The New Economic Sociology and Its Relevance to Australia

By Gilding, Michael | Journal of Sociology, September 2005 | Go to article overview

The New Economic Sociology and Its Relevance to Australia


Gilding, Michael, Journal of Sociology


Australian sociologists have a long-standing interest in the articulation between the economy and society. Their research mostly takes its bearings from political economy and critical theory. Two themes are especially prominent: first, the role of the state and political elites in relation to the economy and, second, social class and social control. An exemplar of the former theme is Michael Pusey's Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation Building State Changes Its Mind (1991); an exemplar of the latter is R.W. Connell's Ruling Class, Ruling Culture: Studies of Conflict, Power and Hegemony in Australian Life (1977). When the Australian Sociological Association ran a poll of its members regarding the most influential books in Australian sociology on its fortieth anniversary in 2003, Connell's Ruling Class Ruling Culture came first and Pusey's Economic Rationalism in Canberra ran second. Presumably these results indicate that this line of inquiry is held in high regard by the Australian sociological community. So it should be.

Yet there is another sociological tradition that addresses the articulation between the economy and society. This approach, usually described as 'economic sociology', has undergone a resurgence in the past two decades, especially in the United States (Guillen et al., 2002: 5-6). In turn, there has been a wave of books that take stock of the field, both in terms of its classical lineage and its contemporary manifestation. Most but not all of these books are from the US. They include Carlo Trigilia's Economic Sociology: State, Market, and Society in Modern Capitalism (1998; English translation 2002); Neil Fligstein's The Architecture of Markets: An Economic Sociology of Twenty-first-century Societies (2001); Harrison White's Markets from Networks: Socioeconomic Models of Production (2001); Nicole Biggart's Readings in Economic Sociology (2002); and The New Economic Sociology: Developments in an Emerging Field (2002), edited by Mauro Guillen, Randall Collins, Paula England and Marshall Meyer.

The new economic sociology has barely registered in Australia. This is a pity. This review article explores how economic sociology might contribute towards a richer understanding of the articulation between economy and society in Australian sociology. It does so through a review of three books. First, it addresses Michael Pusey's latest book, The Experience of Middle Australia: The Dark Side of Economic Reform (2003). It then turns its attention to Carlo Trigilia's Economic Sociology, a landmark synthesis of the field from a European perspective, and Neil Fligstein's The Architecture of Markets, an ambitious attempt to build a more coherent theoretical foundation for the field. Finally, the article considers how economic sociology might enrich Australian sociology.

Pusey's The Experience of Middle Australia

Connell's Ruling Class Ruling Culture was written in the midst of the crisis of the Keynesian welfare state and the Fordist production model. The crisis was followed by two decades of neoliberal economic reform. The intellectual leadership of the case for neoliberal economic reform--or 'economic rationalism' as it became known in Australia--came from economists. The intellectual leadership against economic reform came from political scientists, with the support of sociologists and some renegade economists (Carroll and Manne, 1992; Stewart, 1994; Stilwell, 2000). The dominant framework in the case against neoliberalism was one of political economy, for sociologists as well as political scientists.

The most prominent sociologist in the debate around neoliberalism was Michael Pusey. Pusey's Economic Rationalism in Canberra, based on interviews with 215 senior government officials, catapulted Pusey to national prominence in the debate. Pusey described how 'economic rationalists', often trained in economics and sceptical about the role of government, had taken over the senior ranks of the federal public service. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The New Economic Sociology and Its Relevance to Australia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.