Knowledge, markets and biotechnology

Social Epistemology 18 (4):301 – 314 (2004)
In this paper it is argued that the modern economy, as it transforms itself into a knowledge-based economy, loses much of the immunity from societal influences it once enjoyed, at least in advanced societies. This implies that the boundaries of the economy as a social system become more porous and fluid. Among the traffic that increasingly moves across the system-specific boundaries of the economy, from the opposite direction as it were, are cultural practices and beliefs that were heretofore perceived as alien to taken-for-granted conventions of economic conduct and the kinds of preferences immanent within the economic system. The enlargement of the economy is examined with reference to biotechnological products and processes. I will call these changes the "moralization" or "de-commercialization" of the production and consumption process. The moralization of the market and of production ultimately depends on the growing role of knowledge in economic affairs as well as the exceptional rise in affluence and, in its course, consumer sovereignty.
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