionfor example, the moment of production.11 Slavoj
Žižek, for example, has been criticized for precisely this reason, espe-
cially evident in many remarks that betray a fascination with, and
grudging respect for, the power of capital to constantly reinvent and
11 In regulation-theoretic terms, one might say that this is equivalent to overemphasizing the
deficiencies and malleability of the mode of regulation or form of justification, while leaving
uninterrogated the presupposed regime of accumulation.
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2380 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
reproduce itself.12 In this view, the monolithic drive of capital accumu-
lation and reproduction is opposed to the malleable and potentially
treatable desire for commodities. Detailed analytical treatment of con-
sumption’s desires and fantasies stand in stark contrast to fairly abrupt
calls to make a political or ethical stand against the relentless drive of
production and reproduction, for example by calling for negative eco-
nomic growth.
However, in shifting one’s perspective from capitalism conceived
as a monolithic and homogeneous force or drive to one conceived as an
unstable and complex hegemonic formation one can readily draw on the
work of what could be called the Amherst School of Marxian political
economy, based, but not by any means restricted to, the economics de-
partment of the University of Massachusetts, and linked to the journal
Rethinking Marxism.13 Their approach is informed by a detailed reread-
ing of key texts by Marx focused around the notion of class process.”14
Class can be and has often been conceived in terms of identity or posi-
tion. However, putting the accent on process tends to shift the focus
from questions of being to questions of becoming. Class processes are
here understood not in terms of income, wealth, or property, but rather
12 See, e.g., Jason Glynos, Capitalism and the Act: From Content to Form and Back Again, in
lar & Ian Parker eds., forthcoming 2013); Ceren Özselçuk & Yahya M. Madra, Economy, Sur-
plus, Politics: Some Questions on Slavoj Žižek’s Political Economy Critique of Capitalism, in
Heiko Feldner eds., 2007).
THEORY: ESSAYS IN THE ALTHUSSERIAN TRADITION (Antonio Callari et al. eds, 1996);
2001); RESNICK & WOLFF, supra note 4; RUCCIO & AMARIGLIO, supra note 4; Ceren Özselçuk
& Yahya M. Madra, Enjoyment as an Economic Factor: Reading Marx with Lacan, 3 SUBJEC-
TIVITY 323 (2010) [hereinafter Özselçuk & Madra, Enjoyment as an Economic Factor]; Özselçuk
& Madra, supra note 12; Ceren Özselçuk, Mourning, Melancholy, and the Politics of Class
Transformation, 18 RETHINKING MARXISM 225 (2006); Ceren Özselçuk & Yahya M. Madra,
Psychoanalysis and Marxism: From Capitalist-All to Communist Non-All, 10 PSYCHOANALYSIS,
plexity in Economic Theory: The Challenge of Overdetermination, in NEW DEPARTURES IN
munism: Between Class and Classless, in NEW DEPARTURES IN MARXIAN THEORY, supra note 7,
at 137; Yahya M. Madra, Questions of Communism: Ethics, Ontology, Subjectivity, 18 RETHINK-
ING MARXISM 205 (2006).
14 The Amherst School of Marxian political economy is by no means incompatible with the
THEORY (2007), where references to the writings of people like Ernesto Laclau and Chantal
Mouffe are not uncommon, nor with many aspects of the Lancaster School of Cultural Political
Economy, see Jessop, supra note 4, at 33656; Jessop & Oosterlynck, supra note 4.
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in terms of surplus labour.15 Class processes are those processes by
which surplus labour is produced, appropriated, distributed, exchanged,
and consumed.16
From a critical point of view, one important benefit conferred by
highlighting a range of moments on the economic circuit is that it there-
by also pluralizes the sites of psychoanalytic, not merely political and
normative, entry points. Viewing the economy as a circuit made up of
multiple and overdetermined momentsmoments of production, ap-
propriation, distribution, exchange, and consumptionoffers a differ-
ent, even if messier, picture than one based on fairly rigidly defined
mechanisms or drives.17 In addition to thinking of the moment of con-
sumption as a suitable psychoanalytic entry point, then, we can also
consider other moments as suitable entry points for more detailed and
critical analysis.
Consider the moment of production. One way of understanding the
focus of recent studies of the operation of fantasies in the context of the
workplace is to see them as making a psychoanalytic intervention or
entry at the moment of production. One study, for example, finds a
15 Özselçuk and Madra provide a useful commentary on the Lacanian equivalence between
surplus jouissance and surplus value when they claim that treating production as a function of
surplus value (when, for example, it is linked by Lacan and Lacanians to surplus jouissance) is
already to treat the production process in capitalist terms. But if one were to “reclaim ‘the organi-
zation of surplus labor,’ rather than “the accumulation of capital,” as the entry point of Marxian
discourse to rethink both the impossibility of, and difference in, class relations,” then we could
“retheorize surplus value as one mode of relating to surplus labour.” Özselçuk & Madra, supra
note 12, at 85.
If we were to distinguish surplus labour from surplus value and reconstruct the
proper homology as one between surplus labour and surplus jouissance, then an entire-
ly different picture emerges. In this alternative construction of the homology, not just
capitalism but all forms of production, appropriation, and distribution are disrupted by
the paradoxical topology of surplus jouissance.
Id. at 91. “By universalizing the psychoanalytical insight, in this manner, to all class formations,
id., we can pose the question of how we might relate to surplus labour in a way different from
surplus value, or more generally in a nonexceptional, nonappropriatively, and hence nonexploita-
tive way.
16 Consider the case of analyzing the capitalist economy. In this case, such a framework could
make visible at least three sorts of potentially and politically salient differences: (1) Differences
within capitalism (i.e., variations at the different moments in the circuit of capital), which can be
understood in terms of the different claims on the distributions of surplus value, as well as differ-
ent forms of production, exchange, and consumption, given our understanding of surplus labor as
surplus value, see Bob Jessop, The World Market, Variegated Capitalism and the Crisis of Euro-
pean Integration, in GLOBALISATION AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION 91 (Petros Nousios et al.
eds., 2012); Bob Jessop, Rethinking the Diversity and Variability of Capitalism: On Variegated
209 (Christel Lane & Geoffrey T. Wood eds., 2011); (2) differences from capitalism but still
operating within class processes (primitive communism, feudalism, slavery, etc); and (3) differ-
ences beyond class processes (certain nonclass understandings of communism).
17 As we will see in Part II, this pluralization is apparent in the work of economic sociologists
like Mark Harvey’s Instituted Economic Process analysis as much as it is in the work of Class
Process analysis.
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2382 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
good portion of fantasies structuring workplace practices to be leader-
ship fantasiesin other words, individuals’ fantasies about their organi-
zational superiors: the caring leader, the accessible leader, the omnipo-
tent leader, and so on.18 Another study charts a range of fantasmatic
contents in the context of workplace practices.19 For example, one
woman’s excessive work rate, welcomed and encouraged by her boss, is
accounted for by appealing to a fantasy in which her efforts would one
day be rewarded by the long-sought-after recognition of her father. The-
se are instances in which individual fantasies are operative, but instanc-
es of collective fantasies can also be cited.20
In these studies, fantasies are understood to distract attention away
from poor pay and conditions, insecurity and exploitation, as well as the
broader sociocultural and politico-economic conditions that make these
possible. Such studies are significant because they represent initial at-
tempts to document the content of workplace fantasies, trading on the
intuition that they have an important role to play in our understanding of
how social practicesin this case workplace practicesare organized,
sustained, or potentially transformed. In my view, it is possible to build
on these insights by linking them more explicitly and systematically to
the question of ideology, and by making the political and normative
significance of fantasy clearer.21
My intervention thus far has been pitched at a fairly high level of
abstraction. The guiding thread has been the general idea that psychoa-
nalysis and critical political economy can be brought together produc-
tively insofar as they both, in their own ways, provide a critique of “to-
talityor of totalizing tendencies.While psychoanalysis detotalizes
the subject conceived as a self-transparent and rational preference-
18 Yiannis Gabriel, Meeting God: When Organizational Members Come Face to Face with
the Supreme Leader, 50 HUM. REL. 315, 31542 (1997).
19 Valerie Walkerdine, Freedom, Psychology and the Neoliberal Worker, 29 SOUNDINGS 47,
4761 (2005).
20 Cf. Alessia Contu & Hugh Willmott, Studying Practice, 27 ORG. STUD. 1769 (2006); Ken
Byrne & Stephen Healy, Cooperative Subjects: Toward a Post-Fantasmatic Enjoyment of the
Economy, 18 RETHINKING MARXISM 241 (2006); Lynne Layton, Irrational Exuberance: Neolib-
eral Subjectivity and the Perversion of Truth, 3 SUBJECTIVITY 303 (2010); Hugh Willmott, Iden-
tities in Organizations: From Interpretive to Critical Analysis (Univ. of Cardiff Bus. Sch., 2007).
21 Jason Glynos, Ideological Fantasy at Work, 13 J. POL. IDEOLOGIES 275, 275 (2008); see
also Wei-yuan Chang & Jason Glynos, Ideology and Politics in the Popular Press: The Case of
106 (Lincoln Dahlberg & Sean Phelan eds., 2011); Jason Glynos, On the Ideological and Politi-
cal Significance of Fantasy in the Organization of Work, 16 PSYCHOANALYSIS, CULTURE &
SOCY 373 (2011); Glynos, supra note 1, at 4568;. There is now a very lively and burgeoning
literature in the domain of what is called critical management studiesthat explores similar
issues regarding the link between Lacanian theory and the production process. A number of
journal special issues have already appeared, and the first edited book on this topicentitled
Lacan and Organizationwas published in 2010. See LACAN AND ORGANIZATION (Carl
Cederström & Casper Hoedemaeker eds., 2010), available at
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ordering agent, a critical political economy detotalizes the economy,
treating it instead as a series of overdetermined moments that are per-
formedin different contexts under particular conditions. This suggests
that fantasyinsofar as this speaks to the idea of split subjectivitycan
be used as a critical “entry point for any and all moments in such an
economic circuit: moments of production, appropriation, distribution,
exchange, and consumption.
One can add one final point of substantive and methodological rel-
evance about the placeof fantasy in a critical political economy.
Apart from thinking about the place of fantasy in terms of the possible
entry points into, or sites of, an economic circuit, one can also think of
the place of fantasy in relation to the policy sphere. Here fantasy is un-
derstood to operate at different phases of the policy process, for exam-
ple, formulation, public justification, as well as implementation.
But how should one think of the role of fantasy with respect to
markets, and market boundaries in particular? In moving from general
considerations of critical political economy to more focused considera-
tions linked to market boundaries, some preliminary groundwork is in
order. More specifically, to evaluate the contribution of psychoanalytic
theory to our understanding of market boundaries, it is useful to contex-
tualize this contribution in relation to the debates on this topic and to
outline the analytical and critical grids available to us in helping us bet-
ter negotiate the different positions in the debates. This will be the task
of Part II, after which, in Part III, I show how psychoanalytic theory
might offer a fresh perspective on this debate, with special reference to
the categories of enjoyment and fantasy.
Tackling the question of market boundaries presupposes a view
about the character of markets themselves. In this Part, I review a small
subset of these views, choosing to probe perspectives that touch on
themes cutting across the domain of critical political economy. In par-
ticular, we may see markets as a means, serving any number of substan-
tive aims, a view shared by advocates of market capitalism, market so-
cialism, and some third way variants; we may home in on monetary
exchange as a key feature of markets, an important aspect of Michael
Walzer’s theory of justice as domination, for example; we might place
greater emphasis, instead, on commodity meanings in trying to grasp
what is most at stake in market practices, treating meaning as more im-
portant than the presence or absence of a literal exchange of money.
