The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, April 12, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with
Katherine Chen, Associate Professor, Sociology, City College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
“Bounded Relationality: How Governmental, Human Service, and Advocacy Organizations Create Consumers – and Elicit Relational Work – in the Social Insurance Market”
Abstract: Using observations of US advocacy, human service, and governmental organizations’ talks on social insurance, Professor Chen shows how market exchanges are facilitated by what she calls bounded relationality. This concept synthesizes (1) Simon’s bounded rationality, which describes how organizations ease people’s difficulties with decision-making and (2) Zelizer’s relational work, which emphasizes how social relations animate market exchanges. The studied organizations attempted to acculturate older adults and their agents – social workers, health care workers, advocates, and caregivers – to three consumer roles in the neoliberalized market: “information-gathering and processing consumers,” “savvy information-seekers,” and “watchful monitors.” However, discussions among audiences revealed disjunctures between these expected consumer roles and people’s actions, revealing people’s reliance upon relational work to ease complex decision-making. Professor Chen argues that markets depend upon bounded relationality in which organizations and social relations help people make complex exchanges.
We will meet in room 6107