On 22 July 2020 Stephan Pühringer and Georg Wolfmayr presented the paper “Theorizing Competition. An interdisciplinary approach to the genesis of a contested concept” at the virtual Annual Conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE). In this paper), which is joint work with Carina Altreiter, Ana Rogojanu and Claudius Gräbner, we review interdisciplinary debates on the concept of competition since the professionalization of economics at the end of the 18th century. This paper is the result of our efforts to build a common base of further interdisciplinary research on competition within SPACE. From a history of ideas perspective we aim to we provide a precise analytical comparison between conceptions of competition from different disciplines like economics, sociology or anthropology.

This interdisciplinary comparison allows to examine how different conceptions of competition can be used to theorize the relations between an “economic realm” and a “socio-cultural realm” and, thus, to study competitization, i.e. the expansion of competitive modes of regulation in a comparative manner. In all, our paper shows that depending on the respective approaches to the relation between an economic and a social realm the judgement as well as the understanding of the process of competitization varies. A differentiated view on concepts of competition and the understandings of social life connected to it also enables a differentiated view on competitization as a multidimensional and multifaceted process.

Despite the circumstances and shortcomings of a fully online conference we enjoyed the vivid interdisciplinary atmosphere at SASE at are looking forward to hopefully meet again at SASE in Amsterdam in 2021.

This paper will be published shortly in our newly founded SPACE working paper series. See the presentation here.

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