Though not absent in Walzer, this aspect is emphasized by Russell Keat
and several cultural economists who draw on the work of Alasdair Mac-
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2384 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
Intyre. Or we might choose to foreground their interdependence with
nonmarket forms of exchange. Mark Harvey and others associated with
the Instituted Economic Process” (IEP) approach offer one very com-
pelling and clear account of this perspective. Or, finally, we might un-
derstand markets as a function of material calculative devices, a feature
emphasized by Michel Callon and others associated with the Actor
Network Theory and Science and Technology Studies scholars. I en-
gage with each of these perspectives in what follows.
A. Markets as Means to Ends
We will find out what works, and we will support the successes and
stop the failures. We will back anyonefrom a multinational com-
pany to a community associationif they can deliver the goods.
Tony Blair, Speech at the Aylesbury Estate,
Southwark, 2 June 199722
The first set of justifications about the appropriateness of relying
on market logics in a particular domain of life can be summarised by the
question Do markets work?In contemporary political discourse about
public service reform, this is often understood to be a question about
whether market mechanisms are successful in meeting specific exoge-
nously defined targets: Will they reduce patient queues or waiting times
in the context of health care provision? Has the quality of goods and
service provision improved? Is such provision efficient? Would it in-
crease user choice and satisfaction? Here, markets are treated as a neu-
tral means of coordinating supply and demand in a way that achieves a
set of substantive aims.
The terms of public debate over the role of the market and the
scope of its application thus tend to be dominated by the question of
whether it can efficiently deliver a particular good: food, healthcare,
energy, higher education, transport services, etc. The market is treated
as an instrument to be compared to and contrasted with other devices,
including centralized forms of coordination, whether state-based or not,
as well as other decentralized forms of coordination beyond the market,
based on principles of kinship, reciprocity, or other norms of communi-
ty life. In this context, markets are understood to be largely decentral-
ized systems that rely on price signals to coordinate the production of
goods and services, as well as the distribution and exchange of associat-
ed property rights.
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At this level it is immaterial how price signals are set. These may
be set endogenously in the way neoclassical economists favour or exog-
enously by the state or other regulative bodies, the central point being
that price signals comprise a crucial boundary condition shaping the
choices of economic actors. But whether prices are calibrated indirectly
(e.g., by the relative pressures within and between supply and demand
crowds) or directly (e.g., through various state-imposed minimum or
maximum wage restrictions), prices are ideally set at a level that en-
courages competitive behaviour. A market transaction, then, involves
the exchange of a sum of money (whose value tracks and embodies the
current price) for a good or service offered by a provider under condi-
tions that promote competition. This way of thinking tends to prompt a
search for a list of conditions under which it would be possible and de-
sirable to declare a market suitable for implementation. The obverse
case, of course, would be the production of a list of potential problems
with state provision (moral hazard problems) or voluntary provision
(assurance or free-rider problems), which point to the market’s suitabil-
ity by default.
Viewing the market as a means, rather than as an end, suggests that
markets are not intrinsically objectionable, their potential virtue or ap-
propriateness being a function of the end to which they serve as a
means, as well as their contextual conditions of implementation.23 In
fact, many contemporary theorists of a socialist persuasion acknowledge
the unparalleled capacity of markets to cope with the complex problem
of matching the production and distribution of goods and services with a
heterogeneous and constantly changing demand for goods. For this rea-
son they have sought to disarticulate markets from capitalism in order to
press the market in the service of socialist ideals, generating a not insig-
nificant literature on market socialism, which reached a high point in
the 1980s and 1990s.24 In fact it is worth pausing here briefly to consid-
23 David Miller, Why Markets?, in MARKET SOCIALISM 25 (Julian Le Grand & Saul Estrin
eds., 1989).
24 Market socialism has its recent intellectual roots in the calculation debates, specifically
Oskar Lange’s competitive solution challenge to Ludwig von Mises’s claim that economic
calculation was impossible in an economy without private ownership and a full set of markets.”
David Belkin, Why Market Socialism? From the Critique of Political Economy to Positive Politi-
cal Economy, in WHY MARKET SOCIALISM?: VOICES FROM DISSENT 3, at 5 (Frank Roosevelt &
David Belkin eds., 1994). The intellectual roots of market socialism actually stretch further back
to ideas of nineteenth-century thinkers, such as Robert Owen (Villages of Cooperation),
Charles Fourier (Phalansteries), Thomas Hodgskin (Labour Defended Against the Claims of
Capital), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Richard Ely, Albert Schaffle (The Quintessence of Socialism),
and John Stuart Mill (Principles of Political Economy). On this, see id.; Miller, supra note 23;
MARKET SOCIALISM (1989). On the calculation debate, see PETER BOETTKE, SOCIALISM AND
THE MARKET: COLLECTIVIST ECONOMIC PLANNING (2000). On market socialism generally, see,
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2386 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
er the perspective of market socialism in more detail because it tends to
foreground this understanding of markets as a means of achieving or
promoting exogenously defined ideals.
The strategy of contemporary market socialists is to disconnect so-
cialist ends from traditionally conceived socialist means (state owner-
ship of production, centralised planning of distribution) in order to re-
connect them to market means by pointing to the latter’s merits or by
pointing to the failures of central planning.25 The crucial insight here
involves contesting the assumption of an essential link between capital-
ism and markets. In fact, in the wake of considerable growth in coopera-
tivesin Britain, from under twenty in 1975 to around 1600 in
198926David Miller marshals empirical evidence to show that central
socialist values like democracy, freedom, equality, and community can
be promoted through an appropriately institutionalised market, while
maintaining, even enhancing, the virtues of efficiency and entrepreneur-
ship conventionally associated with the market.27 As to what counts as
an appropriately institutionalised market, market socialists typically
flesh this out as a function of cooperatives buoyed up by a plurality of
capital investment agencies. For cooperatives entail the collective own-
ership and democratic control over the means of production and distri-
bution of surplus labour, thereby promoting the ideal of freedomboth
in terms of work and, indirectly, in terms of consumption. And yet such
an appropriately institutionalized market need not, according to its
advocates, foreclose the operation of capitalist markets and firms, only
that the cooperative sector remains the dominant one in the economy,
setting employment standards and income norms for the other sec-
The central point remains, however, that from the perspective of
markets conceived as a means, the difference between market socialism
and market capitalism amounts largely to a difference in the objectives
they want markets to discharge. Whether market logics are appropriate
is a function of how successful they are, under specific contextual con-
MARKET SOCIALISM: THE CURRENT DEBATE (Pranab K. Bardhan & John E. Roemer eds., 1993);
SOCIALISM, supra note 23; MARKET SOCIALISM: WHOSE CHOICE? (Ian Forbes ed., 1987); DAVID
25 Saul Estrin & Julian Le Grand, Market Socialism, in MARKET SOCIALISM, supra note 23,
at 1.
26 Id. at 17. As of 2011, there are around 5500 cooperatives in the United Kingdom. See CO-
OPERATIVES UK, (last visited June 16, 2012).
27 David Miller, A Vision of Market Socialism: How It Might WorkAnd Its Problems, in
WHY MARKET SOCIALISM?, supra note 24, at 247.
28 Id. at 256.
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ditions, in helping to achieve particular purposes and promote specific
B. Markets as Spheres of Monetary Exchange
Advocates of market socialism accept in principle the potential
benefits of market logics but question the necessity of a capitalist
framework within which they are meant to operate. Instead of accepting
the hegemonic construal of markets as inherently capitalist, they seek to
make possible an alternative, socialist use of markets, which is both
feasible and desirable. Its feasibility is defended in technical economic
and legal terms that recognize the power of consumer choice to shape
production volume and priorities, as well as establish discipline and
extract efficiencies; and its desirability is couched in terms of its com-
patibility with, and potential to promote, the value of democratic free-
dom and equality, particularly in the context of the workplace.
However, even if one accepts the force of this intervention, are
there other reasons that may cause us to hesitate before extending mar-
ket logics into new areas of social life? If, for example, it were possible
to institutionalise a marketeven a market oriented toward socialist
objectives and idealsin the domain of higher education or health, are
there reasons why we might argue that monetary exchange or ability to
pay may not be a desirable criterion of distribution? In this Section, I
consider the work of Michael Walzer who responds to this question in
the affirmative, suggesting that his position can be justified by appeal to
the values of institutional integrity and pluralism.
Walzer’s views on the proper way to understand the nature and
scope of markets stem from more general considerations about how we
should understand justice.30 Unlike monistic approaches to justice of the
Rawlsian sort, Walzer understands justice in a radically plural way.
Instead of searching for an underlying principle of justice, which would
cut across all social domains (whether on the basis of need, desert,
equality, fairness, etc.), Walzer treats modern liberal-democratic socie-
ties as comprising a plurality of distinct spheres, defined by their goods
and the distributive principles shaped by the meaning of these goods.31
29 Issues of feasibility and implementation are compounded in the case of market socialism
due to the latter’s apparent reliance on path-dependency issues (i.e., market socialism appears
more likely to succeed in the wake of a market capitalist environment rather than a communist
central planning environment) and collective action issues. See id.
31 Central categories of good identified by Walzer (with their distributive criteria) include:
money and commodities (ability to pay); security, health, and welfare (need); political power
(votes); kinship and love (gift); offices of employment (skills); leisure/free time (desert, intrinsic
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2388 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
Walzer suggests that this sphere pluralism is the product of an art of
separationwhich characterizes the development of Western polities,
wherein the political power of the state underwent a series of limita-
tions, involving its separation from the personal and the religious.32
Justice in this view is understood in terms of keeping spheres dis-
tinct by blocking exchanges between them; in other words, by prevent-
ing one sphere’s goods from being exchanged for another’s, and conse-
quently preventing what Walzer calls the tyrannical exercise of power
by people who possess goods in one sphere over others who possess
goods in another sphere. Insofar as each sphere incorporates distinct
institutions, justice is internally connected to the values of pluralism and
institutional integrity. The specific question of the role and scope of the
market can thus be treated as an issue of institutional identity: the ability
to pay in the market sphere of commodities should not be allowed to
interfere with, or corrupt, the criteria of exchange and distribution of
other spheres. In short, we should not permit the use of money (the cur-
rency of the commodity sphere) to buy goods of other spheres.
It should be clear, therefore, how Walzer problematizes the earlier
set of arguments, which treated the market as a means to some further
end (the efficient production and distribution of plentiful goods; the
capitalist ideal of individual freedom and property ownership; or the
socialist ideal of worker’s democratic freedom and equality). He sug-
gests that the meaning of a good raises, and ought to raise, important
considerations, which go beyond mere feasibility and efficiency issues
and beyond the question of whether broader capitalist or socialist objec-
tives can be met.
Walzer’s approach entails keeping all spheres of justice separate
from each other, but he worries about the market’s powerful imperialist
tendencies. His solution, as would be the case in any sphere’s tendency
to dominate, involves creating the conditions that would discourage or
prevent exchanges between the sphere of commodities and other
spheres. This would mean blocking, through legal or moral means, the
purchase of political favours (as in cash for questions or votes, or poli-
cies for campaign contributions), or the exchange of money for any
other sphere’s good.
This account of justice is plausible, Walzer argues, because it re-
flects some very basic intuitions we have about the distinct character of
value); education (equality at basic level, capacity to benefit at higher levels); divine grace (pie-
ty). Other spheres Walzer covers in his Spheres of Justice include recognition/honours, citizen-
ship membership, hard work, and leisure/free time. Id.; cf. David Miller, Introduction, in PLURAL-
ISM, JUSTICE, AND EQUALITY 1, at 5–9 (David Miller & Michael Walzer eds., 1995).
