Competition as instituted economic process
in Market relations and the competitive 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 argues that competition processes are co-instituted with markets, and that market processes are in turn co-instituted with industrial divisions of labour. It begins with an examination of some of the few empirically based studies of competition, suggesting that they often are developed for overtly normative or prescriptive purposes. The chapter then returns to analyse some of the early Weberian conceptions of competition, upon which to build an economic sociology of competitive processes. It provides an exemplification of the analytical framework through a schematic analysis of changing forms of competition in the historical development of UK food supermarkets. The conclusion drawn from this analysis is that competitive processes are a result of processes of transformation wider than intra-market dynamics.

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Editors: Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde


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