Contemporary articles citing Zelizer V (1979) Morals Markets Dev L
cultural, economic, contrast, market, society, action, markets, economy, order, institutional
- Emirbayer, M. 1996. "Useful Durkheim." Sociological Theory. 14:2 109-130.
- From the mid-1960s through much of the 1980s, Durkheim's contributions to historical-comparative sociology were decidedly marginalized; the title of one of Charles Tilly's essays, ``Useless Durkheim,'' conveys this prevailing sensibility with perfect clarity. Here, ky contrast, I draw upon writings from Durkheim's later ``religious'' period to show how Durkheim has special relevance today for debates in the historical-comparative field. I examine how his substantive writings shed light on current discussions regarding civil society; how his analytical insights help to show how action within civil society as well as other historical contexts is channelled by cultural, social-structural, and social-psychological configurations (plus transformative human agency); and how his ontological commitment to a ``relational social realisin'' contributes to ongoing attempts to rethink the foundations of historical-comparative investigation.
- Velthuis, O. 2003. "Symbolic Meanings of Prices: Constructing the Value of Contemporary Art in Amsterdam and New York Galleries." Theory and Society. 32:2 181-215.
- This article develops a sociological analysis of the price mechanism on the market for contemporary art. On the basis of in-depth interviews with art dealers in New York and Amsterdam, I address two pricing norms: one norm inhibits art dealers from decreasing prices; the other induces them to set prices according to size. To account for these pricing norms, I argue that price setting is not just an economic but also a signifying act: despite their impersonal, businesslike connotations, actors on markets manage to express a range of cognitive and cultural meanings through prices. Previously, meanings of prices have been recognized in signaling theories within economics. However, these meanings are restricted to profit opportunities. Within the humanities, by contrast, meanings of prices are restricted to contaminating or corrosive meanings. The sociological perspective I develop claims that prices, price differences, and price changes convey multiple meanings related to the reputation of artists, the social status of dealers, and the quality of the artworks that are traded.
- Convert, Bernard & Johan Heilbron. 2007. "Where Did the New Economic Sociology Come From?." Theory and Society. 36:1 31-54.
- Like all new research fields, the ``new economic sociology'' was produced by the redeployment of relatively diverse researchers under a single academic label. Academic entrepreneurs in the second half of the 1980s took up the traditional term of the European ``founding fathers'' claiming they were renewing the discipline while distinguishing themselves from (1) the old homegrown denomination ``economy and society,'' (2) anti-disciplinary currents such as neo-Marxism, and (3) interdisciplinary movements like ``socioeconomics.'' The relative unity of the new economic sociology was due more to this set of demarcations than to a specific intellectual approach. The new economic sociology obtained its scientific legitimacy by bringing together two promising new currents: network analysis and neo-institutionalism, along with a more marginal cultural mode of analysis. While there had been very little exchange among these currents, mutual references became more ecumenical once a common label had emerged and distinct intellectual programs were launched. Institutional legitimacy was quickly obtained thanks to the support of the Russell Sage Foundation, enabling a process of expansion that in Europe developed far more slowly. The case of the ``new economic sociology'' demonstrates that the creation of new subdisciplines cannot be understood merely through the analysis of direct interactions among persons linked to each other by inter-acquaintanceship. In accordance with a field theoretical approach, academic entrepreneurs function under structural conditions which must also be taken into account. Among these structural conditions were changes in the academic field itself (due to demographical effects, the imperialism of economics, and the surge in Business Schools) as well as in the political sphere (die rise of neo-liberalism).
- Abend, Gabriel. 2008. "Two Main Problems in the Sociology of Morality." Theory and Society. 37:2 87-125.
- Sociologists often ask why particular groups of people have the moral views that they do. I argue that sociology's empirical research on morality relies, implicitly or explicitly, on unsophisticated and even obsolete ethical theories, and thus is based on inadequate conceptions of the ontology, epistemology, and semantics of morality. In this article I address the two main problems in the sociology of morality: (1) the problem of moral truth, and (2) the problem of value freedom. I identify two ideal-typical approaches. While the Weberian paradigm rejects the concept of moral truth, the Durkheimian paradigm accepts it. By contrast, I argue that sociology should be metaphysically agnostic, yet in practice it should proceed as though there were no moral truths. The Weberians claim that the sociology of morality can and should be value free; the Durkheimians claim that it cannot and it should not. My argument is that, while it is true that factual statements presuppose value judgments, it does not follow that sociologists are moral philosophers in disguise. Finally, I contend that in order for sociology to improve its understanding of morality, better conceptual, epistemological, and methodological foundations are needed.