32 E.g., Michael Walzer, Liberalism and the Art of Separation, 12 POL. THEORY 315 (1984).
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classes of institutions in general and about the limits of the use of mon-
ey in particular.33 As he puts it,
every social good or set of goods constitutes, as it were, a distributive
sphere within which only certain criteria and arrangements are ap-
propriate. Money is inappropriate in the sphere of ecclesiastical of-
fice; it is an intrusion from another sphere. And piety should make
for no advantage in the market place, as the marketplace has com-
monly been understood.34
This suggests that a powerful justification for this view of justice relates
very much to the importance we place upon the value of institutional
integrity and pluralism.
An attractive feature of Walzer’s position is that the integrity of in-
stitutional identity (and the pluralism it supports) plays a key role in
promoting another important value, the value of equality, or what
Walzer calls complex equality.The idea here is that a plurality of
inequalities (inhering in the different spheres) will have a cancellation,
rather than compounding, effect across the spheres.35 But Walzer’s main
argument emerges out of his efforts to foreground the implications of
taking the meaning of social goods seriously. The central values of in-
stitutional integrity and pluralism point to a notion of injustice con-
ceived as a function of domination through transboundary exchanges.
However, perhaps we can ask if dominance can be exercised in a much
more subtle way by blurring the boundaries while at the same time
maintaining the illegitimacy of literal exchanges across boundaries. In
other words, there may be a dimension of institutional identity and plu-
ralism that is not adequately addressed by Walzer’s solution of blocking
literal cross-sphere exchanges.
C. Markets as Spheres of Commodity Meanings:
Preferences are Foundational
33 WALZER, supra note 30, at 10003.
34 Id. at 10.
35 Several scholars have pointed out that Walzer has left unclear the precise relationship
holding between justice and equality. See Miller, supra note 31. As David Miller puts it, “[h]is
failure to specify the precise character of the argument connecting pluralism to equality leaves
him open to the charge that his egalitarianism is vanishingly weak.” David Miller, Complex
Equality, in PLURALISM, JUSTICE, AND EQUALITY, supra note 31, at 197, 205. While Miller
accepts the main thrust of this concern, he nevertheless feels that enough resources are to be
found both in Walzer’s texts and in the literature generally to mount a strong defense of his con-
ception of justice in terms of equality. In treating the link between pluralism and equality as
empirical, rather than conceptual, Miller appeals to sociological and social-psychological evi-
dence to defend the thesis that the maintenance of the autonomy of spheres promotes complex
equality, or what he prefers to call equality of status.Id.; see also David Miller, What Kind of
Equality Should the Left Pursue?, in EQUALITY 83 (Jane Franklin ed., 1997).
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2390 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
Walzer seeks to restrict the application of market logics to the
commodity sphere, whose boundaries are determined through an exam-
ination of the meanings inhering in the notion of commodity, con-
ceived as a category of good. Walzer believes that the examination of
the meanings associated with a particular category of good are rich
enough to define the scope and reach of a sphere, at least in terms of the
way goods and services are coordinated via exchanges between provid-
ers and users. It justifies blocking the acquisition of one sphere’s good
with the currency of another sphere. In the case of the commodity
sphere, this translates into a prohibition against the use of money to
purchase goods belonging to other spheres. His argument draws on on-
tological considerations rooted in a view of human beings as meaning-
producing animals. It is further bolstered by a mixture of empirical and
normative considerations, which David Miller has made explicit and
defended. As we saw above, keeping the spheres relatively autonomous
means that it is unlikely that any one person will have a monopoly of
goods in more than one sphere, thereby promoting equality of status.
However, there are those who feel that Walzer does not take his
argument far enough. Even if one accepts that Walzer has made the case
for distinct criteria of distribution as a function of a good’s meaning, is
it enough to defend pluralism by blocking intersphere exchanges in such
a literal way? Consider the relatively common call to inject a private
enterprise ethos into nonprivate sector institutional practices. Does this
call not assume that the generalisation of an enterprise form to the
conduct of public administration, for example, will not affect the identi-
ty and integrity of public administration but will simply make it work
better,’”36 and would blocking literal exchanges address these sorts of
concerns? Walzer’s argument from justice suggests that understanding
the market simply as a means, an instrument, or tool, misunderstands or
underestimates the role language and meaning play in the functioning of
human practices generally and market practices in particular. However,
it is unclear whether Walzer’s remedy of blocking literal exchanges is
sufficiently calibrated to his hermeneutic insight.
Drawing on the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, Russell Keat high-
lights the importance of the hermeneutic dimension operative in differ-
ent spheres of practice.37 However, he thinks it too restrictive to theorize
36 Paul du Gay, Organizing Identity: Entrepreneurial Governance and Public Management,
in QUESTIONS OF CULTURAL IDENTITY 151, 159 (Stuart Hall & Paul Du Gay eds., 1996); see also
Keat, Market Boundaries and the Commodification of Culture, in CULTURE AND ECONOMY
AFTER THE CULTURAL TURN 92 (Larry J. Ray & R. Andrew Sayer eds., 1999); Russell Keat, The
Moral Boundaries of the Market [hereinafter Keat, Moral Boundaries of the Market], in ETHICS
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the boundaries of the market sphere simply by asking whether money
has been used to purchase political favours, health services, etc. He ar-
gues that the colonizing tendencies of the market are not limited to such
literal exchanges, suggesting that they extend to the importation of the
market sphere’s meanings into other spheres, even if there is no literal
exchange of money for another sphere’s good. Indeed, Keat suggests
that an exclusive focus on what can properly be bought and sold may
well not fully capture what is at issue, and may even be misleading.38
Keat is of course taking his cue from an intuition that is expressed by
Walzer himself, but, as we noted earlier, Walzer does not fully develop
the implications of his own intuitions. There is thus a need to
focus not so much on the purely formal/legal fact of their being ‘pur-
chased’, but rather on what might be called the social meaning (or
perhaps meanings) of such transactionsto what is involved in treat-
ing or regarding something as a commodity. Once this is recognized,
one will also realise that things (including people) may be treated or
regarded in this way without literally becoming commodities, in the
sense of formally purchasable items; and indeed that it is the former,
rather than the latter, that is the morally significant feature here.39
Conceiving sphere dominance as a function of imposed patterns of
thinking and meaning as well, rather than as a function merely of literal
monetary exchanges, presses the argument against market colonization
beyond recommending the mere prevention of direct purchase of goods
like love, religious absolution, the outcome of a match, political or legal
favours, etc.40 More precisely, while the appeal to the value of institu-
Crouch & David Marquand eds., 1993); see also RUSSELL KEAT ET AL., THE AUTHORITY OF THE
CONSUMER (1994).
38 See Keat, Moral Boundaries of the Market, supra note 37, at 13.
39 Id. at 14.
40 The classic example of this type of colonization comes from the attempt to extend cost-
benefit analyses to new domains. Consider the case of environmental decision-making. Here,
cost-benefit analysiswhich ironically is relied upon in the face of market failure, the production
of “bad externalities”begins by asking hypothetical questions about the willingness of actors to
pay or be compensated for environmental pollution. More pervasive, however, is the importation
of a whole array of market terminology and practices since the heyday of the Reagan and
Thatcher eras. Quite apart from the daily confirmation of this phenomenon in the life of most
people at work, in their consumption of the media, and in their exposure to political exhortations,
this has been extensively documented in the literature. See, e.g., NORMAN FAIRCLOUGH, NEW
QUENCES OF WORK IN THE NEW CAPITALISM (1998). The displacement of emphasis from clients
or voters to customers, from providers to purchasers, from allocation to competition, from plan-
ning to regulation and deregulation, and from equality of outcome to equality of opportunity, are
just some of the more clear-cut examples of these language shifts. MARK DRAKEFORD, PRIVATI-
SATION AND SOCIAL POLICY 2527 (2000). Perhaps most striking of all is the shift from the
discourse of administration to the discourse of management, which has brought with it a slew of
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2392 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
tional integrity remains the source of such an argument, it suggests we
amplify our understanding of institutional identity by extending its
If the value of institutional integrity is embodied in sphere plural-
ism, the above analysis suggests that the spread of market meanings and
practices intonot merely literal exchanges acrossother domains
results in the weakening of the spheres’ distinctiveness. This is because
it imposes its own image upon these domains by way of language,
goals, norms, and standards.41 The dominance of market meanings is
impoverishing because it drains the life world of its variety by reinforc-
ing a unitary way of acting and thinking. This is clear when, for exam-
ple, we think about how the commercial enterprise has become the
model of choice when reforming the production and delivery of goods
and services in as diverse a set of institutions as hospitals, universities,
charities, and government departments. While it may not be possible to
buy your way to the front of a hospital queue or to buy yourself a place
at a university, it is still possible to claim that such discursive domi-
nance tends to homogenize and blur sphere boundaries through the re-
production and reinforcement of market norms and incentives in other
spheres, including virtues such as individual self-interest and competi-
Depending on the case, the effects of importedmarket meanings
will be felt more in the context of production or in the context of con-
sumption. Here I will focus on the interplay between these two con-
textsan interplay mediated most obviously through the notion that
user preferences reign supreme. In this view, a central feature of the
market is that consumer preferences require no justification.43 But this
leads to the problem that
associated satellite concepts: accountability, performance indicators and targets, performance-
related pay, etc. As Paul du Gay puts it, the “language of change . . . is a constitutive element of
contemporary managerial discourse,” wherein the “notion of ‘enterprise’ occupies an absolutely
crucial position in contemporary discourse of organizational reform”to the point where “the
character of the entrepreneur can no longer be represented as just one amongst a plurality of
ethical personalities but must be seen as assuming an ontological priority.” du Gay, supra note
36, at 153, 155, 157.
41 On this, see Elizabeth Anderson, The Ethical Limitations of the Market, 6 ECON. & PHIL.
179 (1990).
42 See du Gay, supra note 36, at 15558.
43 Keat, Moral Boundaries of the Market, supra note 37, at 16. This argumentthat the
importation of market meanings and techniques of conduct actually distorts and homogenizes
practicesapplies as much to the consumers of goods and services as to the producers of goods
and services. Russell Keat develops this point in relation to the more general account of social
practices offered by Alasdair MacIntyre. The key idea here concerns the way markets may serve
to promote monetary motivations over other sorts of motivations (or indeed may promote aliena-
tion and exploitation, depending on the relative power of producer and appropriator). In After
Virtue, MacIntyre draws a distinction between internal and external goods. A scientific theory, a
football match, or a theatrical performance are considered goods internal to science, football, or
theatre; and each of these practices has embedded within it sets of standards or criteria, enabling
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there is no guarantee that such preferences will be informed by or in
any way respect the authority of the goals and standards of the
practice concerned: the market refuses to discriminate between pref-
erences, whereas practices insist on doing so. Any particular group of
marketisedcultural practitioners is thus highly vulnerable to com-
petition from rival producerswho are willing and able to cater,
more profitably, for consumers whose preferences may be entirely
antithetical to the meaning and standards of the practice concerned.44
The potentially deleterious consequences of such moves to mar-
ketisationis precisely what is evoked, at least in the sphere of political
power, with the derogatory use of terms such as market-driven poli-
tics.45 Such a market ethos, it is argued, tends to reduce politics to the
satisfaction of citizens’ preferences, much in the same way that the
market economy attempts to satisfy consumer preferences. It leads to
the adoption by governments of a whole set of marketing apparatuses,
which are normally the bread-and-butter techniques of conductof
private companies: focus groups, opinion polls, etc. Moreover, it en-
courages governments to capture a larger voter shareby formulating
policies that satisfy people’s givenpreferences, rather than creating
the conditions in which such preferences can be shaped collectively
through the exercise of public reasoning. And to the extent that politics
has been moving in this direction since the rise of public relations in the
early twentieth century,46 it is to be expected that political theories
themselves would reflect this trend. Most prominent among such theo-
ries are social-choice theories,47 which treat citizens as satisfaction max-
participants to make judgments about whether the goods it produces are good, bad, worthy, un-
worthy, etc. But these norms are also what make it possible for participants to enjoy those goods
and thus to motivate them to produce them by acquiring and exercising relevant skills and capaci-
ties. The argument is that the pursuit of external goods, such as money, prestige, customer satis-
faction, “whilst by no means necessarily absent, must not come to predominate, especially if this
leads to actions that are at odds with the practice’s internal goals and standards.Id. A practice is
distorted because part of what it means to engage in such a practice is to be motivated by the
enjoyment of its internal goods. The market tends to homogenize a set of practices because the
vector of distortion points in the same direction, namely, toward monetary rewards or customer
satisfaction as primary motivator. In other words, our understanding of institutional identity may
need to reach beyond the view that sphere pluralism remains intact so long as there is no direct
purchase of another sphere’s good. Instead, it may be necessary to consider extending the notion
of a threat to institutional integrity to include those cases in which the market meanings and
techniques of conduct begins to dominate other classes of institutional practice irrespective of
whether there are (or are not) direct cross-boundary purchases.
