Economic sociology

Economic sociology

Economic sociology is the sociological analysis of economic phenomena. As the earliest economists recognised, economic institutions are of profound importance to society as a whole and the social context affects the nature of local economic institutions.
Karl Marx argued that economic forces were absolutely central to society and deeply influenced its social structures. The founding figures of sociology, such as Max Weber, similarly regarded economic processes as fundamental to the structure of society. Georg Simmel, particularly in his book "Philosophy of Money", was important in the early development of economic sociology, as was Emile Durkheim through "Division of Labor". Other important early contributions to economic sociology were made by people who are more usually thought of as economists, e.g. Thorstein Veblen and Joseph Schumpeter.

Karl Polanyi, in his book "The Great Transformation", was the first theorist to come up with the idea of the "embeddedness", meaning that the economy is embedded in social institutions which is vital so that the market does not destroy other aspects of human life.

Later Marxist and other left-wing economic thought has focused on the social implications of consumerism and economic development within the system of economic relations that produce them.

Current economic sociology focuses particularly on the social consequences of economic exchanges, the social meanings they involve and the social interactions they facilitate or obstruct. Influential figures in modern economic sociology include Mark Granovetter, Harrison White, Paul DiMaggio, Joel M. Podolny, Richard Swedberg or Viviana Zelizer in the United States and Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, or Jens Beckert in Europe. To this may be added Amitai Etzioni, who has popularised the idea of socioeconomics, and Chuck Sabel and Wolfgang Streeck, who work in the tradition of political economy/sociology.

The focus on mathematical analysis and utility maximisation during the 20th century has led some to see economics as a discipline moving away from its roots in the social sciences. Many critiques of economics or economic policy begin from the accusation that abstract modelling is missing some key social phenomenon that needs to be addressed. In reply, many mainstream economists point out that such cultural and social arguments often seem to favour the interests of local monopolists and the already powerful.

Economic sociology is an attempt by sociologists to redefine in sociological terms questions traditionally addressed by economists. It is also an answer to attempts by economists (such as Gary Becker) to bring economic approaches - in particular utility maximisation and game theory - to the analysis of social situations that are not obviously related to production or trade.

See also

* Behavioral economics
* Institutionalism
* Institutional economics
* socioeconomics
* Important publications in economic sociology
* macroeconomics
* political economy


* Richard Swedberg (2008). "economic sociology." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. [ Abstract.]

External links

* [ The United economic encyclopedia]

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