Taboo Markets

This course is about taboo, stigmatized, or otherwise morally controversial markets. Examples include trade in alcohol and other drugs, sex work, gambling, baby-selling, paid domestic labor, care work, human blood, organs, eggs, sperm, genetic material, viaticals, and pollution rights. We will read empirical studies and ethical arguments about these markets, focusing mostly on how exchange in these goods is practically accomplished and morally justified in theory and practice. We will also consider broader questions about the scope and limits, if any, of the market as a social institution, and its relationship to other sorts of exchange.

Syllabus (PDF)


I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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