Markets have been central to economic thinking since the seminal work of Adam Smith.

However, the significance and meaning of markets is much disputed. Between the formal, orthodox understanding of markets as 'equilibria' and diverse heterdox understandings, the very concept of a market remains open to philosophical enquiry.

Rather than seek a single account of 'the market', one might instead understand markets as constituting certain forms of social, and psychological, relations between market players, as they are constituted by those players. A market may thus be understood as a complex of practices having no final, formal definition.

However, the concept of a market may also be applied to illuminate many processes of communication and exchange.