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.
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.
Competition as instituted economic process
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
Markets, embeddedness and trust:
problems of polysemy and idealism
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
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
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
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