Economy and Society: A Study in the Integration of Economic and Social Theory

Economy and Society: A Study in the Integration of Economic and Social Theory

Economy and Society: A Study in the Integration of Economic and Social Theory

Economy and Society: A Study in the Integration of Economic and Social Theory

Synopsis

This volume is designed as a contribution to the synthesis of theory ineconomics and sociology. We believe that the degree of separationbetween these two disciplines separation emphasized by intellectualtraditions and present institutional arrangements arbitrarily concealsa degree of intrinsic intimacy between them which must be brought tothe attention of the respective professional groups.

Excerpt

This volume is designed as a contribution to the synthesis of theory in economics and sociology. We believe that the degree of separation between these two disciplines-separation emphasized by intellectual traditions and present institutional arrangements-arbitrarily conceals a degree of intrinsic intimacy between them which must be brought to the attention of the respective professional groups.

We dedicate the book to the memory of two great figures in the recent history of social science, one identified with each of the two disciplines. The work of Marshall and Weber, considered together, constituted a level of rapprochement between economics and sociology which has not been matched since. From a somewhat different point of view Pareto also made a notable attempt at synthesis which has greatly influenced our thinking. It seemed as though the theory of economic equilibrium he took over from Walras and developed was about to merge into a general theory of social systems. But the initiative of these men failed to gain momentum. Indeed, we feel that there has been, if anything, a retrogression rather than an advance in the intervening half century.

Why has such a promising start failed to lead to further developments? On the side of economics, we might suggest three barriers. First, economists have become increasingly preoccupied with the great potentialities of the technical apparatus of economic theory (to which Marshall himself made such a major contribution). Second, the pressing problems of public policy have required immediate contributions from economists; under such pressure, exploration of theoretical side-roads to neighbouring disciplines seemed inappropriate. Finally, the elementary level of sociological theory itself-including the fact that most of the best sociological theory has remained until recently in languages other than English-for a long time provided little to which economists could turn.

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