44 Id. at 19.
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2394 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
imisers and political decision-making as a means of maximising citizen
satisfaction. The claim, in this regard, is that such an account of motiva-
tion may lead to [an] over-emphasis on self-interest which will eventu-
ally deplete the normative legacy of welfare citizenship.48 In other
words, the reliance on self-interest by theoreticians acquires a slightly
more insidious dimension because of the positive feedback effect it
could generate: the more our policies rely on theories that presuppose
and thus treat people as self-interested satisfaction maximisers, the more
they tend to reinforce and encourage such behaviour and outlook, be-
coming in this way a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
The central objection to this type of market colonizationresides
in the status of preferences that comes with the smuggling in of the no-
tion of consumer sovereignty.Keat characterises the spread of market
meanings, as opposed to market exchanges, as illegitimate because of
the assimilation of what should be regarded as judgements of value to
what are ‘no more than’ the expression of individual preferences: i.e., to
those rather mysterious entities which . . . are indicated by a consumer’s
willingness to purchase something.”49 For it is a central feature of the
market that consumer preferences require no justification. Indeed it is
this feature that is responsible for generating the efficiency gains of this
type of distribution. It is the motorthat affects what and how much of
a good is produced.
Of course problems associated with treating given preferences as
an independent variable that serves as the bedrock of rational choice,
social choice, and utilitarian forms of explanatory and normative under-
standings have been exhaustively and critically reviewed in the litera-
ture. They share a common concern with the tendency to understand
rationality rather monolithically and narrowly as instrumental.50 Such
critiques point to the need to make processes of preference formation
the central focus of critical analysis, both as a way to better understand
the practice of producers and consumers and as a way to create the nor-
mative space in which considerations of democracy and fuller concep-
tions of personal and collective autonomy beyond freedom of choice
may begin to exert some influence. This is not to say that there are
many instances when user preferences can serve as a legitimate means
of shaping the way goods and services are produced, distributed, and
consumed. Affirming this point, however, presupposes we have a broad
enough analytical framework within which such normative judgements
MURRAY, LOSING GROUND: AMERICAN SOCIAL POLICY, 19501980 (tenth anniversary ed.
48 Peter Taylor-Gooby, Markets and Motives: Trust and Egoism in Welfare Markets, 28 J.
SOC. POLY 97, 99 (1999).
49 Keat, Moral Boundaries of the Market, supra note 37, at 16.
50 For sample surveys of some of this literature, see Taylor-Gooby, supra note 48, at 10001;
and HIRSCHMAN, RIVAL VIEWS, supra note 2, chs. 2, 7.
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can be made, one that takes on board the hermeneutic insight outlined
earlier, generating descriptive and interpretive nuance within, between,
and beyond market practices.
D. Markets as Part of Complex and Interdependent Systems of
Exchange and Nonexchange
Recent work emerging out of a critical engagement with economic
sociology and neoinstitutional economics has sought to present just such
a conceptual and analytical framework that respects the specificity,
richness, and complexity of market practices and thus also of market
boundaries. Inspired by Polanyi’s notion of Instituted Economic Process
(IEP), this approach emphasizes how markets are best seen as always in
the process of being instituted, and how this process of institution, in
turn, is best understood using a triple analytical grid. First, any one set
of economic exchange processes is interdependent with others, both
market and non-market, forming nexuses of exchange processes and
interactions between different markets, as a condition for any given
exchange process between a class of sellers and a class of buyers.”51
Second, differences in the specificities of exchange processes [are]
analysed across three aspects: the nature of the entities traded, the spe-
cific characteristics of the agents engaged in the exchange process, and
the spatial and temporal specificities of exchange processes,”52 includ-
ing medium of exchange, as well as the history and context of relations
between exchanging agents. These aspects speak directly to the herme-
neutical dimension of practices. And finally, such repositioning of
marketsentails viewing them not simply as one of a number of possi-
ble exchange processes. This is because the exchange process is itself
but one phase in a process that stretches from production, through dis-
tribution to consumption,53 and describing and explaining a market’s
complex articulations with these further phases comprise an additional
and equally important part of understanding its functioning and signifi-
cance. This triple analytical grid, then, seeks to enable researchers to
capture the variety and continual transformation of exchange process-
es.54 When the complex interdependencies between different exchange
processes, within particular exchange processes, and between different
51 Mark Harvey & Sally Randles, Markets, the Organisation of Exchanges and ‘Instituted
Economic Process’: An Analytical Perspective, in MARKETS, RULES AND INSTITUTIONS OF
EXCHANGE 62, at 77 (Mark Harvey ed., 2010).
52 Id.
53 Mark Harvey, Introduction: Putting Markets in Their Place, in MARKETS, RULES AND
INSTITUTIONS OF EXCHANGE, supra note 51, at 1, 3.
54 Harvey & Randles, supra note 51.
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phases in the economic circuit are also understood hermeneutically and
discursively and thus in terms of overdetermination, IEP enables a po-
tentially high-resolution explanatory and critical engagement with the
social, normative, and political aspects of an economic circuit.
IEP provides a loose yet fine-grained framework for generating
critical explanations of markets and other sorts of exchange relations.
However, it does not, on its own, furnish specific normative resources
with which to consider when and why aspects of a particular sort of
market should be introduced into a particular social sphere. It is here
that the work of Walzer and Keat may prove helpful, specifically their
conceptualization of the market as a sphere of commodity meanings.
We recall how they identify the values of pluralism and institutional
integrity as key to their critical perspective. This provides us with a
fruitful starting point because it furnishes us with initial normative
grounds for preventing the market sphere from dominating other social
spheres. This is a starting point only because such a perspective does
not really help us determine when legitimate influence shades into ille-
gitimate domination, whether with respect to one or more nonmarket
spheres. In other words, the weakness of the argument from pluralism is
that it still leaves aspects of the normative framework underspecified.
Because it is pitched at a fairly high level of abstraction, it tends to treat
all spheres as equally important, resulting in a kind of banal equivalence
wherein each sphere is regarded as just as attractive as another.
The problem with remaining at the level of institutional integrity
and pluralism can be readily appreciated when we note how the impor-
tation of one sphere’s meanings into another may actually be normative-
ly desirable on some occasions. This is clear when we think of the mas-
sive impact effected when the ideal of the equality of the sexes travelled
from one sphere to another. As Laclau and Mouffe, among others, have
noted, [i]n the case of feminism, it was a question of gaining access for
women first to political rights; later to economic equality; and, with
contemporary feminism, to equality in the domain of sexuality.55 There
is thus a displacement along the axis of gender from a critique of politi-
cal inequality to a critique of economic inequality which leads to the
putting in question of other forms of subordination and the demanding
of new rights.56 The trouble with remaining at the level of institutional
integrity and the kind of pluralism it instantiates is the underspecifica-
tion of the problems associated with the importation of the market ethos
into particular social domains beyond the simple empirical hypothesis
that it is (or is becoming) hegemonic.57
55 LACLAU & MOUFFE, supra note 14, at 156.
56 Id.
57 See Colin Williams, The Market Illusion: Re-Reading Work in Advanced Economies, 25
INTL J. SOC. & SOC. POLY 106 (2005), for a perspective that contests this view.
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Perhaps, then, one could argue that there should be a presumption
in favour of pluralism (on grounds of institutional integrity and, per-
haps, equality), but that this presumption may be rebutted on normative
and evidentiary grounds. In other words, the kinds of reasons generated
by a perspective rooted in the value of institutional integrity would still
carry weight, but they would not be sufficient to accord this value an
absolute status. The central worry, however, would remain, namely, that
such a perspective does not offer a special argument about why particu-
lar aspects of a market (such as literal price-mediated exchanges or the
idea that consumer preferences should be treated as foundational) are
especially problematic from the point of view of a particular nonmarket
sphere’s meanings (and vice versa, of course). In order to make more
robust one’s normative argument in favour or against the extension of
market boundaries in a particular case, one will have to be more precise
about the relevant aspects of the market that might be problematic from
the point of view of the specific dimensions of the practice at stake. In
short, when talking about how the aspects of one sphere exert an influ-
ence upon another sphere, appeals to terms like distortion,” “colonisa-
tion,imposition, domination, and infiltrationtend to carry with
them normatively negative connotations that require further justifica-
For example: What aspects of the sphere of politics might one con-
sider to be incompatible with which dimensions of the market sphere,
and why? According to one view, by privileging preferences over (pub-
lic) reasoning, the importation of market meanings and techniques of
conduct into other domains such as politics depletes social capital by
rendering collective action improbable on a range of issues because it
quashes public deliberation by marginalizing people’s reasoning capaci-
ties and tending, even if only by default, to create the space for the pro-
liferation of individual self-interest. Even if (or perhaps because) indi-
vidual self-interest acts as a powerful motivational force in some
spheres of life, this should not be allowed to become the dominant mo-
tivational force in politics or other domains.58 This is where one could
situate the work of republican theorists of freedom, not to mention a
whole host of deliberative theorists of democracy.59 For they offer us a
58 See, e.g., CITIZENSHIP, MARKETS, AND THE STATE (Colin Crouch et al. eds., 2001); CATH-
Melissa A. Orlie, The Desire for Freedom and the Consumption of Politics, 28 PHIL. & SOC.
CRITICISM 395 (2002).
59 In one version of republican freedom, political freedom is conceived as nondomination.
RY OF FREEDOM AND GOVERNMENT (1997); Philip Pettit, Republican Freedom and Contestatory
Democracy, in DEMOCRACYS VALUE 163 (Ian Shapiro & Casiano Hacker-Cordón eds., 1999).
This version of republican freedom carries the thought that no one ought to be subject to anoth-
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framework within which a politics of reasons can function not only as a
space in which another dimension of personal autonomy can flourish,
thereby acting as a bulwark against the incursion of the market ethos,
but also as a space wherein one can adjudicate the question of where
and when it may indeed be appropriate to extend market logics into
other domains.
