The Centre for the Study of Social & Cultural Complexity
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Book Launch with FRINGE

Economies of Favour after Socialism

Book Launch 

19 January  2017, 6:30-8pm
Institute of Advanced Studies, Common Ground, Wilkins Building, UCL, WC1E 6BT

Focusing on favours - and the paradoxes of action, meaning, and significance they engender - this book advocates for the addition of the favour to the list of economic universals alongside other fundamental anthropological categories of economic analysis such as barter, debt, and the gift. It argues that favours do not operate 'outside' or 'beyond' the economic sphere, but rather that they constitute a distinct mode of action which has economic consequences - without being fully explicable in terms of transactional cost-benefit analysis. This volume presents a critical re-interrogation of the conceptual relationships between gratuitous and instrumental behaviour, and raises novel questions about the intersection of economic actions with the ethical and expressive aspects of human life.

Scholars of post-socialist politics and society have often used 'favour' as a by-word for corruption and clientelism. The contributors to this volume treat favours, and the doing of favours, as a distinct mode of acting, rather than as a form of 'masked' economic exchange or simply an expression of goodwill. Casting their comparative net from post-socialist Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe; to the former Soviet Union, Mongolia, and post-Maoist China, the contributors to this volume show how gratuitous behaviour shapes a plethora of different actions, practices, and judgments across religious and political life, imaginative practices, and local moral economies. 

Click here for full list of the books contributors and contents.


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The FRINGE Centre explores the roles that complexity, ambivalence and immeasurability play in social and cultural phenomena. A cross-disciplinary initiative bringing together scholars from the humanities and social sciences, FRINGE examines how seemingly opposed notions such as centrality and marginality, clarity and ambiguity, can shift and converge when embedded in everyday practices. Our interest lies in the hidden complexity of all embedded practices, taken-for-granted and otherwise invisible subjects. Illuminating the 'fringe' thus puts the 'centre' in a new light.
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