Economic sociology

Economic sociology

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Economic sociology studies both the social effects and the social causes of various economic phenomena. The field can be broadly divided into a classical period and a contemporary one. The classical period was concerned particularly with modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 and its constituent aspects (rationalisation, secularisation, urbanisation, social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

, and so on). As sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 arose primarily as a reaction to capitalist modernity, economics plays a role in much classic sociological enquiry. The specific term "economic sociology" was first coined by William Stanley Jevons
William Stanley Jevons
William Stanley Jevons was a British economist and logician.Irving Fisher described his book The Theory of Political Economy as beginning the mathematical method in economics. It made the case that economics as a science concerned with quantities is necessarily mathematical...

 in 1879, later to be used in the works of Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

, Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 and Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel was a major German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?',...

 between 1890 and 1920. Weber's work regarding the relationship between economics and religion
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by Talcott Parsons in 1930...

 and the cultural "disenchantment
Rationalization (sociology)
Rationalization is a term used in sociology to refer to a process in which an increasing number of social actions become based on considerations of teleological efficiency or calculation rather than on motivations derived from morality, emotion, custom, or tradition...

" of the modern West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 is perhaps most iconic of the approach set forth in the classic period of economic sociology.

The contemporary period of economic sociology, also known as new economic sociology, was consolidated by the 1985 work of Mark Granovetter
Mark Granovetter
Professor Mark Granovetter is an American sociologist at Stanford University who has created theories in modern sociology since the 1970s. He is best known for his work in social network theory and in economic sociology, particularly his theory on the spread of information in social networks known...

 titled "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". This work elaborated the concept of embeddedness
Embeddedness
Embeddedness is the degree to which individuals or firms are enmeshed in a social network. The concept was introduced by sociologist Mark Granovetter; the term embeddedness involves the overlap between social & economic ties within and between organizations .The term embeddedness makes reference...

, which states that economic relations between individuals or firms take place within existing social relations (and are thus structured by these relations as well as the greater social structures of which those relations are a part). Social network analysis
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 has been the primary methodology for studying this phenomenon. Granovetter's theory of the strength of weak ties and Ronald Burt's concept of structural holes are two best known theoretical contributions of this field.

Classical economic sociology


Economic sociology arose as a new approach to the analysis of economic phenomena; emphasising particularly the role economic structures and institutions play upon society, and the influence a society holds over the nature of economic structures and institutions. The relationship between capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 is a salient issue, perhaps best demonstrated in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by Talcott Parsons in 1930...

(1905) and Simmel's The Philosophy of Money
The Philosophy of Money
The Philosophy of Money is a book on economic sociology by the German sociologist and social philosopher, Georg Simmel.-Contents:Probably considered Simmel's greatest work...

(1900). Economic sociology may be said to have begun with Tocqueville's Democracy in America
Democracy in America
De la démocratie en Amérique is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville. A "literal" translation of its title is Of Democracy in America, but the usual translation of the title is simply Democracy in America...

(1835–40) and The Old Regime and the Revolution
The Old Regime and the Revolution
L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution is a work by the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville translated in English as either The Old Regime and the Revolution or The Old Regime and the French Revolution...

(1856). Marx's historical materialism
Historical materialism
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx as "the materialist conception of history". Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans...

 would attempt to demonstrate how economic forces influence the structure of society on a fundamental level. Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

's The Division of Labour in Society
The Division of Labour in Society
The Division of Labor in Society is the dissertation of French sociologist Émile Durkheim, written in 1893. It was influential in advancing sociological theories and thought, with ideas which in turn were influenced by Auguste Comte...

was published in 1922, whilst Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

's Economy and Society
Economy and Society
Economy and Society is a book by political economist and sociologist Max Weber, published posthumously in Germany in 1922 by his wife Marianne. Alongside The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, it is considered to be one of Weber's most important works...

was released in the same year.

New economic sociology


Contemporary 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 Fred L. Block
Fred L. Block
Fred L. Block is an American sociologist, and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. Block is widely regarded as one the world’s leading economic and political sociologists...

, James S. Coleman, Mark Granovetter
Mark Granovetter
Professor Mark Granovetter is an American sociologist at Stanford University who has created theories in modern sociology since the 1970s. He is best known for his work in social network theory and in economic sociology, particularly his theory on the spread of information in social networks known...

, Harrison White
Harrison White
Harrison Colyar White is the emeritus Giddings Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. White is an influential scholar in the domain of social networks. He is credited with the development of a number of mathematical models of social structure including vacancy chains and blockmodels...