We have seen how the hermeneutic dimension of practices, when
acknowledged and taken seriously, generates a more nuanced and dif-
ferentiated perspective within which explanatory and critical issues
linked to market boundaries can be thematized and debated. A key ob-
jective of this final Part is to bring these long-running and ongoing de-
bates about the character of markets and market boundaries into closer
contact with a psychoanalytically informed political theory. My strategy
in discharging this objective is to start by situating the fields of psycho-
analysis and political economyparticularly the objects of their inves-
tigationin relation to a more recent trenda trend that can be summa-
rized by what I call the turn to matterin social and political studies.
In The New Materialisms, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost com-
ment that [e]verywhere we look . . . we are witnessing scattered but
insistent demands for more materialist modes of analysis and for new
ways of thinking about matter and processes of materialization.”60 They
interpret these trends as signs that the more textual approaches associ-
ated with the so-called cultural turn are increasingly being deemed in-
adequate for understanding contemporary society, particularly in light
of some of its most urgent challenges regarding environmental, demo-
er’s capacity to interfere on an arbitrary basis, where the two italicized words point to this ideal’s
central distinguishing themes. “The first theme is that the non-interfering master takes away the
subject’s freedom [because the master has the capacity to interfere arbitrarily]; the second that the
non-mastering interferer does not [because it is not arbitrary].” PETTIT, A THEORY OF FREEDOM,
supra, at 145, 14449 (emphasis added). The justification for this political ideal of freedom is not
instrumental: it is not construed as a necessary empirical condition for something else, such as
negative individual freedom a la Skinner. See QUENTIN SKINNER, LIBERTY BEFORE LIBERALISM
(Canto Classics ed. 2012); P.J. Kelly, Classical Utilitarianism and the Concept of Freedom: A
Response to the Republican Critique, 6 J. POL. IDEOLOGIES 13 (2001); Philip Pettit, Keeping
Republican Freedom Simple: On a Difference with Quentin Skinner, 30 POL. THEORY 339
(2002). From this point of view, the only way a state can help foster its citizens’ freedom as
nondomination “is to make the state, so far as possible, non-arbitrary in its operation.” PETTIT, A
THEORY OF FREEDOM, supra, at 154. This perspective, then, might open up an interesting van-
tage point from which to approach the question of market interference.
60 Diana Coole & Samantha Frost, Introducing the New Materialisms, in NEW MATERIAL-
ISMS: ONTOLOGY, AGENCY, AND POLITICS 1, 2 (Diana Coole & Samantha Frost eds., 2010).
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graphic, geopolitical, and economic change.61 In this call to move be-
yond the cultural turn, however, it is worth emphasizing what is com-
mon among these textual and discursive approaches, including ap-
proaches linked to well-known cognate turns: the linguistic turn, the
semiotic turn, the discursive turn, and so on. Especially when viewed
against the backdrop of a social science paradigm defined in terms of
causal laws and mechanisms, we could say that discursive approaches
associated with the cultural turn have in common their affirmation of
the hermeneutic insight, namely, that any social study must begin by
taking seriously the self-interpretations and wider discursive contexts of
subjects embedded in practices.
It is against this background that Coole and Frost conclude that
[o]ur contemporary context demands a theoretical rapprochement with
material realism.62 So we get the idea here that the appeal to matter
aims to capture something about the limits of discourse and meaning,
without, however, losing sight of the hermeneutic insight. This gener-
ates the following three sets of questions. First, how might we best con-
ceptualize the matter of markets? I try to cash this out with the help of
Actor Network Theory in terms of logics of calculability.” A second
question is how best we might conceptualize the matter of psychoanaly-
sis, which I address in terms of enjoymentand logics of fantasy.My
overarching aim is to juxtapose these two perspectives on matter and
see what that produces in terms of effects. I ask how we can begin to
think the relation between these two sorts of matter and what insights
psychoanalytic theory can generate on the question of market bounda-
A. Market Matter: Logics of Calculability
In this Section, I focus on an approach to markets mentioned in the
introduction but so far not elaborated. This perspective emerges out of a
particular strand of economic sociology called Actor Network Theory
(ANT), usually associated with the names of Bruno Latour, Michel Cal-
lon, and John Law. Drawing on Science and Technology Studies, this
approach sets out to describe in detail and with nuance what is specific
about market practices and indeed other practices, thereby opening up a
space in which to deploy more explicitly normative arguments around
the question of market boundaries. One reason for focusing on this ap-
proach is that it shares with psychoanalytic theory a sensitivity to the
materiality of a practice, specifically that which escapes discursive cap-
61 Id. at 23.
62 Id. at 6.
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2400 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
ture, or rather, what lies at the limits of discourse and meaning. Callon’s
work on markets, for example, focuses on a key condition that makes
possible the pricing of goods and services, namely, their calculabil-
ity.63 When it bumps up against the world, markets experience this
discursive limit as a perturbation that it needs to tame through a process
of formalization, by deploying its logics of calculability. Discursive
limits thus have an external source, even if they can only be processed
internally using already available discursive resources. Logics of calcu-
lability help transform the perturbation into something that is assimila-
ble and understandable by means of acalculative assemblage(a
whole army of calculative agents and material instruments). Such an
approach, moreover,
emphasizes the diversity of possible forms of market organization. A
good can be rendered calculablethat is, individualized and objecti-
fiedin a multitude of different ways. Calculative agencies are as
numerous and diverse as the tools they use and the hybrid collectives
to which those tools belong.64
Yet, despite this recognition of diversity in the way goods and ser-
vices are rendered calculable, the idea that markets rely on conditions
that make calculation possible remains constantin other words, logics
of calculability appear to play a critical role in the operation of markets.
From this perspective, the market ideal of consumer sovereignty and
preference-based choice might assume not only that consumer prefer-
ences are given or fixed or that consumer preferences require no justifi-
cation. It assumes two further things in particular. First, it assumes
goods and services must be well defined and delimited at the moment of
exchange in order to ensure the orderly passage of rights in property
from one party to the other (in the form of a discrete transaction); and
second, it assumes that the terms of exchange are also well defined in
advance. The question of market boundaries might then be reformulated
as follows: When, and in what form, is the introduction of calculability
conditions into a particular sphere of practice appropriate?65
63 Michel Callon, Introduction: The Embeddedness of Economic Markets in Economics, in
THE LAWS OF THE MARKETS 1, 2224 (Michel Callon ed., 1998).
64 Michel Callon & Fabian Muniesa, Peripheral Vision: Economic Markets as Calculative
Collective Devices, 26 ORG. STUD. 1229, 1245 (2005).
65 Their perspective allows us to pose questions about asymmetries of power, where power is
understood in terms of calculative capacity. Relations of domination, then, can be understood to
exist where there is a pronounced concentration in the hands of one party of powers of calcula-
tion. See id. at 1239, 1245. In the case of a supermarket, for example, irrespective of how strong
the consumer’s calculative agency that evaluates the attachment of goods to his or her own world
may be, it remains weak compared with the calculative power of supply, which is highly
equipped, at least in the case of mass retail.” Id. at 1238. Of course, consumers
continue to calculate, i.e. to evaluate their attachment to a good, but they do so by
means of tools designed by the seller. By walking down supermarket aisles, inspecting
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So far I have sketched out a picture of one key aspect of markets in
terms of logics of calculability. But the question of market boundaries
as formulated here also implies having a view about the character and
logics of other social domains, if only because the sense and signifi-
cance of market boundaries is most forcefully appreciated when market
logics start to impinge upon erstwhile nonmarket domains such as poli-
tics, health, or education. In other words, answering the question of
when it is appropriate to extend market logics entails forming a judge-
ment about the character of other social domains, too.
If we look to the domain of politics, for example, we can see a
whole array of calculative devices being deployed in the service of ren-
dering political entities calculable and thus exchangeable for citizens’
votes (e.g., in the form of manifesto promises), at least in democratic
polities that rely on aggregative forms of fixed-term elections. These
include professional pollsters, survey templates, focus groups, and so
on. Market logics of calculability might then be counterposed to logics
of collective and public deliberation.
1. Calculability Logics and Logics of Care and Attunement
The boundaries and limits of markets can, of course, be drawn with
reference to domains other than politics. Annemarie Molalso drawing
on ANTconsiders the question of boundaries in relation to the domain
of health, diabetic health care in particular, where she counterposes
logics of choice and calculation to logics of care.66 For Mol, there is a
clear problem with attempts to introduce market logics into diabetic
care practice. This is because the market
requires that some product (device, plus skills training, plus kindness
and attention) is delineated as the product on offer. A lot may be in-
shelves and reading labels, consumers continue a calculation that was started and
framed by qualified professionals. But they can reverse the relationship. In this respect
it is appropriate to remember the useful distinction between planned and impulsive
buying. The former corresponds to greater autonomy for the consumer, whose equip-
ment, prepared in advance, depends less on that provided by the shop. By contrast, the
latter corresponds to a heteronomous position in which the consumer, strolling along
without any specific intention, becomes an appendage of the calculative device created
by the experts of marketing and stock. . . . In these encounters, whether it is the con-
sumer hesitating between two packets of smoked ham or a couple anxiously following
the real estate agent’s calculations to assess their debt capacity, radically different val-
ues are confronted. When a compromise is reached it has to be interpreted as a com-
promise not on values but on the instruments that calculate values.
Id. at 1239 (emphasis added) (internal citation omitted).
66 Cf. Jason Glynos & Ewen Speed, Varieties of Co-Production in Public Services: Time-
banks in a UK Health Policy Context, 6 CRITICAL POLY STUD. (forthcoming 2012) (on file with
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2402 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
cluded in this product, but what is on offer and what is not has to be
specified. Then, or so the logic of choice has it, you may choose it or
In other words, a market requires that the product that changes
hands in a transaction be clearly defined.68 By contrast, diabetic care,
and by extension much health care practice, is understood in terms of an
open-ended process whose boundaries are negotiated and renegotiated
on an ongoing basis. This difference, according to Mol, is irreducible.
Moreover, in the logics of care, offering support is not the same thing
as doing what patients wantor think they would choose.69
The key material point here is that by trying to make diabetic
treatment calculable, Mol argues that the market cannot accommodate
what is specific to care practice. In this view, caring is largely a practi-
cal matter.She points out, of course, that
[t]his does not mean that nobody ever needs to be make choices [or
calculations]. Instead, in this logic “making a choice” appears as yet
another practical task [governed by a different logic because it is sit-
uated in a different materialist assemblage]. Take the choice [and
implied calculation invoked by the question] “shall I play sport seri-
ously or not?” This depends on more than arguments. . . . [Of
course], as part of making this [calculation and] choice, you have to
figure out if you can get yourself to eat on time, [as well as] measure,
[and] adapt your insulin dose. [But, h]ours after your football match
or your jogging hour, your blood sugar level may still drop: can you
watch out for that?70
The idea here is that one cannot in advance anticipate, delimit, or
calculate what contingencies your body will throw up. It is an essential
part of care to experiment and probe the limits of one’s body in different
contexts, then adjust the care regime accordingly, including one’s
hopes, expectations, and associated meanings. Such adjustments will
take place over extended periods of time, sometimes in response to sur-
prising and unexpected findings, and often with the assistance and ad-
vice of health professionals. Logics of calculation can thus be contrasted
with what one could call logics of attunement.”71 There is a gradual
and constant adjustment, or attunement, of activities on the part of the
patient and on the part of the health professionals to each other, to new
medical developments, to new contexts, to one’s hermeneutic and nor-
mative frameworks, and so on.
20 (2008).