- Steiner, Philippe. 2009. "Who Is Right About the Modern Economy: Polanyi, Zelizer, or Both?." Theory and Society. 38:1 97-110.
- Zelizer's work may be read as an attack on the central Polanyian thesis: that the market system threatens social life by the undue prominence it lends the economy in the organization of modern society. The recent publication of Viviana Zelizer's The Purchase of Intimacy (2005a) is therefore an excellent opportunity to review the general trend of her work Zelizer 1979, 1985, 1994, and contrast her leading ideas to the central thesis that gives Polanyi's work its particular flavor: the danger encapsulated in the use of modern money and the functioning of the market system.
- Beckert, Jens. 2009. "The Social Order of Markets." Theory and Society. 38:3 245-269.
- In this article I develop a proposal for the theoretical vantage point of the sociology of markets, focusing on the problem of the social order of markets. The initial premise is that markets are highly demanding arenas of social interaction, which can only operate if three inevitable coordination problems are resolved. I define these coordination problems as the value problem, the problem of competition and the cooperation problem. I argue that these problems can only be resolved based on stable reciprocal expectations on the part of market actors, which have their basis in the socio-structural, institutional and cultural embedding of markets. The sociology of markets aims to investigate how market action is structured by these macrostructures and to examine their dynamic processes of change. While the focus of economic sociology has been primarily on the stability of markets and the reproduction of firms, the conceptualization developed here brings change and profit motives more forcefully into the analysis. It also differs from the focus of the new economic sociology on the supply side of markets, by emphasizing the role of demand for the order of markets, especially in the discussion of the problems of valuation and cooperation.
- Chan, Cheris. 2009. "Creating a Market in the Presence of Cultural Resistance: the Case of Life Insurance in China." Theory and Society. 38:3 271-305.
- This article brings together two different conceptions of culture-a shared meaning system on one hand and a repertoire of strategies on the other-to understand the emergence of a market. Based on ethnographic data, it examines how a Chinese life insurance market is emerging in the presence of incompatible shared values and ideas acting as cultural barriers, and how these cultural barriers shape the formation of the market. The findings reveal a burgeoning Chinese life insurance market despite local cultural logics incompatible with the profit-oriented institutional logic of life insurance. This Chinese market, however, has developed along a different trajectory from what might be expected. It first emerged as a money management, rather than a risk management, market. I argue that the very cultural barriers that compose the local resistance to a new economic practice also necessitate the mobilization of the cultural tool-kit to circumvent this resistance. These dual processes, shared ideas composing the resistance and the cultural tool-kit circumventing the resistance, shape the trajectory and characteristics of an emergent market. I propose a theoretical model specifying the mechanisms through which the two forms of culture interplay to influence the development of the life insurance. I apply this model to extend Zelizer's (1979) insights and discuss how culture matters in forging a new market in the global diffusion of capitalism.
- Beckert, Jens. 2012. "The ``social Order of Markets'' Approach: a Reply to Kurtulus Gemici." Theory and Society. 41:1 119-125.
- This is a detailed reply to Kurtulus Gemici's article, in this issue of Theory and Society, ``Uncertainty, the problem of order, and markets: a critique of Beckert, Theory and Society, May 2009.''
- Beckert, Jens. 2013. "Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations in the Economy." Theory and Society. 42:3 219-240.
- Starting from the assumption that decision situations in economic contexts are characterized by fundamental uncertainty, this article argues that the decision-making of intentionally rational actors is anchored in fictions. ``Fictionality'' in economic action is the inhabitation in the mind of an imagined future state of the world and the beliefs in causal mechanisms leading to this future state. Actors are motivated in their actions by the imagined future and organize their activities based on these mental representations. Since these representations are not confined to empirical reality, fictional expectations are also a source of creativity in the economy. Fictionality opens up a way to an understanding of the microfoundations of the dynamics of the economy. The article develops the notion of fictional expectations. It discusses the role of fictional expectations for the dynamics of the economy and addresses the question of how fictional expectations motivate action. The last part relates the notion of fiction to calculation and social macrostructures, especially institutions and cultural frames. The conclusion hints at the research program developing from the concept of fictional expectations.