Sub-theme 64: Valuation and Critique in the “Good Economy”

Kristin Asdal
University of Oslo, Norway
Liliana Doganova
MINES ParisTech, France
Jean-Pascal Gond
City, University of London, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

In line with the theme of the 38th EGOS Colloquium theme on “The Beauty of Imperfection”, this sub-theme will investigate contemporary attempts at perfecting economic practices by bringing together the pursuit of profit with the pursuit of other forms of “goods”. We use the term “the good economy” to refer to a wide array of initiatives, discourses and models that aim at entangling the production of economic and social value(s) (Asdal et al., forthcoming; Doganova, 2015; Nicholls, 2009), and envisage markets as the relevant locus for addressing collective concerns and solving public problems (Frankel et al., 2019; Gond & Brès, 2020; Neyland et al., 2019). Under the motto of “doing well while doing good”, a striking variety of organizational and instrumental innovations has proliferated in the last decades: from corporate social responsibility to social entrepreneurship, impact investing and purpose-driven organizations; from shared value to environmental accounting and the triple bottom line; from clean-tech, environmental markets and conservation finance, to the bioeconomy and natural capital. Has our economy become a “good economy”? How do such shifts to “doing good” eventually happen, or how are they sought being realized? By which devices, valuation registers and competences do what is taken to be “goods” and “bads” change? And, how to relate to, critically discuss, and analyse these issues?
This sub-theme will bring together several lines of research, which are interested in the various facets and manifestations of the “good economy” but have remained scattered because of divergences in their empirical focus and their theoretical background. We aim at drawing links between studies focusing on the “social” and on the “environmental” turn of the economy. Moreover, we aim at creating a dialogue between studies examining how the economy is opening up to social and environmental issues in a move towards “responsibilization” and the “(re)socialization of markets”, and studies examining the “economization” (and, in a more critical vein, the “marketization”, “financialization” or “neoliberalization”) of society and nature (Birch, 2019; Çalışkan & Callon, 2009; Cooper et al., 2016; Shamir, 2008).
Finally, we want to bring in conversation two major approaches in the sociological and organizational analysis of valuation. On the one hand, the perspective of valuation studies has proposed an analytical shift from the problem of value to that of valuation as a social practice (Helgesson & Muniesa, 2013; Muniesa, 2011). It has shed light, in particular, on the role valuation tools and devices in the enactment of values in the economy (Asdal, 2015; Doganova & Muniesa, 2015; Reinertsen & Asdal, 2019). On the other hand, the economies of worth perspective has examined valuation practices as practices of justification that appeal to manifold, and sometimes conflicting, “orders of worth” (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006; Stark, 2009). It has proved particularly fruitful for analysing the discourses produced by economic organizations that engage with social or environmental issues such as sustainability (Demers & Gond, 2020; Patriotta et al., 2011). More recently, both perspectives have explored the emergence of new modes of valuation in contemporary capitalism (Boltanski & Esquerre, 2020; Lamont, 2012; Muniesa et al., 2017).
By crossing the empirical and theoretical divides between these lines of research concerned with the making and the effects of the good economy, we aim at generating new research questions. A crucial question, which resonates with the theme of the EGOS Colloquium 2022, relates to the possibility of critique. What if there was a danger to perfecting valuations by blending economic value with other forms of value deemed inherently good: the danger of disarming critique? What if “the beauty of imperfection” was to be found in its value-fragility, and the ways in which it affords critique? Have organizations succumbed to the perfection imperative, like individual have done to “wellbeing” (Cederström & Spicer, 2015; Davies, 2011)? Could attempts at perfecting the valuation tools, devices and discourses of the good economy run counter the imperfections of controversy and public debate? We welcome empirical papers grounded in various theoretical perspectives and addressing this and other challenging questions related the good economy and its impact on organizations and the social and natural environments in which they are embedded.