68 Id. at 23.
69 Id. at 29.
70 Id. at 93.
71 See id. at 5862.
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2. From Market Matter to Psychoanalytic Matter
ANT offers a way of thinking about market practices in terms of
logics of calculability, contrasting this with health care practices cashed
out in terms of logics of attunement. In both cases, we have seen how
the material dimension of these logics is essential to their operation,
where matteris understood with reference to the idea of discursive
limits. In the case of markets, these limits are approached through vari-
ous processes of formalization or logics of calculability. In the case of
health, these limits are approached through logics of attunement, pro-
cesses that respond to the contingencies thrown up on an ongoing basis
in care practices, most notably by the body. Such a perspective clearly
opens up a space to think about why we might hesitate before extending
market logics into new domains of social life.
What sorts of question, then, might a psychoanalytic perspective
provoke? At the outset of Part III, I invoked the turn to matter as a
way of framing my argument and, as we have seen so far, it is important
for the advocates of the ANT approach to move beyond an exclusive
concern with discourse and meaning. In foregrounding, the material
dimension of practices they point to the myriad ways discourse and
matter become inextricably intertwined in what they theorize as actor-
networks: interlinked instruments, bodies, and minds. In shifting our
focus along this axis, then, we might ask what we should take to be the
matter of psychoanalysis?
B. Psychoanalytic Matter: The Role of Enjoyment and Fantasy in a
Critical Political Economy
At first sight, asking after the matterof psychoanalysis may
seem a tall order. After all, discourse and meaning are central to the
psychoanalytic enterprise. Perhaps, however, its key conceptthe un-
conscious has more to do with the limits of discourse and meaning
than with discourse and meaning per se? In which case psychoanalysis
shares an affinity with the ANT approach insofar as they both appeal to
a type of matter construed in terms of limits to discourse and meaning.
Following this line of thought, we could say that the material dimension
of psychoanalytic theory and practice can be summarized in the word
In one of his many colourful formulations, this one from Seminar
17, Lacan describes enjoyment as that which once you have started,
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you never know where it will end. It begins with a tickle and ends in a
blaze of petrol.72 Enjoyment, or what Lacan calls jouissance, is closely
associated with the Freudian notions of libido, primordial loss, or pri-
mary repression. Analysts use this category, along with a set of other
concepts such as fantasy, desire, repression, and so on, to account for a
symptom’s inertiaits resistance to our conscious attempts to dissolve
Inertia serves as a way to grasp the material dimension coursing
through psychoanalytic practice. And enjoyment (or unconscious pleas-
ure) presents itself as a concept with which to understand this inertia. So
we could say that Lacan glosses Freud’s notion of a primordial loss as a
loss of enjoyment, where the notion of primordial loss is, according to
Freud and Lacan, constitutive of subjectivity. The lost object is pri-
mordial in the sense that it is something we never hadand for this
reason impossible to recover. Nevertheless, it is said that this lost object
structures the desire and being of the subject. So enjoyment is linked to
impossibility and its fantasized overcoming. The psychoanalytic claim,
in short, is that the subject derives its sense of being through enjoyment.
This, then, is one way of conceptualizing the matter of psychoanalysis.
1. Enjoyment, Affect, and Fantasy
The focus on enjoyment as part of an enhanced analytical frame-
work can also be seen as partaking in another trend besides the turn to
matter, often labeled the affective turn,and culminating now in a
thriving sociology and politics of emotions.73 The insight shared by
scholars, including Lacanian scholars, is that by taking into account
emotion, affect, and passion, one may be able to reach a more thorough
understanding of the material dimension of discourse as that which
The emphasis placed by Lacanian scholars on emotion, affect, and
enjoyment may come as a bit of a surprise to an earlier generation much
more accustomed to Lacan’s notoriety as a symbolic and intellectual
snob.But the emphasis placed upon the symbolic order by Lacan is
better understood as indicating a complex approach to affect rather than
a demotion of emotion. No doubt Lacan cautions against what he sees
PSYCHOANALYSIS 72 (Jacques-Alain Miller ed., Russell Grigg trans., W.W. Norton & Co. 2007)
dore D. Kemper ed., 1990); Jeff Goodwin et al., Introduction: Why Emotions Matter, in PAS-
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as a temptation to treat emotions as brute factums, in other words, to
reify emotions, attributing to them an autonomy and identity that exists
independently of their wider discursive framing, a perspective shared of
course by many non-Lacanian scholars, too.
Taking affect to represent a quantum of libidinal energy, the sug-
gestion here is that emotion should be understood in terms of the way
affect gets caught up in a network of words or signifiers. So Lacan pos-
its a kind of methodological postulate, which we could put in the form
of the injunction Follow the signifier!,implying that we pay special
attention to the letterof what is said through multiple displacements
of affect. This suggests that a key aspect of understanding the signifi-
cance of emotions in the organization of social practices involves trying
to map them in relation to the underlying fantasies that organize enjoy-
For purposes of offering an initial sketch, we could say, following
Freud, that fantasy denotes a framing device which subjects use to pro-
tectthemselves from the anxiety associated with the idea that there is
no ultimate guarantee or law underlying and guiding our social exist-
ence. This guarantee has been given many names, certainly when one
takes the long historical view: God, Reason, the Senses, the Laws of
History, and so on. But this guaranteeconceived as a key part of the
fantasmatic device used to defend against a form of Cartesian anxie-
ty”—can take any guise whatsoever.
An important aspect of fantasy is that the status psychoanalysis
gives to it is not so much epistemological as it is ontological and ethical.
While fantasy may take on a potentially infinite number of different
contents, it also has a certain logic. For example, we could say that the
logic of fantasy is such that there will always be features of its narrative
that tend to resist public official disclosure because they are in some
way socially prohibited or unsettling. All this is simply to say that the
appeal to fantasy should be understood primarily as a means to access
the structure of desire and libido, rather than as a means of dismissing a
belief or worldview as untrue or irrational because it does not conform
to a particular understanding of reality.
Within this general framework, then, we could get at the content of
fantasy by exploring, for example, its ideals, the obstacles to achieving
such ideals, the way challenges can be overcome, the vision of a suc-
cessful outcome, and the imagined consequences of failure. Construct-
ing fantasy in this way has clear political implicationsfor example,
normative and policy implicationsbecause the identities of key play-
ers and visions in the fantasmatic narrative correspond only to a subset
75 As a side note, it is worth noting how, in the case of the MPs’ expenses scandal, an analysis
of the reports during 2009 reveal the contours of at least two such fantasies: fantasies of self-
sufficiency and fantasies of paternalism. Chang & Glynos, supra note 21.
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2406 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
of possible visions or ideals, thereby structuring and delimiting our ide-
as about which social norms are worthy of public contestation and how
they should be revised.76
Having said something about the matter of psychoanalysis, I will
now start the journey back to the problem of market boundaries by re-
calling the way fantasy can work, and has already worked, as a useful
entry pointfrom the point of view of a general critical political econ-
omy. I can summarize in two steps the analytical and critical benefits of
focusing on fantasy, whatever moments in the economic circuit one
cares to probe. First, such a perspective highlights how fantasy may
serve to bolster certain ideals that are not only contestable but also nor-
matively suspect. Second, it reveals how a subject can get hooked into
its logic, in the sense that the subject becomes strongly attached to or
gripped by it. These two aspects relate to questions of fantasmatic con-
tent on the one hand, and on the other hand the mode by which a subject
relates to this content.
This two-fold point is neatly and crisply summarized in Lacan’s
claim that even if a patient’s wife really is sleeping around with other
men, the husband’s jealousy can still be regarded as pathological. La-
can’s point here is that, while it is true that this man’s jealousy is struc-
tured around the specific content of his fantasy (in which his wife and
other men play lead roles), and while this content mayor may not
diverge from our consensus reality (i.e., whether she really is sleeping
around or not), the manner and degree of investment in this fantasmatic
narrative speaks to something other than the content, namely, the mode
of his enjoyment.
Both these aspects are important of course, but the mode of enjoy-
ment aims at something distinctive within the Lacanian framework,
namely, the idea of a psychoanalytic ethic that can contribute to a theory
of ideology, and that takes its distance from standard conceptions of
ideology critique premised on the idea of false-consciousness. More-
over, as we saw in Part I, fantasyinsofar as this speaks to the idea of
split subjectivitycan be used as a critical entry pointfor any and all
moments in an economic circuit, including aspects and phases of rele-
vant policy processes.
76 The normative and ideological role of fantasy was especially clear to see in the MPs’
expenses scandal. See id.
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2. A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Market Boundaries
In exploring the implications of these reflections for the question
of market boundaries it is helpful to draw together two strands of my
argument. The first strand seeks to show how the psychoanalytic inter-
vention can be understood as relevant to a number of momentsin an
economic circuit: moments of production, appropriation, distribution,
exchange, and consumption. This means that the categories of subjectiv-
ity, enjoyment and fantasy can be understood as potentially pertinent for
any one of these moments, including the way they are reflected into
different stages of the policy process. Moreover, in this view, markets
are understood as highly complex and overdetermined entities that put
into question straightforward oppositions between markets and states,
free markets and regulation, and so on. In trying to understand processes
of marketization in the public sector, for example, it is clear that the
moments of production, consumption, and exchange are closely inter-
twined. In other words, the delivery of public services is a lot messier
than the standard supermarket image of the market would lead us to
expect, and that this complexity needs to be addressed when evaluating
efforts to marketize particular goods or services.
A second strand of my argument, however, seeks to better under-
stand not so much the site of psychoanalytic intervention (cashed out in
terms of a moment of consumption, production, or exchange, or in
terms of a policy stage/level), but the character of such an intervention.
One way to grasp this, as I have argued above, is through the category
of matter.But it is still unclear how the idea of a psychoanalytic mat-
ter can serve as a supplement to the way ANT, for example, deploys the
notion of matter in trying to ascertain the limits and boundaries of mar-
kets. I will thus briefly compare and contrast the ANT and psychoana-
lytic approaches to matter, showing how this bears upon the question of
markets and market boundaries.
Treating markets in terms of calculative logics seeks to capture
something about market practice that is robustin the sense that it ex-
ceeds conscious attempts by any one individual to modify or alter that
practice. This is because such logics are embedded not just in a set of
institutional positions and relations, but also in a range of material cal-
culative assemblages comprising agencies, bodies, instruments, and
tools. These calculative assemblages work also at the very limits of dis-
course and meaning, precisely at those moments when perturbations
exceed their capacity to discursively and meaningfully process them, at
least in any immediate way. The same applies, of course, when we ex-
amine the domain of health in terms of logics of care and attunement. In
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2408 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
both cases, the source of the perturbations marking the limits of dis-
course lie outside the boundaries of their respective domains. The do-
mains of markets and health merely have different means or logicsby
which they seek to process the externally induced discursive perturba-
tions they experience.
The distinct ways in which discursive limits are circumscribed in
these two domains becomes more apparent when their respective logics
bump up against each other, for example, through various attempts to
implement policy reforms that introduce market logics into the domain
of health. The health sector, insofar as this is informed by logics of care
embodied in material-institutional assemblages, tends to experience
these market reform initiatives as intrusions that provoke normative
questions. For example, to what extent might importing market logics
into the domain of health respect sufficiently the values embedded in
social logics of care and attunement, or, if not, do the sorts of values
market logics promote compensate for those it will marginalize?
What then does a psychoanalytic perspective add to this picture?
My argument here is that fantasy adds a further dimension to our analy-
sis because it takes its bearing largely from a different sort of matter,
linked to a limit whose primary source of affective energy is inherent to
its discourse and not one that is external to it. This is because discourse
comprises not just meanings, structures of meaning, and institutions that
embody and reinforce those structures of meaning. Discourses are also
animated by individual and collective subjects who, as subjects of de-
sire, are in the business of constituting and projecting fantasies of one
sort or another. Such fantasies respond to the inherent limits of dis-
course, the impossibility of saying it all,thereby structuring a particu-
lar sort of matter, distinct from the one that serves as the central object
for ANT.77 This implies that what accounts for the resilience and draw
of market practices, or indeed other sorts of practices, are not simply the
material calculative or care assemblages, along with the meanings, hab-
its, norms, discourses, and institutional matrices associated with them.
