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Moral Struggles in Markets: The Fight against Battery Cages and the Rise of Cage-Free Eggs in Switzerland

  • Philip Balsiger (a1)

Abstract

Practices within markets are widely regulated and sometimes contested on the basis of moral judgments. Moral entrepreneurs challenge markets and market practices while firms and industry actors defend them, leading to moral struggles opposing different orders of worth. Based on an historical case study, this paper develops a theoretical framework to study moral struggles in markets as social and political processes around commensurability. It identifies three core arenas in which moral struggles play out: ideas, where the morality of specific practices itself is contested and actors ground their moral claims in different institutional orders for legitimation; the economy, where the market viability of changing moral standards is at stake; and politics, where commensuration reflects political power struggles. Through a socio-historical analysis of the fight against battery cages in Swiss egg production in the 1970s and 1980s, the study fleshes out how this moral struggle played out along these dimensions, focusing on the competing discourses, strategies, and tactics of the main moral entrepreneurs and industry associations.

Les pratiques dans les marchés sont largement réglementées et parfois contestées sur la base de jugements moraux. Des entrepreneurs moraux remettent alors en cause des marchés et des pratiques marchandes tandis que des entreprises et des associations industrielles les défendent, ce qui résulte des luttes morales opposant différents ordres de grandeur. Sur la base d’une étude de cas historique, cet article développe un cadre théorique qui étudie les luttes morales dans les marchés en tant que processus sociaux et politiques autour de la commensurabilité. Il identifie trois arènes-clés dans lesquelles se jouent les luttes morales. L’arène des idées, où la moralité de certaines pratiques en tant que telles est contestée et les acteurs ancrent leurs jugements moraux dans différents ordres institutionnels afin de les légitimer ; l’économie, où l’enjeu est la viabilité marchande des standards moraux changeant ; et l’arène politique, où la commensuration reflète des luttes de pouvoir politique. À travers une analyse socio-historique du mouvement contre les batteries d’élevage dans la production des œufs en Suisse dans les années 1970 et 1980, cette étude décrit comment cette lutte morale se décline le long de ces dimensions, en focalisant sur les discours, stratégies et tactiques utilisés par les principaux entrepreneurs moraux et associations industrielles.

Marktpraktiken sind umfänglich reglementiert und manchmal umstritten aufgrund von moralischen Urteilen. Moral entrepreneurs fechten Märkte und Marktpraktiken an, während Firmen und Industrieverbände sie verteidigen. Dies führt zu moralischen Kämpfen wo sich unterschiedliche Wertordnungen gegenüber stehen. Basierend auf einer historischen Fallstudie wird in diesem Artikel ein theoretischer Ansatz entwickelt zur Untersuchung von moralischen Kämpfen in Märkten als soziale und politische Prozesse um die Frage der Kommensurabilität. Es werden drei Arenen identifiziert, wo die moralischen Kämpfe stattfinden. In der Arena der Ideen ist die Moralität der Praktiken an sich umkämpft, und Akteure verankern ihre moralischen Forderungen in unterschiedlichen institutionellen Ordnungen zur Legitimation. In der ökonomischen Arena der Märkte geht es um die “Marktakzeptanz” der sich verändernden moralischen Standards. In der politischen Arena schliesslich wird Kommensurabilität erreicht durch Regulation als Resultat von politischen Machtkämpfen. Eine sozio-historische Analyse des Kampfes gegen Batteriehaltung in der Schweizer Eierproduktion in den 1970er und 1980er Jahren verdeutlicht die Prozesse dieses moralischen Kampfes in jenen Arenen. Dabei werden die sich konkurrierenden Diskurse, Strategien und Taktiken der moral entrepreneurs und Industrieverbände in den Vordergrund gestellt.

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Moral Struggles in Markets: The Fight against Battery Cages and the Rise of Cage-Free Eggs in Switzerland

  • Philip Balsiger (a1)

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