There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market and the competitive process in particular. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. This book explores this interface in a number of ways, looking at the competitive process and market relations from a number of different perspectives. It considers the social role of economic institutions in society and examines the various meanings embedded in the word 'markets', as well as developing arguments on the nature of competition as an instituted economic process. The close of the twentieth century saw a virtual canonisation of markets as the best, indeed the only really effective, way to govern an economic system. The market organisation being canonised was simple and pure, along the lines of the standard textbook model in economics. The book discusses the concepts of polysemy , idealism, cognition, materiality and cultural economy. Michael Best provides an account of regional economic adaptation to changed market circumstances. This is the story of the dynamics of capitalism focused on the resurgence of the Route 128 region around Boston following its decline in the mid-1980s in the face of competition from Silicon Valley. The book also addresses the question of how this resurgence was achieved.
I have benefitted from discussions with Professor Kevin Keasey, Director of the International Institute of Banking and Financial Services, University of Leeds, and Professor Robert Hudson, Professor of Finance at Hull University School of Business. I would especially like to thank Robert Stowe England, financial journalist and author of ‘Black Box Casino: How Wall Street's Risky Shadow Banking Crashed Global Finance’ for his assistance and Lord Desai, Emeritus Professor of Economics at London School of Economics, for reading the manuscript in draft and for all his constructive comments. Any errors and misconceptions are mine.
Dr Oonagh McDonald CBE