CFP: The History and Future of the Moral Economy

Where: University of Manchester

When: 3-4 June 2020

Deadline for proposals: 6 March 2020

This conference will explore, analyse, and debate the ways in which morality and ideas of social and economic progress have been entwined in the past and resonate today. Morality and its relationship to economic behaviour has long fascinated historians and social scientists, as evidenced in works of classical political economy through to the study of social movements and political activism. The history of capitalism, development, and environmental change possesses an ethical dimension that is evident from the medieval period through to the present by way of the planned economy, the emergence of neoliberalism, and in current debates about a Green New Deal. But how has morality been central to the way in which people have understood their relationship to wider social change in the past and does this still matter today?

Papers will range from the medieval period to the present day and will cover a wide range of topics drawn from a variety of geographical case-studies. Questions addressed by the conference will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How do debates around private and common ownership draw on a framework of moral principles?
  • How has everyday economic life been shaped by, and in turn shaped, moral discourses?
  • To what extent have past efforts aimed at promoting environmental justice, tackling inequalities, and ensuring intergenerational responsibility relied on appeals to moral sensibility? And how successful have these claims been?
  • In what ways do debt, credit, and money create particular varieties of moralised subjects?
  • How have social movements and campaigns been animated by concepts of economic justice?
  • What values, ideas, and institutions shape the economic behaviour of individuals and groups?
  • Do different religious cultures lead to diverse social and economic outcomes?
  • How has capitalism been presented as a moral project in the past and present?
  • To what extent do policymakers utilise the concept of morality in their work?

The organisers invite proposals from scholars working across the humanities and social sciences and from people who work in the area of social and economic policy. We particularly welcome contributions from PhD scholars and early career academics. Papers will last for twenty minutes and organisers also welcome proposals for thematic sessions of three papers.

Paper abstracts should be sent with a short abstract (250 words max.) and a brief CV (2 pages max.) to

A keynote lecture will be delivered by Professor Aidan Regan who leads the New Political Economy of Europe project at UCD.

The conference is generously supported by the Economic History Society and the Manchester Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence.


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