The Invention of 'Choice': Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Markets, Democracy and Power

The Invention of 'Choice': Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Markets, Democracy and Power

Centre for Business History, Copenhagen Business School
Kilen Building
Vom - Bis
12.01.2012 - 13.01.2012
Stefan Schwarzkopf

The concept of “choice” is at the heart of much theorizing in marketing, micro-economics and consumer psychology today. The aim of the workshop is to problematize the notion of “choice” from various historical and theoretical perspectives. Rather than asking whether or not more (or less) choice per se is either good or bad for citizens and consumers – a perspective that dominates much of the discussion in marketing, consumer psychology, behavioural economics etc. – we want to use this workshop to exchange ideas about the historical, cultural and political circumstances that led to the reification of choice as a social policy aim in its own right. The workshop will bring together scholars from as wide a background as business and economic history, psychology, marketing, theology, and sociology to analyse when, why and how the mundane idea of “choice” became a political-economic concept with such an enormous power to mobilize people.


Thursday, 12 January 2012: Historical Perspectives

Kilen Building, Room 146

9.30 – 10 am: Welcome with Coffee & Tea

10 – 10.30am
Stefan Schwarzkopf (CBS): “Introducing the Workshop: Why do we need a ‘History of Choice’?”

10.30 – 12.30pm
Panel 1: From Adam Smith to the Interwar Years
Chair: Alfred Reckendrees (CBS)

Amos Witztum (London Metropolitan University/London School of Economics) “Choice, Liberalism and Markets: between Smith and Keynes”

Nicola Giocoli (University of Pisa)
“Consistent Choices: Homo Economicus becomes a Bayesian Statistician”

12.30 – 2pm: Lunch and Coffee

2 – 4pm
Panel 2: From the Interwar Years to Reagenomics
Chair: Per Hansen (CBS)

Will Davies (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford)
“Choice, Hayek and the Chicago Tradition”

Stefan Schwarzkopf (CBS)
“The Market Research Industry and the Invention of Consumer Choice, 1920-1980”

4 – 4.30pm: Coffee Break

4.30 – 5.30pm
Roundtable Discussion with Claes-Fredrik Helgesson (Linköping University): “Researching the Socio-material Set-up behind Choice Architectures Past and Present”

5.30 – 6.30pm
Wine Reception sponsored by CBS Business-in-Society Public-Private Platform (Kilen, 4th floor)

Friday, 13 January 2012: Theoretical Perspectives

Kilen Building, Ground Floor, Room Ks 54

9.30 - 10am: Welcome with Coffee & Tea

10am – 12noon
Panel 3: “Choice” and Choices in Contemporary Branding and Consumer Research Chair: TBC

Søren Askegaard (University of Southern Denmark, Odense)
“From Lifestyle-based Choices to Choice-based Lifestyles… and Back?”

Mads Mordhorst (CBS)
“Brands as Parasites – the Marketization of Choice in Contemporary Branding Regimes”

12 – 1pm: Lunch and Coffee

1 – 3pm
Panel 4: “Choice” in the Perspective of Game Theory, Theology and Psychoanalysis
Chair: Camilla Sløk (CBS)

S. M. Amadae (Ohio State University)
“Game Theory’s Philosophy of Value: can Choice be free when Money is used to measure all Value?”

Bent Meier Sørensen (CBS)
“The Right to Choose: ‘Wo Ich war soll Es werden’”

3 – 3.30pm: Coffee Break

3.30 – 4.30pm
Roundtable Discussion with Paul du Gay (CBS)
“‘Choice’ and Public Governance: Introducing CBS’ Business-in-Society Public-Private Platform”

4.30pm: End of Conference.

Conference Venue: Kilen Building, Kilenvej 14, DK-2000 Frederiksberg.
Nearest Metro: Fasanvej Station


Stefan Schwarzkopf

Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy
Copenhagen Business School
++45 3815 3652