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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.

industrial divisions of labour. Thus, it is suggested that an excessive burden of explanatory expectation is placed on competitive processes within markets, as the dynamic of capitalist economies. Indeed, I argue here that many conceptions of competition suffer from this ‘tilt towards the market’ as the sole or primary dynamic force behind economic growth, to the exclusion or at least sidelining of complementary but at least equally significant dynamics within the realm of production, such as capital accumulation. After all, to put it at its weakest, competition may

in Market relations and the competitive process
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
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
Constituting the cultural economy

, running ahead of the unwieldy analytic categories that lumber in their wake (see McRobbie, 2001). It is difficult to capture the range of products, the forms of knowledge and expertise, the business types and economic actors that constitute the cultural economy in different places and across different sub-sectors.2 My concern here is to develop a number of conceptual and critical points relating to the analysis of cultural economies that may have extended relevance to the study of contemporary market relations, competitive processes and economic organisation. The

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

developing procedures which enable us to make new combinations from the results of that division. Market institutions not only release cognitive resources for the development of both consumer and organisational capital and therefore of new consumer demands and new productive opportunities which create new contexts for competition: particular institutional structures will encourage these developments to take particular forms. A study of the competitive process requires a study of the institutions within which it is channelled, and also of attempts to modify those

in Market relations and the competitive process

with BSkyB rather than with BSkyB’s competitors. In addition to representing a distortion of the competitive process to the detriment of other broadcasting companies, such a situation could also have posed an anti-competitive threat to other football clubs in the Premiership (and might in addition have had a deleterious effect on clubs outside the Premiership). If the merger had gone ahead and the Restrictive Practices Court had ended the current bargaining arrangements, then other broadcasters would have been at a competitive disadvantage vis à vis BSkyB in

in Market relations and the competitive process

The market organisation being canonised was simple and pure, along the lines of the standard textbook model in economics. This chapter considers the various virtues that purportedly characterise market organisation and elevates it over other kinds of governance structures. It concerns with 'market failure' theory, and other broad theories that point towards the desirability of a mixed economy. The chapter proposes that almost all activities in modern economies are governed through a mix of market and non-market mechanisms, with the relative importance of markets. The presumption and the fact that markets play a pervasive role in the governance and organisation of economic activity are relatively recent phenomena. To assess market organisation as a governing system, it is essential to widen the analytic context. The chapter focuses on strand of political philosophy, particularly Anglo-American political philosophy.

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

This chapter develops 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. The chapter argues that the diverse uses of the term 'market' in contemporary lay and academic discourse cause confusion. The second target of critique concerns literature on the socially embedded character of economic processes, on the nature of networks, and the role of trust. The chapter argues that their treatment has suffered frequently from being idealist, both in the sense of underestimating material aspects of economic life and in presenting an overly benign view which underestimates the instrumentality of most economic relations. It concludes with a reminder of the political significance of explanations of markets and competition.

in Market relations and the competitive process
Scale of demand and the role of competences

This chapter studies the evolution of the software industry in the UK. It describes the role of demand factors in the process of vertical disintegration and distinguishes between the product and service segments of the software market. The chapter reviews the changing need for software in the growth of the global software industry. It highlights the role of a narrow demand base in the emergence of a market for traded software in the UK. The chapter examines the supply side of the software market. It also examines the impact of the demand- and supply-side factors on the nature of competition, competitive advantage and barriers to growth for firms in the UK software sector. The absence of a large commodity software market has meant a less radical impact of the software industry upon industrial growth in the UK economy.

in Market relations and the competitive process