, Paul DiMaggio
Paul DiMaggio
Paul Joseph DiMaggio is an American educator, and professor of sociology at Princeton University since 1992.-Career:...

, Joel M. Podolny
Joel M. Podolny
Joel M. Podolny is an American sociologist and is the former Dean of the Yale School of Management. On November 1, 2008, Podolny stepped down as dean to be replaced by Sharon Oster, and in early 2009 assumed the position of Senior Vice President of Human Resources, and Dean of Apple Inc.'s new...

, Richard Swedberg
Richard Swedberg
Richard Swedberg is a Swedish sociologist at Cornell University. Swedberg has been a contributor to developing a sociological approach to the analysis of the economy....

 and Viviana Zelizer
Viviana Zelizer
Viviana A. Zelizer, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, is a prominent economic sociologist who focuses on the attribution of cultural and moral meaning to the economy. A constant theme in her work is economic valuation of the sacred, as found in such contexts as life insurance...

 in the United States, as well as Luc Boltanski
Luc Boltanski
Luc Boltanski is the leading figure in the new "pragmatic" school of French sociology. He is a professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and the founder of the Groupe de Sociologie Politique et Morale....

, Laurent Thévenot
Laurent Thévenot
Professor Laurent Thévenot is Directeur d'études at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris , and Senior researcher at the Centre d'Etudes de l'Emploi.He co-authored, with Luc Boltanski, of "On Justification...

, or Jens Beckert in Europe. To this may be added Amitai Etzioni
Amitai Etzioni
Amitai Etzioni is a German-Israeli-American sociologist.-Biography:In 1933, Amitai Etzioni was only four years old when the Nazis rose to power in Germany. He was separated from his family but reunited with them by the year 1947...

, who has popularised the idea of socioeconomics
Socioeconomics
Socioeconomics or socio-economics or social economics is an umbrella term with different usages. 'Social economics' may refer broadly to the "use of economics in the study of society." More narrowly, contemporary practice considers behavioral interactions of individuals and groups through social...

, and Chuck Sabel, Wolfgang Streeck and Michael Mousseau
Michael Mousseau
Michael J. Mousseau is an American political scientist whose research and teaching is focused on international relations and comparative politics, in particular the link between economic conditions, institutions, and conflict...

 who work in the tradition of political economy/sociology.

The focus on mathematical analysis and utility maximisation
Utility
In economics, utility is a measure of customer satisfaction, referring to the total satisfaction received by a consumer from consuming a good or service....

 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.

Economic sociology is an attempt by sociologists to redefine in sociological terms questions traditionally addressed by economists. It is thus also an answer to attempts by economists (such as Gary Becker
Gary Becker
Gary Stanley Becker is an American economist. He is a professor of economics, sociology at the University of Chicago and a professor at the Booth School of Business. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992, and received the United States' Presidential Medal of Freedom...

) to bring economic approaches - in particular utility maximisation and game theory
Game theory
Game theory is a mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances, such as in games, where a person’s success is based upon the choices of others...

 - to the analysis of social situations that are not obviously related to production or trade. Karl Polanyi
Karl Polanyi
Karl Paul Polanyi was a Hungarian philosopher, political economist and economic anthropologist known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and his book The Great Transformation...

, 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.

Marxist sociology



Modern Marxist thought has focused on the social implications of capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 (or "commodity fetishism
Commodity fetishism
In Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism denotes the mystification of human relations said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by and transformed into, objectified relationships between things .The...

") and economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 within the system of economic relations that produce them. Important theorists include Georg Lukács
Georg Lukács
György Lukács was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic. He is a founder of the tradition of Western Marxism. He contributed the concept of reification to Marxist philosophy and theory and expanded Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. Lukács' was also an influential literary...

, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer was a German-Jewish philosopher-sociologist, famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the 'Frankfurt School' of social research. His most important works include The Eclipse of Reason and, in collaboration with Theodor Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment...

, Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

, Guy Debord
Guy Debord
Guy Ernest Debord was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, member of the Letterist International, founder of a Letterist faction, and founding member of the Situationist International . He was also briefly a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.-Early Life:Guy Debord was born in Paris in 1931...

, Louis Althusser
Louis Althusser
Louis Pierre Althusser was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy....

, Nicos Poulantzas
Nicos Poulantzas
Nicos Poulantzas was a Greek Marxist political sociologist. In the 1970s, Poulantzas was known, along with Louis Althusser, as a leading Structural Marxist and, while at first a Leninist, eventually became a proponent of eurocommunism. He is most well known for his theoretical work on the state...

