Economic Imaginaries Across the Public Sphere: an empirical exploration into economic understandings and representations across four sites in the UK

Mosse, Jack. 2018. Economic Imaginaries Across the Public Sphere: an empirical exploration into economic understandings and representations across four sites in the UK. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This study explores how people understand and represent the economy in different spaces across society. It draws on over 120 semi-structured interviews as well as participant observation across four sites: the civil service, the financial sector, the financial press, and one of the UK’s largest housing estates. The multi-sited empirical study builds on and contributes to two bodies of literature. First, through looking at the representations and understandings of the economy across a number of sites it explores how the economy is anchored in different registers of meaning across society. This brings the notion of the economy into the same theoretical framework that has been used to theorise the fragmentation of the public sphere, which has mainly focussed on political, cultural and media fragmentation, but ignored the economy. The second intervention comes in the field of economic sociology. The multi-sited framework allows for an investigation into different forms of agency in socioeconomic praxis. The sites are explored as both internal localised networks of interaction and as spaces situated within broader societal relationships of power. The findings and the argument constructed emphasise the importance of broader structural relationships. In doing so they contribute towards undermining the influential recent trend inspired by Michel Callon's notion of economic performativity, and the localised networked conception of agency at its core. Beyond these theoretical contributions, the thesis also provides a snapshot of contemporary society in the UK. The elite institutional sites looked at are found to generate a self-serving abstract economic discourse grounded in the politics of knowledge representation. This elite economic discourse does not resonate at spaces on the periphery of the public sphere, and in the lack of rational pluralised discourse on the economy many people turn to explanatory frameworks that harness an anti-elite sentiment and appear to fit with their immediate lifeworlds. The result is a fragmented economic imaginary across society that holds little hope of bringing much needed positive economic change.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00024024

Keywords:

Economic Imaginary, Performativity, Economic Language, Callon, Public Sphere, Economic Discourse, Financialization, Civil Service, Financial Press, City of London, Economic Sociology, Economic Anthropology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Date:

30 June 2018

Item ID:

24024

Date Deposited:

14 Aug 2018 10:14

Last Modified:

30 Apr 2020 17:32

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/24024

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