Exchange, Action, and Social Structure: Elements of Economic Sociology

By Milan Zafirovski | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Generally, the influence of social actions, processes, and structures on economic behavior constitutes the central idea of economic sociology. More particularly, such social influences on economic exchange provide the analytical basis for a sociology of markets. This work was grounded on Weber's conception of economic sociology, especially the sociology of the market, as an important field of sociology (and economics), more particularly, on his classical insights into the conjunction with new developments and elements in the field. Hence, condensing this conception vis-à-vis the new economic sociology is in order at this point, and so is contrasting Weber's (as often termed) rationalist sociology with modern rational choice, including social exchange, theory.

As a primary observation, we recognize the essential continuity and affinity of classical, including Weber's, economic sociology with its new formulation by tracing the larter's key concept of the social embeddedness of economic action, especially exchange, to the former. Yet, this concept is sometimes used to distance Weber's project of economic sociology from its new formulations, to the effect that, relative to the latter, presumably the former held a much weaker or even no conception of embeddedness. Such distancing seems misguided, because Weber's economic sociology—and for that matter, Durkheim's—presents or implies a social, including an institutional-cultural, embeddedness conception par excellence. As a secondary observation, we note the discontinuity or dis-affinity of Weber's rationalist sociology with rational choice/social exchange theory (i.e., the economic approach to social action).

Most importantly for the subject under investigation, the core proposition of both classical and new economic sociology is that the economy is

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