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Editors: Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

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.

Open Access (free)

9 Conclusion Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde In conclusion we draw together and evaluate a number of the themes raised in this volume and begin to sketch an agenda for future research about markets and the competitive process. Happily, this book resides within a now-flourishing broader stream of ideas at the interface between economics and sociology. Some of this new work signals the resurrection of economic sociology, while other aspects of it emanate from within the literature on innovation processes and, more generally, from evolutionary economics. There has

in Market relations and the competitive process

4 Competition as instituted economic process Mark Harvey Introduction A challenge to the new economic sociology is that central economic processes should become the focus of theoretical and empirical sociological analysis. This chapter makes some steps towards analysing competition in that light, partly because competition is often assumed to be the market force of all market forces. The central argument made is both that competition processes are co-instituted with markets (including end markets), and that market processes are in turn co-instituted with

in Market relations and the competitive process
Problems of polysemy and idealism

2 Markets, embeddedness and trust: problems of polysemy and idealism Andrew Sayer Introduction In this paper I develop a critique of certain approaches to markets and firm behaviour in economics and economic sociology. There are two main targets of the critique. The first concerns some common approaches to markets and the nature of firms in relation to them. Here I argue that the diverse uses of the term ‘market’ in contemporary lay and academic discourse cause confusion. Also problematic in both mainstream and institutional economics is the tendency to treat

in Market relations and the competitive process
Open Access (free)

1 Introduction Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde 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. In many ways this is to return to a previous age when the study of institutional arrangements was at the centre of the study of

in Market relations and the competitive process

chapter is that characterisations of ‘new economy’ that are based on the idea of dematerialisation are problematic because the distinction on which they are based misrepresents the issue of materiality. A historical account of socio-economic change which argues that ‘things’ have become ‘less material’ assumes that they were somehow more, or more transparently, material in the past, an argument that is contested by most research in areas such as sociology of consumption, material culture and science and technology studies. Indeed, as the next section argues, notions of

in Market relations and the competitive process
Constituting the cultural economy

market growth, urban and regional regeneration, and foreign trade. Here, ‘culture’ is taken to refer to a specific domain of aesthetic and expressive production that is susceptible to commodification in economic terms3 (see McAnany and Wilkinson, 1995; DCMS, 2001). Over the same period, theoretical accounts within economic sociology have focused not only on cultural production as an economic sector, but on the increasingly cultural content of wider production processes, of economic goods and services, and of economic life more generally (see Lash and Urry, 1994; du Gay

in Market relations and the competitive process