IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Framing moral markets: The cultural legacy of social movements in an emerging market category


  • Schiller-Merkens, Simone


One challenge facing research on categories is to explain their content and the extent to which they gain meaning from cultural material that originates from moral arenas. This article suggests that categories are an outcome of strategic framing activities by which market members draw on prevalent master frames as cultural material to infuse an emerging market with meaning. It depicts the construction of a market category that emerges at the boundary between the economic sphere of a market and the moral sphere of social movements. A qualitative study of the use of movement master frames in categorizing the market for ethical fashion in the United Kingdom indicates the important role of movements' cultural legacy for the categorization of a moral market. It shows that the master frame of the environmental movement prevails in market categorization. Furthermore, we see that market members tend to adopt movement frames in categorization to discuss solutions rather than to talk about problems. Two propositions are drawn from these findings. First, when market making happens at the boundary of several social movements, market members adopt the master frame mainly of the movement whose activism has already led to changes in the political agenda, in social beliefs and practices in society. Second, framing tactics change when movement frames leave the moral sphere of activist mobilization and enter the economic sphere. While talking about problems has been shown to be as important as the provision of solutions in the movement arena, providing solutions becomes more important when movement frames are adopted in the economic arena of a market.

Suggested Citation

  • Schiller-Merkens, Simone, 2013. "Framing moral markets: The cultural legacy of social movements in an emerging market category," MPIfG Discussion Paper 13/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:138

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rodolphe Durand & Lionel Paolella, 2012. "Category Stretching: Reorienting Research on Categories in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organization Theory," Working Papers hal-02011439, HAL.
    2. N. Anand & Richard A. Peterson, 2000. "When Market Information Constitutes Fields: Sensemaking of Markets in the Commercial Music Industry," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 270-284, June.
    3. W. E. Douglas Creed & Maureen A. Scully & John R. Austin, 2002. "Clothes Make the Person? The Tailoring of Legitimating Accounts and the Social Construction of Identity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(5), pages 475-496, October.
    4. Beckert, Jens, 2007. "The social order of markets," MPIfG Discussion Paper 07/15, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:138. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.