These are important for sure; but what accounts for their resilience and
draw is also the fantasmatically structured enjoyment that courses
through, and in this way also constitutes, such practices.
A psychoanalytic perspective might therefore open up the follow-
ing sorts of question: What sorts of fantasies can serve as support for the
operation of market logics? What fantasmatic narrative might bolster
the idea that we can and should delimit in an as precise a manner as
possible the goods and services we produce and consume? Do we find
77 This is not to say that these two sorts of matter (i.e., extradiscursive and intradiscursive
matter) cannot sometimes become mutually imbricated. On this, see Jason Glynos, Body, Dis-
course, and the Turn to Matter, in LANGUAGE, IDEOLOGY, AND THE HUMAN: NEW INTERVEN-
TIONS (Sanja Bahun & Dušan Radunovic eds, 2012).
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fantasies that reinforce or project aspirations of control, mastery, and
self-sufficiency? And what precise form and content do they assume?
Let’s call them fantasies of independence. Conversely, if we look to the
various logics informing social and health care practices, might we find
there a wish for pastoral or paternal care, a desire for protection or for
safe and unconditional containment? Let’s call them fantasies of the
caring Other or fantasies of dependence. This analysis suggests we situ-
ate the psychoanalytic contribution to the debate about market bounda-
ries in the wider context of theories of ideology, because it promises to
tell us something about the grip that market ideology exercises over
us, or indeed the grip that a form of care ideology might exercise over
us.78 A psychoanalytic perspective can thus contribute to the debate
over market boundaries by opening up these sorts of explanatory ques-
tions for us. But it also aspires to furnish us with a critical vantage
From a normative point of view, a psychoanalytic perspective does
not, of course, enable us to take sides in any simple way. It does not
come out in favour of fantasies of self-sufficiency over fantasies of the
caring Other, for example, or vice versa. Nor can we deduce in any
straightforward or direct way from psychoanalytic theory itself whether
we should support those who seek to introduce the market into health
care or those who seek to protect the state, the user, or the medical pro-
fessionals from such incursions. In a clinical context, of course, some
schools of psychoanalysis explicitly caution against analysts making
normative interventions. In a social-policy context, however, it is clear
that any normative contribution inspired by psychoanalysis will be a
product of a complex process of articulation. Psychoanalytic principles
can and are brought to bear on those normative impulses immanent in
the practices under study, as well as relevant normative theories, but the
outcomes of such efforts cannot be determined outside the trajectories
and wider contexts of these articulatory processes.
Perhaps, however, the strongest critical contribution of psychoana-
lytic praxis ought to be situated in an ideological, rather than normative,
plane. This can best be seen in its effort to show what fantasies of inde-
78 For a sample of works exploring an area of thought defined by the intersection of Lacanian
psychoanalysis, political economy, and theories of ideology, see generally TODD MCGOWAN,
SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK, THE SUBLIME OBJECT OF IDEOLOGY (1989); Jason Glynos, The Grip of Ideology:
A Lacanian Approach to the Theory of Ideology, 6 J. POL. IDEOLOGIES 191 (2001); Glynos, supra
note 10; Özselçuk & Madra, Enjoyment as an Economic Factor, supra note 13; Özselçuk &
Madra, supra note 12; Yannis Stavrakakis, Symbolic Authority, Fantasmatic Enjoyment and the
Spirits of Capitalism: Genealogies of Mutual Engagement, in LACAN AND ORGANIZATION, supra
note 21, at 59.
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2410 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:6
pendence and fantasies dependence have in common, namely, the prom-
ise of a guarantee, or, to put it in other terms, the promise of subjective
suture. Whether rooted in the individual user, the state official, or the
medical professional, subjects can use these figures to flee the contin-
gency of social relations or, to put it another way, to flee the uncertainty
and ambiguities of interdependence.
This insight generates a different sort of question because it sug-
gests there might be another way to respond to ambiguity and uncertain-
ty. The worry motivating this thought is linked to the idea that the more
invested we are in the guarantee that fantasy conjures, the more suscep-
tible we become to what we could call the theft of enjoymenttempta-
tion. This temptation involves projecting the inherent impossibility
linked to subjectivity as suchthe idea of a split subjectivityonto an
external figure who is then treated as an obstacle to the realization of
our ideals: the inefficient or lazy public servant, or the greedy private
provider chasing after a fast buck, for example. One question this gen-
erates, then, is under what conditions might one move beyond market
fantasies of self-sufficiency and independence without falling into
equally problematic dependency fantasies of the State or Professional
qua Caring Others?79
In the case of market boundaries, perhaps we can approach this last
question by exploring modes of interdependence in various experi-
mental community economies, such as time banking, local exchange
trading systems, as well as other sorts of local currency and forms of
exchange. In a climate of spending cuts, it is not surprising that the idea
of coproduction, pioneered by Elinor Ostrom, is being revived and ac-
tively promoted in policy circles. But what the above analysis shows is
that it is not just the normative principles that are at stake when thinking
about the role and scope of markets in the provision of public services.
At stake also are the fantasies that underpin relevant practices and poli-
cy shifts.
If the phrase mediatized politics80 accurately signals the contem-
porary blurring of the mediatic and political aspects of news stories, it
79 The logics approach I have developed in collaboration with David Howarth can be under-
stood as a way of bringing into focus the critical potential of a Lacanian conception of fantasy by
situating fantasmatic logics in relation to what we call, following the work of Ernesto Laclau and
Chantal Mouffe, social and political logics. GLYNOS & HOWARTH, supra note 14. The claim, in
other words, is that appeal to social and political logics helps make clearer the normative, politi-
cal, and ethical implications of fantasy.
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becomes increasingly important to rethink the notion of normative and
ideological critique in a way that is sensitive to this terrain of common
sense construction. From the point of view of a critical political econo-
my, this means acknowledging the porous and overdetermined character
of the entire economic circuit, whether in existing economic processes
or in new experimental community economies. Each of the moments of
an economic circuit is heavily implicated in, its degrees of movement
and maneuver shaped by, the discourse of mediatized popular story
telling as well as more elite-level policy-making. I have argued that
there are good reasons to believe that a psychoanalytic perspective may
help contribute to the task of evaluating such developments at the ideo-
logical level, supplementing and complicating existing efforts to inter-
vene at explanatory and normative levels.
... As Dean (2008) points out, it is of course desire that sustains the fantasy of free trade: desire on the part of neoliberal advocates to see their policies function as intended; desire on the part of those excluded from neoliberalism's benefits to finally receive the material rewards dangled in front of them. De Vries (2007) identifies this latter function of desire in international development policy, wherein the masses excluded from the fruits of development may nevertheless sustain faith in development's potential due to their desire to receive the benefits (projects, public works, etc.) long promised by planners (see also Glynos 2012). It is this same desire, I suggest, that in part makes neoliberalism so resilient, so resistant to critique; rather than undermining the perspective, paradoxically, neoliberalism's thwarting of the jouissance it promises merely enhances its appeal by augmenting desire for the elusive fulfillment. ...
... It doesn't just line its pockets. It also appeals to gut feelings" (Thrift 2005, 1; see also Glynos 2012). Yet this may merely enhance one's ideological attachment by stimulating desire for further sensation in pursuit of a satisfaction constantly deferred (Fletcher and Neves 2012). ...
... In this, the culture/nature dualism and accompanying assumptions of either environmental determinism (over cultural activity) or a passive Nature as background to cultural dominion make way for "ethnoepistemologies" that challenge these modern ways of organizing what it is possible to know (Descola and Pálsson 1996a;Hornborg 2006). Key here are a plethora of possibilities in which humans are envisaged as sharing ontological social space with the beings that "Western human ontology" (see Glynos 2012) frames as "nonhuman." This seems entwined with a sense that what exists is brought into being through ongoing participation in relationship by all entities (Ingold 2006). ...
... Glynos's commentary, like Primrose's, also reads the problematic of theoretical humanism as a concept of ideology critique, but it positions late neoclassical economics in the broader field of diverse economic logics, a strategy of reading for difference that he has already begun to explore in his earlier work (see Glynos 2012). Glynos focuses on openings and lines of flight out of theoretical humanism, formulating three tracks. ...
... Late neoclassical vignettes of excessive enjoyment (e.g., models of the principalagent nexus; models of the prisoner's dilemma, populated by free riders; experiments with the ultimatum game; simulations with vengeful Homo reciprocans) as models of deviant or myopically rational subjects in search for stability is a defense against the trauma of difference. Glynos (2021) challenges us to read these late neoclassical models deconstructively, against themselves, for difference, for lines of flight. Rather than falling into the trap of addressing disavowal head on by speaking the truth of difference (that of the Real of class antagonism as it traverses the entire social formation), an oblique approach may be to work on suitable concepts strategically, opening them to difference from within. ...
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Despite the fact that psychoanalytical concepts are absent in Yahya M. Madra’s Late Neoclassical Economics, the three commentaries on the book, by Chakrabarti, Glynos, and Primrose, read the text in a certain psychoanalytical key, and for good reason. Their readings demonstrate that a number of unnamed psychoanalytical models silently informed the discourse analysis mobilized throughout the text. Reading late neoclassical economics as an internally differentiated field of defense formations against contradictions, antagonisms, and conflicts that arise from the constitutive destructuredness of the economy, this response essay by Yahya M. Madra explores the applicability of the key psychoanalytical concepts of negation (repression, foreclosure, disavowal) for a discourse analysis of economic models.
... Capitalocentrism defines our relationship with the economy to an extent that renders attempts to move beyond it very demanding for subjects. To grasp this, several diverse economy and other critical economy scholars have turned to psychoanalysis (Byrne & Healy, 2006;Glynos, 2012). Bringing psychoanalysis into discussions about the economy may seem counterintuitive at first. ...
Drawing on the literature of prefigurative politics, diverse economies and psychoanalysis, our chapter endeavours to highlight key aspects of new ethical practices in grassroots welfare provisioning. We are doing this by taking as a case study the Metropolitan Community Health Clinic at Helliniko, a social solidarity clinic that was set up at the peak of the economic crisis in Athens. Experiments like the Metropolitan Community Health Clinic at Helliniko and other Social and Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies that emerged within the crisis context, we argue, are attempts to expand democratic imagination and conceptions of social justice values in an area of key importance that was hit hard by the crisis, namely primary healthcare provision.These developments emerged in parallel and, at times, intersected with developments at the central political scene during an extended period in which the austerity agenda remained the main point of political confrontation. The struggles that emerged in that period revealed and challenged the function and reproduction of logics of neoliberal capitalism, including their expansion into the sphere of welfare and social care. As we will show, however, they were not simply defensive responses, nor did they merely redirect their demands to the realm of institutional politics. Rather, such initiatives have been productive of new forms of social life and organization, prefiguring in this way alternative institutions and relations in the present.
