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June 22, 2009


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for those who, like me, find the idea of listening to pod-cast lectures almost unbearable, the "other links" section of the bbc page includes a link to the transcript of each lecture. I've read only the first, introductory lecture, and while I have a bit of sympathy I didn't find it that persuasive. There's some discussion of the first lecture here:

I wonder, though, if it isn't a mistake to talk about the sorts of "exchanges" that go on in a healthy intimate relationship as "payments", as is done here. When I do something for my wife (the dishes, say), it certainly doesn't usually have any of the phemomenological feel of a "payment" or a market exchange, and I think it would show something seriously wrong with our relationship if it did. (Sometimes there are such exchanges- I'll do some extra shopping if she does my ironing, say, but that's unusual and feels like such.) Now, maybe you can say that we can formally treat these the same, regardless of how they seem to us, or that we're just deceiving ourselves, but I suspect that the first approach will obscure more than enlightens and the second isn't very plausible.

Kim Krawiec

Thanks so much for these links, and for your very thoughtful comments, Matt. I'm surprised that I missed the discussion over at Crooked Timber, which is one of my favorite blogs. In any event, I'm adding a link to the discussion there in the text of the post now. Your point on "payment" versus "exchange" is well taken, and I actually did not intend to imply that the various relationships or the forms of exchange that are typical within them are equivalent. Merely that when relationships or transactions that we consider substantively different have similarities, one of the (many) means by which we endeavor to distinguish them is through the form of "exchange" that operates in each (a "thank you" or kiss for mom for cooking dinner, but not to your co-worker -- presumably reciprocity is more appropriate -- or the restaurant owner, who obviously expects cash). A Fiske & Tetlock or Viviana Zelizer type of point, if you will. The choice of wording does reveal my priors, though, I suspect -- to me, "payment" is a normatively empty term and I realize it is not to many others. Perhaps simply "exchange terms" or "mode of exchange" would be clearer. In fact, I may edit that phrase in my paper, which is still in draft form. In which case, I owe you a double "thanks."

Miriam A. Cherry

Okay, started writing a comment (which got erased), but the essence of it was that this was a very interesting post and I'm not sure how I missed it the first time around (but thank you for linking to it again).
I'm particularly intrigued with the notion of information as commodified or free, specifically as it concerns prediction markets & the information that financial markets generate. I'm also interested in the categorization of gambling as "immoral" and investing as "moral" - the cultural factors you note (a la Fligstein).
I'll read your article with interst and look forward to seeing the volume when it comes out; it is possible to request a copy? I'm a prof at McGeorge but will be visiting at UGA in the fall.
Merci beaucoup, Miriam

Kim Krawiec

Hi Miriam -- you and I have a lot of interests in common then. The entire symposium volume, when it comes out, will be free online, so no need to request a hard copy, unless you just prefer hard copies to digital pdfs. I'm sending separately to your McGeorge account my syllabus for my "Taboo Trades & Forbidden Markets" course. We only spend a week on prediction markets, so I'm sure that there's nothing in that reading that you haven't seen before (Wolfers). But you might be interested to see how, for me at least, prediction markets fit within the spectrum of taboo trades. I'm also sending my syllabus for financial derivatives. A few readings at the beginning of the course deal with the struggle to fit futures markets into either the investment/moral box or the speculation/gambling/immoral box. The investment/moral characterization eventually won, but the fit continues to be an uneasy one sometimes. I'm looking forward to seeing your work on this in the future. Keep me in the loop! Kim

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