May, 2017

Narrating the Market Process

How Stories Can Promote the Economic Way of Thinking
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We have a wealth of documentation on how we have come to understand the market as a process, but if this is such a basic part of understanding the economy, where is the account meant for everyone else? What does an account of the market process for the masses look like? Unlike some forms of specialized knowledge, economics has its greatest impact when it becomes part of public knowledge. Fostering greater public understanding of the market as a process requres multidisciplinary collaboration that draws from cultural studies. In particular, I argue that stories, as one of the most common formal structires of linguistic meaning at the pragmatic level, are an essential tool for communicating economic ideas. In fact, there is a strong parallel between how we are describing the market process and the ways narrative works. The market, understood as a social system that coordinates dispersed knowledge through a series of discoveries, sounds very much like the process of narration that selects, filters, orders, and arranges events that the reader experiences as a series of discoveries. In order to understand how stories can be effective tools of teawching and communicating economic ideas, I seek to identify formal similarities between narrative and the market process by analyzing Cameron Hawley's 1955 business novel, Cash McCallBecause people understand the world they live in through stories, we need to understand how such stories can be used to narrate the market process.