Communication and Culture | Current Topics in Communication and Culture (Topic: Rhetorics of the Market)
C334 | 13116 | Kaplan, M.

MW, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 100

Instructor: Michael Kaplan
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 219
Phone: 856-1365

Something called “the market economy” has been much in the news of
late, with political leaders and media observers debating the merits
of “free markets” and “market regulation.” Such debates have a long
history, but is it always clear what we are talking about when we
invoke “the market”? Does it make a difference whether we think of
it as An invisible hand, A mechanism, A calculating device, A
structure, A race, A battle, A natural phenomenon, A myth, A
competition, or A game?

Each of these metaphors has far-reaching implications about how
markets work or falter, about the tasks they are suited to handle
and effects they are expected to produce, and about the role people
and policies play in relation to them. Yet none of these metaphors
reveals an ultimate truth about what markets “really” are. In this
course, we will investigate the hypothesis that the ways markets are
imagined in public discourse have profound consequences for how they
do or do not function in the conduct of social life. The very use of
the term “market” makes possible the relationships and activities to
which it seems to refer, and the precise meaning of this term is
both variable and endlessly contested by political forces of all
kinds. By examining the rhetoric of both theoretical and popular
accounts of the market economy, we will observe how “the market” is
variously imagined and attempt to understand how such variations
modify the very reality of “the market” and its social and political