Brent Kaup - "Embedding the Ecological: Markets, Nature, and Society in Bolivia’s Counter-Neoliberal Turn"
from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Economic sociologists have often drawn upon theories of embeddedness to explain the different ways legal, political, and cultural frameworks shape markets. Often overlooked, however, is how the materiality of nature also structures markets. In this talk, I forward a theory of embeddedness that more closely accounts for the economic, the social, and the ecological. Examining the case of socioeconomic organization and change in Bolivia since the 1980s, I explore how the materiality of nature shapes the markets for labor and raw materials in two economic sectors—hydrocarbons and minerals—during the country’s neoliberal and counter-neoliberal shifts. I argue that, while both sectors were subject to similar processes of neoliberalization, the materiality of the natural resources and the type of labor required to extract them created divergent paths of counter-neoliberalization. In theorizing economic shifts, scholars should thus seek to understand not only changing property rights, regulations, and institutional forms, but also the intimate relationships between commodities and their creators.