  • Asdal, K. (2015): “What is the issue? The transformative capacity of documents.” Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 16 (1), 74–90.
  • Asdal, K., et al. (forthcoming): “‘The Good Economy’: A conceptual and empirical move for investigating the bioeconomy and how economies and versions of the good are entangled.” BioSocieties.
  • Birch, K. (2019): Neoliberal Bio-Economies? The Co-construction of Markets and Natures. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Boltanski, L., & Esquerre, A. (2020): Enrichment: A Critique of Commodities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Boltanski, L., & Thévenot, L. (2006): On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Çalışkan, K., & Callon, M. (2009): “Economization, Part 1: Shifting attention from the economy towards processes of economization.” Economy and Society, 38 (3), 369–398.
  • Cederström, C., & Spicer, A. (2015): The Wellness Syndrome. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Cooper, C., Graham, C., & Himick, D. (2016): “Social impact bonds: The securitization of the homeless.” Accounting, Organizations and Society, 55, 63–82.
  • Davies, W. (2011): “The Political Economy of Unhappiness.” New Left Review, 71, 65–80.
  • Demers, C., & Gond, J.-P. (2020): “The Moral Microfoundations of Institutional Complexity: Sustainability implementation as compromise-making at an oil sands company.” Organization Studies, 41 (4), 563–586.
  • Doganova, L. (2015): “Clean and profitable: Entangling valuations in environmental entrepreneurship.” In: A.B. Antal, H. Hutter, & D. Stark (eds.): Moments of Valuation: Exploring Sites of Dissonance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Doganova, L., & Muniesa, F. (2015): “Capitalization devices: Business models and the renewal of markets.” In: M. Kornberger, L. Justesen, A. Koed Madsen, & J. Mouritsen (eds.): Making Things Valuable. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 109–125.
  • Frankel, C., Ossandón, J., & Pallesen, T. (2019): “The organization of markets for collective concerns and their failures.” Economy and Society, 48 (2), 153–174.
  • Gond, J.-P., & Brès, L. (2020): “Designing the Tools of the Trade: How corporate social responsibility consultants and their tool-based practices created market shifts.” Organization Studies, 41 (5), 703–726.
  • Helgesson, C.-F., & Muniesa, F. (2013): “For What It’s Worth: An Introduction to Valuation Studies.” Valuation Studies, 1 (1), 1–10.
  • Lamont, M. (2012): “Toward a comparative sociology of valuation and evaluation.” Annual Review of Sociology, 38 (21), 201–221.
  • Muniesa, F. (2011): “A flank movement in the understanding of valuation.” The Sociological Review, 59 (s2), 24–38.
  • Muniesa, F., Doganova, L., Ortiz, H., Pina-Stranger, A., Paterson, F., Bourgoin, A., Ehrenstein, V., Juven, P.-A., Pontille, D., Saraç-Lesavre, B., & Yon, G. (2017): Capitalization: A Cultural Guide. Paris: Presses des Mines.
  • Neyland, D., Ehrenstein, V., & Milyaeva, S. (2019): Can Markets Solve Problems? An Empirical Inquiry into Neoliberalism in Action. London: Goldsmiths Press.
  • Nicholls, A. (2009): “‘We do good things, don’t we?’: ‘Blended Value Accounting’ in social entrepreneurship.” Accounting, Organizations and Society, 34 (6), 755–769.
  • Patriotta, G., Gond, J.-P., & Schultz, F. (2011): “Maintaining Legitimacy: Controversies, Orders of Worth, and Public Justifications.” Journal of Management Studies, 48 (8), 1804–1836.
  • Reinertsen, H., & Asdal, K. (2019): “Calculating the blue economy: Producing trust in numbers with business tools and reflexive objectivity.” Journal of Cultural Economy, 12 (6), 552–570.
  • Shamir, R. (2008): “The age of responsibilization: On market-embedded morality.” Economy and Society, 37 (1), 1–19.
  • Stark, D. (2009): The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kristin Asdal is Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at TIK Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research investigates the relations between environmental issues and the economy, focusing in particular on how such issues are handled and play out within politics and administration. Kristin’s research has been published in key journals across the humanities and social sciences, including ‘History and Theory’, ‘Accounting Organizations and Society’, ‘British Journal of Sociology’, ‘Environment and Planning A’, and ‘Social Studies of Science’.
Liliana Doganova is Associate Professor at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation (CSI) at MINES ParisTech, Fance. At the intersection of economic sociology and Science and Technology Studies, her research explores valuation practices and devices in a variety of settings. Liliana has worked on business models, the valorization of public research, and markets for bio- and clean-technologies. She has published in journals such as ‘Research Policy’, ‘Science and Public Policy’, ‘Journal of Cultural Economy’, and ‘Economy and Society’.
Jean-Pascal Gond is Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Bayes Business School of City, University of London, United Kingdom. His research investigates the social construction of CSR and the performativity of management theories and has been published in outlets such as ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’, ‘Business and Society’, ‘Economy and Society’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, as well as ‘Journal of Organizational Behavior’.