, Ralph Miliband
Ralph Miliband
Ralph Miliband , born Adolphe Miliband, was a Belgian-born British sociologist known as a prominent Marxist thinker...

, Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

, Raymond Williams
Raymond Williams
Raymond Henry Williams was a Welsh academic, novelist and critic. He was an influential figure within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the mass media and literature are a significant contribution to the Marxist critique of culture and the arts...

, Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends—he once described postmodernism as the spatialization of culture under the pressure of organized capitalism...

, Antonio Negri
Antonio Negri
Antonio Negri is an Italian Marxist sociologist and political philosopher.Negri is best-known for his co-authorship of Empire, and secondarily for his work on Spinoza. Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university...

, and Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall (cultural theorist)
Stuart Hall is a cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1951. Hall, along with Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies or The Birmingham School of...

.

Socioeconomics


Economic sociology is sometimes synonymous with socioeconomics
Socioeconomics
Socioeconomics or socio-economics or social economics is an umbrella term with different usages. 'Social economics' may refer broadly to the "use of economics in the study of society." More narrowly, contemporary practice considers behavioral interactions of individuals and groups through social...

. In most cases, however, socioeconomists focus on the social impact of very specific economic changes, such as the closing of a factory, market manipulation
Market manipulation
Market manipulation describes a deliberate attempt to interfere with the free and fair operation of the market and create artificial, false or misleading appearances with respect to the price of, or market for, a security, commodity or currency...

, new natural gas regulation, and so on.

Economic sociology of US immigration



Immigration to the United States During the twentieth century, the trend of the immigration groups was to settle in urban areas. There was much cluster in the ethnic neighborhoods with the Chinatowns, Little Italys, and other areas becoming features of larger cities. The high level of competition for jobs allowed employers to impose very long work days for low pay creating unhealthy working conditions. In spite of these conditions, the economy was booming.

The sociological debate today focuses on new immigrants' ability to find employment and to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Side One – George Borjas came out with an essay in 1994 titled "The Economics of Immigration". Borjas goes on to say that since the 1980s, the United States has attracted "lower-quality" immigrants with less education and few marketable job skills. Borjas' estimates show that as high as 21 percent of immigrant households participate in social assistance programs consisting of food stamps, Medicaid, etc. Because recent immigrants may have trouble finding jobs in the short term, the economic assimilation can be slow.

Side two – This side takes the opposite approach, claiming that recent immigration has either a positive effect and if not, no effect or influence on the economy. There are economists and policy analysts to back this up as well. One of them is the economist Julian Simon. Simon argues that immigrants benefit the U.S. economy by joining the labor force and paying into the federal revenue system for their whole lives. By the time they receive their long-term benefits of such things as Social Security, their children will be covering these costs by working and paying into the tax system themselves.

See also


  • Political sociology
    Political sociology
    Contemporary political sociology involves much more than the study of the relations between state and society . Where a typical research question in political sociology might have been: "Why do so few American citizens choose to vote?" or even, "What difference does it make if women get elected?" ...

  • Behavioral economics

  • Cultural economics
    Cultural economics
    Cultural economics is the branch of economics that studies the relation of culture to economic outcomes. Here, 'culture' is defined by shared beliefs and preferences of respective groups. Programmatic issues include whether and how much culture matters as to economic outcomes and what its relation...

  • Economic anthropology
    Economic anthropology
    Economic anthropology is a scholarly field that attempts to explain human economic behavior using the tools of both economics and anthropology. It is practiced by anthropologists and has a complex relationship with economics...

  • Economic imperialism (economics)
  • Institutionalism
    Institutionalism
    Institutionalism can refer to:* Old Institutionalism: An approach to the study of politics that focuses on formal institutions of government* New institutionalism: a social theory that focuses on developing a sociological view of institutions, the way they interact and the effects of institutions...


  • Institutional economics
    Institutional economics
    Institutional economics focuses on understanding the role of the evolutionary process and the role of institutions in shaping economic behaviour. Its original focus lay in Thorstein Veblen's instinct-oriented dichotomy between technology on the one side and the "ceremonial" sphere of society on the...

  • Macroeconomics
    Macroeconomics
    Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of the whole economy. This includes a national, regional, or global economy...

  • Political economy
    Political economy
    Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...



Journals

  • The American Journal of Economics and Sociology
    The American Journal of Economics and Sociology
    The American Journal of Economics and Sociology is a peer-reviewed academic journal established in 1941 by Will Lissner with support from the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. The purpose of the journal was to create a forum for a continuing discussion of the issues raised by Henry George, a...

    - Website