Economic Sociology: An Examination of Intellectual Exchange

By Davern, Michael E.; Eitzen, D. Stanley | The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, January 1995 | Go to article overview

Economic Sociology: An Examination of Intellectual Exchange


Davern, Michael E., Eitzen, D. Stanley, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology


I

Introduction

Scholarly interest in the gray area overlapping economics and sociology has brought about intellectual exchange between the two disciplines concerning common issues. The work in this area concerns issues of interest to both economists and sociologists and has been called economic sociology, socioeconomics or socio-economics (Stinchcombe, 1983; Ritzer, 1989; Swedberg, 1990; 1991; Etzioni and Lawrence, 1991; Burgenmeier, 1992). Economic sociology is the intellectual arena where the "unrealistic, but clean models in economics and the 'verstehen' oriented dirty hands of sociology" meet (Hirsch, Michaels and Friedman, 1987, p. 324). Economists tend to be concerned with theoretically oriented mathematical models of rational individual maximization ("clean models"). Sociologists, on the other hand, tend to be theoretically disjointed and empirically driven ("dirty hands"). These divergent approaches of economists and sociologists prevented the intellectual exchange of research across disciplinary boundaries for much of the twentieth century (Swedberg, 1990).

Swedberg (1990; 1991) believes that the isolationist tendency of the two disciplines is coming to an end as economists use the economic method to explain social phenomena, and as sociologists use social theory to broaden the scope of economic theory. Economic sociology brings the two social sciences together. The intellectual exchange between disciplines will inform economic sociology and allow its practitioners to produce better research as well as to provide better policy recommendations.

Past attempts at a synthesis between economics and sociology have been made. For example, in the early 1950s at Harvard economists James Duesenberry, Carl Kaysen and James Tobin got together with sociologists Talcott Parsons, Neil Smelser and Francis X. Sutton. This effort, however, was short-lived and was not as productive as it could have been (Swedberg, 1990). Another attempt was made at Carnegie Tech by Herbert Simon, but his behavioral economics did not succeed in changing the mind-set of main stream economics (Swedberg, 1990).

Current attempts at integration between economics and sociology are being made by many influential theorists and researchers. While among the economists, Gary Becker stands out above the rest. Oliver Williamson and George Akerlof have also contributed. Becker's insight of using economic theory to explain traditionally "non-economic" phenomena has been taken seriously in economic sociology. Classics, such as Human Capital, Economics of Discrimination, and The Economic Approach to Human Behavior, have drawn considerable admiration and criticism from sociologists and economists (Swedberg, 1990). However, similarly insightful materials by sociologists (like Mark Granovetter, Ronald Burt, and Harrison White) appear to have been influential only in sociological circles, and for the most part, been ignored by main-stream economists. For these reasons, there seem to be two phenomena dominating the revival of economic sociology.

The first is "economic imperialism" and the second is "economic hubris." Economic imperialism, which has been well documented, occurs when economists use their own theory, namely neo-classical theory based on the three assumptions of (1) constant preferences (2) maximizing behavior, and (3) market coordination of social participants (Becker, 1976), to explain social phenomena (Radnitzky and Bernholz, 1987; Swedberg, 1990). Economic hubris, which has not been well documented, is when economists fail to recognize the important contributions by sociologists concerning topics of interest to both sociologists and economists. Economic imperialism is a good thing for social science in general, and sociology in particular, because it allows for a new approach to, and debate about, traditional sociological problems.

Economic hubris, on the other hand, is not beneficiary to the social sciences. …

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

Economic Sociology: An Examination of Intellectual Exchange
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.