... Using the above perspectives, frameworks, and theoretical resources, Jason Glynos has produced several works on ideology and political discourse (GLYNOS, 2001a;2003a;2014b;VOUTYRAS, 2016), political economy (GLYNOS, 2012b;2014c;KLIMECKI;WILLMOT, 2012), workplace practices (GLYNOS, 2003b;2008a;2008b;2011b), health care policy (GLYNOS, 2014a;WEST, 2016;GLYNOS et al., 2014), media (CHANG;GLYNOS, 2011), education (GLYNOS;HOWARTH, 2018;LAPPING;, gender and sexuality (GLYNOS, 2000a;2000b;2012a). Glynos's works have significantly influenced the fields of educational and social research in Brazil, especially through the scholars and research groups that draw on poststructuralist discourse theory (MENDONÇA; PEIXOTO, 2008;MACEDO, 2011;. ...
Full-text available
Interview with Professor Jason Glynos, co-director of the Center for Ideology and Discourse Analysis (CIDA) at the University of Essex, UK, conducted by professors Joanildo Burity (FUNDAJ) and Gustavo Gilson Oliveira (UFPE). The interview explores the contours, the conceptual framework and the analytic strategies being developed in relation to the so-called Critical Fantasy Studies’ field, associated with his recent work. It seeks to investigate, above all, how these concepts and strategies have contributed and may further contribute to broadening our understanding and deepening our analysis of the spread of neoliberal logics and the emergence of “new” conservative logics in the contemporary social and political scene, particularly in the field of education.
... And so, by virtue of the recurrent neoliberal problematic of 'how to represent or stabilize uncertainty, without determining it through political dictat', civil justice as a set of strategies 'offer to solve this' 760 . 757 Glynos, 2012Glynos, , p.2405. We have, for instance, discussed this previously with regard to Equity's development of the law of fiduciaries, and it also obtains in the notion of protecting vulnerable parties via the doctrine of undue influence. ...
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This thesis argues that the law of Equity is a means to complete justice for stakeholders of capitalism with a desire for and need to believe in the certainty and perfectibility of the symbolic of capitalist reason and logic. By applying a Marxist Freudian reading I claim that stakeholder desire for and insistence on certainty and perfectibility within contexts of Anglo-American, Western, capitalist civil justice is both characteristic of subjugation to the reason and logic of capital, and symptomatic of the power of the unconscious and of fantasy on subjectivity within capitalism. Starting with an account of the Tudor jurist, statesman and Lord Chancellor Thomas More in the sixteenth-century, this thesis explores the long durée of Equity and civil justice, including analyses of the role a neurotic legal community has in defining conscience, discretion and flexibility within the principles, substance and procedures of civil justice upon which the stakeholder relies. Equity, therefore, provides a means for stakeholder’s to express their desire for what is missing, what they lack, in the symbolic, and the response to this desire is, I claim, the construction of an elaborate fantasy: Equity fetishism. As a theory of civil justice predicated on a conjunction of law, political economy and psychology, Equity fetishism explains Equity, as a body of jurisprudence, form of private law reasoning, and mode of adjudication, within domains of capitalist civil justice as being determined by fantasy and desire as it is defined by the normative discourses and processes of case-law, legislation and civil justice reform. As a structure in fantasy within civil justice Equity fetishism works in and through institutions such as private property and trusts in order to maintain stakeholder belief in the limitless possibilities of capital accumulation, which in turn maintains stakeholder disavowal of the realities of castration, subjective longing, loss, and limitation in the symbolic. Finally, this thesis aims to demonstrate that Equity fetishism is a vital consideration for critical and mainstream legal scholarship, as both a complementary and countervailing legal theory and discourse that is able to contribute to practical and theoretical legal thinking and education. Specifically, I argue, Equity fetishism accounts for and explains the influence of the vagaries of subjective psychic life on the development of institutions, concepts and practices in Equity and civil justice and, in particular, how these parallel and occur in harmony and agreement with capitalism.
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While theoretically grounded in a specific interpretation of Laclauian post-foundational discourse theory, this dissertation is intended as an immanent critique of this theory. More specifically, I tackle in it a silence which has pertained to political economy in Laclauian post-foundational discourse theory and argue that there is nothing in the theory itself meriting this silence. To this end, I develop what I term post-foundational political economy, and apply it for the study of political economy of higher education in three specific contexts: Finnish public higher education; the Plan S on academic Open Access publishing; and private higher education in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. By studying the contingent economic foundations of higher education through these distinct cases, I make two additional contributions to the field of world politics. Firstly, by articulating and putting to use my interpretation of Laclauian post-foundational political economy, I show how it provides a novel theoretical perspective for research in world politics, international/global political economy included. Secondly, with this dissertation as such I contribute to the nascent literature in world politics which deals with (the political economy of) higher education. The Introductory chapter dives into Laclauian post-foundational discourse theory, its ontology, and analytical concepts, and how these have informed my understanding of the political economy of higher education. It also situates Articles 1–4 with respect to this theory and each other. Here, I also briefly discuss the so-called methodological deficit of post-foundational discourse theory, reflect on my positionality as a researcher in the context of this dissertation, and situate post-foundational political economy with respect to two alternative approaches to critical political economy, that is, neo- Gramscian international political economy and cultural political economy. Finally, some concluding remarks on the dissertation are provided in the final section of the chapter. Article 1, co-authored with Teivo Teivainen, is a study of the ways in which specific argumentative strategies and assumptions regarding the economy have manifested themselves in debates concerning the status of the University of Helsinki as either a public or a private entity. It explores how privatizing reforms at the University of Helsinki have been premised on specific argumentative strategies, and specific articulations of “the economy” and “economic.” We show how the political nature of concepts like “private” and “privatization” lends them to different strategic uses, some of which are premised not only on how, but also when their meaning gets fixed. We also discuss transformations in the allocation of public funding for Finnish universities, and their possible implications for (internal) democratic decision-making concerning Finnish universities. Article 2, the first single-authored article, examines how political economy has featured in Laclauian post-foundational discourse theory and analysis, and how it can be theorized and studied from the perspective provided by this theory. I show how there is no justification, on its own terms, why Laclauian post-foundational discourse theory has discarded economic phenomena as an object of study. I conclude that economic phenomena can, and should, be analysed like any other social phenomena by this approach and argue that the concepts of economism and property rights name promising starting points for developing post-foundational political economy as a novel theoretical approach for analysing contemporary capitalist worlds in a critical fashion. Article 3, the second single-authored article, examines the economic foundations of academic publishing in the context of Plan S, an initiative to hegemonize regionally and even globally a specific form of Open Access as the default option for academic publishing. Here, I study competing articulations of Open Access by focusing on their implicit and explicit assumptions concerning different forms of property rights. I show how the dominant positions on Open Access serve to reproduce the existing unequal global structures of scientific knowledge production and conclude by noting that the Plan S is not as radical as it has been made out to be. On the contrary, the specific antagonism analysed in the article has arguably functioned to exclude other more radical forms of Open Access from the debate. Finally, Article 4, the third single-authored article, studies the political economy of higher education in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, focusing specifically on its capitalist private for-profit element, its connections to regional capital, and the implications these have for (internal) democratic decision- making in and on Jordanian private universities. Pace the theory of academic capitalism, I argue that Jordanian private universities should be analysed as capitalist corporate entities, and in doing so, raise the question of whether we even need a specific theory of academic capitalism to analyse capitalism in academia. Overall, this dissertation is put forth as a call for a more nuanced and contextual understanding of higher education’s economic foundations, and more specifically, the contingent nature of these foundations, their implications for higher education, and higher education itself.
This essay claims that intellectual property markets are not self-corrective. The discourse of self-corrective intellectual property markets is based upon a belief regarding the tendency of the market to automatically eliminate harmful consequences resulting from piracy, fraud, corruption, and conflict of interest among agents buying and selling music, movies, and journal articles. Following the critical-logics approach of discourse theory, this essay argues that intellectual property markets function according to certain logics: their social logics are grounded in the normalization of knowledge production and exchange, and their political logics deploy judicial mechanisms and sanctions against dislocatory moments such as copyright infringement. Meanwhile, their fantasmatic logics conceal the radical contingency of the given intellectual property regime, fueled by the academic desire for recognition via publishing in journals operated by for-profit companies. In exposing the logics of intellectual property markets, the essay suggests a counterhegemonic position supporting the ethics of open access and peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing.
This chapter discusses Equity fetishism in the contemporary neoliberal capitalist age. Between Judicature and the Senior Courts Act 1981, the role and place of Equity has often been restated in the civil justice system. Significant reform programmes in England and Wales have further shifted the onus of civil justice, I argue, towards an alignment of economic principles to Equity’s deontological imperative, or rather, vice versa. The chapter covers two key areas. First, the place of Equity and civil justice within neoliberal thought. Second, Equity fetishism and the emphasis placed on strategy and strategizing within neoliberal capitalism; the propensity for stakeholders to combine various social, political, moral, economic and legal options into strategies to support selfish interests.
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Post-foundational Discourse Theory (PFDT), initially developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, provides a systematic discursive perspective on political phenomena, the economy included. However, ever since Laclau and Mouffe rejected economism in their Hegemony and Social Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (HSS), the economy as an object of study has failed to receive the attention it deserves within this strand of ideology and discourse theory. Different approaches to political economy could also benefit from an explicit engagement with PFDT. I begin by outlining Laclau and Mouffe’s post- foundational perspective to the economy. I will then return to their discussion of economism in HSS and argue against its rejection in PFDT as an object of study. Finally, I will critically examine Mark Devenney’s attempt to reinstate property as an object of importance for political theory and analysis.
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Based on a study of prevention politics in Sweden, this article probes the turn to resilience in its institutionalized form: cross-sectorial partnerships. It interrogates how resilience proponents strategically deploy the semantics of the shift in policymaking, arguing that they perform the ‘shift’ (in mind-set) to criticize a long-established welfare-state governmentality, associated with professional ‘silos’, to create new possibilities for partnership-organized intervention. Part I draws attention to how resilience policy mobilizes partnerships around the indeterminate problem of ‘problem setting’. Based on the idea of limited knowledge and governance in an indeterminate world, failure is considered inevitable and potentially productive, if handled appropriately – which is an issue of problem design or framing. It is considered particularly important to handle problems of coordination and communication internal to partnerships, since failures here risk jeopardizing collaboration and hence the whole enterprise. Part II demonstrates how partnership-organized resilience initiatives bracket-off risky failure by strategically reframing problems and bringing new visions of the future into being – through the semantics of the shift. In characteristically epochal terms, the ‘shift’ casts partnership formation as an improvement of the future, although the strategists’ belief in future visions is apparently shot through with cynicism.
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This article evaluates critically the meta-narrative that a powerful, expansive, hegemonic and totalising market sphere is penetrating deeper into each and every corner of everyday life in the ‘advanced market economies’. Drawing theoretical inspiration from an emerging corpus of post structuralist thought that has begun to re-read the mean ing of work, this dom i nant dis course is here challenged by re-evaluating the nature and trajectories of work. This will reveal that the organisation of work is grounded in a plurality of economic practices of which market work represents only one segment. Nor is any evidence identified of a uni-dimensional and linear trajectory towards a hegemonic market. In the final section, therefore, it is shown to be now necessary to engage in a politics of re-representation of work in these so-called ‘market’ societies so as to open them up to re-signification.
In this essay I argue that commodity consumption is to the regime of political capitalism at the turn of this century what Michel Foucault claimed for discourses of sexuality in the bio-political state. If I am right, then understanding contemporary subjectivities requires granting greater political credence to practices of commodity consumption than they generally receive and a correlative paradigm shift in our notion of desire – from discourses of sexuality to erotics of appetite. But whatever ‘ethical substance’ we focus upon when we analyze our contemporary situation I think we must give greater consideration to practices of individual conduct. We must grant due attention to the uses to which our bodies, skills and resources are put, and to our active as well as passive participation in that usage, because our everyday conduct may be the missing link between our professed convictions and our actual political prospects.