Markets, cultures and the politics of value: the case of Assisted Reproductive Technology

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Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a global market engaging a variety of local moral economies where the construction of the demand–supply relationship takes different forms through the operation of the politics of value. This paper analyzes how the market–culture relationship works in different settings, showing how power and resources determine what value will, or will not, accrue from that relationship. A commodity’s potential economic value can only be realized through the operation of the market if its cultural status is seen to be legitimate. At the same time, local moral economies and their associated social orders are potentially susceptible to the destabilizing implications of new commodities. The formal or informal organization of power relationships in the market–culture interaction can enable potential value to become manifest and tangible over time or block its path. The interaction is steered through national institutional sources of cultural authority embedded in state and religion, where the visible contest in the politics of value is conducted. Increasingly, that interaction finds its expression in transnational institutions of governance where the struggle for control of the cultural agenda reflects the global nature of the ART market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalScience, Technology and Human Values
Issue number1
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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