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 MPIfG Podcasts



Patrik Aspers
Reducing Uncertainty


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The talk addresses the question of how uncertainty can be reduced. Uncertainty is a central question in economics and sociology, and it is in play in situations in which we cannot predict the outcomes of actions. The talk offers accounts of ways in which uncertainty can be reduced. Uncertainty can be reduced by taken-for-granted institutions, formal rules (formal institutions), and evaluations that are based on “objective” scales. In many cases institutionalization, formal rules, and objective evaluations are not in place, and even more importantly, are unlikely to ever be put into place. When uncertainty refers to states which are not institutionalized and which cannot be reduced to facts, formal rules, scientific “laws,” or standards, judgments are needed. The talk will present forms that produce judgments which reduce uncertainty. These forms reduce uncertainty, for example, in the areas of sports, the economy, and the arts.
Patrik Aspers is Professor in the Department of Sociology at Uppsala University. He is currently on sabbatical leave at the Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung in Bielefeld. Aspers is working on the interrelated questions of uncertainty and order.
Selected publications
  • Ahrne, Göran, Patrik Aspers, and Nils Brunsson. 2015. "The Organization of Markets." Organization 36, 7-27.
  • Aspers, Patrik, 2018. "Forms of Uncertainty Reduction: Decision, Valuation, and Contest." Theory and Society 47, 133-149.
  • Aspers, Patrik, and Frédéric Godart. 2013. "Sociology of Fashion: Order and Change." Annual Review of Sociology 39, 171-192.
  • Aspers, Patrik. 2011. Markets. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Aspers, Patrik. 2010. "Using Design for Upgrading in the Fashion Industry." Journal of Economic Geography 10, 189–207.
  • Aspers, Patrik. 2010. Orderly Fashion:A Sociology of Markets. Princeton University Press.
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