Allied Social Science Association Annual Meeting
Atlanta, GA: January 3-6, 2019 

THEME: “Beyond the Machine: Economies as Social Institutions


Many economists rely heavily on a machine metaphor when seeking to describe and analyze market-using or capitalist economies. These economic systems are said to be characterized by various principles (e.g., self-interest and profit maximization) and be driven by laws or mandates (e.g., a growth imperative or the “laws of capitalism”). With their fundamental behavior thus attributed to physics-like forces, it would seem that social relationships, historical developments, and the influence of human consciousness and values might be mere epiphenomena, rather irrelevant in light of the system’s presumed universal essence. A human life of meaning and ethical significance, some claim, is only possible elsewhere—either in a separate social sphere assiduously protected from commodification, or perhaps only within economic systems or organizations built on completely different principles. The Association for Social Economics, however, welcomes scholars who “regard human behavior to be the result of complex social interactions with ethical consequences.”[1] What if our economies are not something outside our social world, but are actually the outcomes of our “complex social actions” as we deal, over the decades and every day, with our values, beliefs, ethics, and problems?

For the ASE sessions at the 2019 ASSA meetings, we welcome proposals for papers/sessions on all aspects of social economics, but preference will be given to papers that explore the implications of questioning presumed mechanical “essences” and instead locating economies thoroughly within the realm of social life. Possible questions include but are not limited to:

  • Corporations, families, inequality, and innovation are often described and analyzed in mechanistic terms. What insights do we gain by taking their social nature more seriously?
  • While “capitalism” is often described in terms meant to apply universally, what can we learn from the observation of real-world capitalisms?
  • Reflecting back on the narrowly mechanistic approaches, have they had damaging effects? What—in historical, psychological, or political terms—might explain their continued influence?
  • As social institutions, economies also reflect the ethical, religious, and spiritual dimensions of the humans who constitute them. How is this important?
  • What sorts of methodologies are appropriate for studying economies as social creations? Could other schools of economics and other disciplines enrich how social economists analyze power, norms, institutions, care, and uncertainty?
  • In addition to being socially embedded, economies are also embedded in our natural environment. How should this this affect the practice of social economics?

Proposals for papers as well as complete sessions are welcome.The submission deadline was May 1, 2018. 

Individuals whose papers are accepted for presentation must either be or become members of the Association for Social Economics by July 1, 2018 in order for the paper to be included in the program.  Membership information can be found at All papers presented at the ASSA meetings are eligible for the Warren Samuels Prize, awarded to the best paper that advances the goals of social economics and has widespread appeal. Papers can also be considered for a special issue of one of the association’s journals, or for edited volumes.

Note: Due to limited session slots, we may not be able to accept all submissions. Any paper that cannot be incorporated into the ASE program will be automatically considered for the ASE portion of the ICAPE conference, January 3, 2019, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, GA. See for details.

Please send an email to Julie Nelson at Email Hidden with any questions.