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Trade Fairs, Markets and Fields - Framing Imagined Communities

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This working paper takes as its starting point the work of the German economic sociologist, Jens Beckert, and his call for empirical investigations into how intentionally rational actors reach decisions under conditions when they do not know what is best to do. It describes how trade fairs act as a framing mechanism that enables participants to come together for the exchange of goods and services and to perceive themselves as acting in a social field. Fairs frame the contacts people make and sustain as networks; the institutional rules and social norms guiding their behaviour there; and the values and cognitive frames that they bring to bear and negotiate with other participants. They make actors aware of a ‘mutual correspondence’ in their interpretation of the goods in which they deal and of the social situations in which engage for the sake of such trade. Trade fairs both configure fields and make markets possible.

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Brian Moeran

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