For almost twenty years, the 'Free Market' has been a central feature of public debate in the West, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. In the name of the Market and its supposed benefits, governments and international agencies have imposed massive changes on peoples' lives.Curiously, scholars have paid little attention to the ways that the idea of the Market is invoked, to what it might mean and how it is being used. This book helps correct that state of affairs. Focusing on the United States, where the Market model is strongest, authors analyze portrayals of the Market, its values and the people within it, as a way of teasing out its assumptions and contradictions. They also describe extensions and practical applications of the Market model in policy-making in the United States and in explaining how firms work, show its political strengths and conceptual limitations.In bringing rigor and sustained critical analysis to a topic of growing global significance, this truly interdisciplinary study represents a coherent and incisive contribution to anthropology, sociology, politics, history and economics, as it challenges these disciplines to come to grips with one of the most potent cultural symbols of postmodernity.