The Architecture of Markets: An Economic Sociology of Twenty-First-Century Capitalist Societies 1st Edition
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Market societies have created more wealth, and more opportunities for more people, than any other system of social organization in history. Yet we still have a rudimentary understanding of how markets themselves are social constructions that require extensive institutional support. This groundbreaking work seeks to fill this gap, to make sense of modern capitalism by developing a sociological theory of market institutions. Addressing the unruly dynamism that capitalism brings with it, leading sociologist Neil Fligstein argues that the basic drift of any one market and its actors, even allowing for competition, is toward stabilization.
The Architecture of Markets represents a major and timely step beyond recent, largely empirical studies that oppose the neoclassical model of perfect competition but provide sparse theory toward a coherent economic sociology. Fligstein offers this theory. With it he interprets not just globalization and the information economy, but developments more specific to American capitalism in the past two decades--among them, the 1980s merger movement. He makes new inroads into the ''theory of fields,'' which links the formation of markets and firms to the problems of stability. His political-cultural approach explains why governments remain crucial to markets and why so many national variations of capitalism endure. States help make stable markets possible by, for example, establishing the rule of law and adjudicating the class struggle. State-building and market-building go hand in hand.
Fligstein shows that market actors depend mightily upon governments and the members of society for the social conditions that produce wealth. He demonstrates that systems favoring more social justice and redistribution can yield stable markets and economic growth as readily as less egalitarian systems. This book will surely join the classics on capitalism. Economists, sociologists, policymakers, and all those interested in what makes markets function as they do will read it for many years to come.
"Until the appearance of Fligstein's new book . . . no one has attempted to integrate economic sociology into a coherent, consistent, and comprehensive approach for the study of market capitalism. This book, therefore, sets a standard for other books that will follow in the coming decades. By all measures, it is an impressive book that deserves careful reading by everyone interested in the analysis of capitalist economies."---Gary G. Hamilton, American Journal of Sociology
This is an important book. It . . . will undoubtedly redirect research
attention and encourage new work on the rules and politics that structure market relations. This book pushes us forward and suggests a rich vein waiting to be mined.
"Neil Fligstein has produced a major and innovative contribution to economic sociology; he has created an exciting theory about how markets will behave, and this theory will no doubt be discussed quite a bit in the coming years. This book represents the first attempt in contemporary economic sociology to produce a full . . . analysis of the economy."―Richard Swedberg, Stockholm University
- ASIN : 0691102546
- Publisher : Princeton University Press; 1st edition (October 6, 2002)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780691102542
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691102542
- Item Weight : 1.02 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.06 x 0.71 x 9.02 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,806,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Economic action takes place in the market. Fligstein holds that there is no reason to treat the market differently. Social action takes place in organized social space, or field in Bourdieu¡¯s term. Fields is the space where one try to dominate others. But the domination in that space is systemized and routinized. It defines local relations between actors. Once in place, the interactions in fields become ¡®games¡¯ where groups in filed who have more power use the acceptable rules to reproduce their power: the domination system is institutionalized. This process makes action in fields inherently political. Studying field is about opening of new social space, how it becomes and remains stable (become a field), and the forces that transform fields.
Fligstein replaces profit-maximizing actor with one who takes care of the survival of their firm. Managers and owners are trying enhance the survival of the firm by reducing the uncertainties they face in the market. Managing uncertain environment is a sizable task. It¡¯s about the search for stable and predictable interactions with competitors, suppliers, and workers. Relationship between seller and buyer is fleeting. Stability in the market lies in the relationship between sellers, then. Relationships between them delineate the market as a field. The social relations are oriented toward maintaining the advantage of largest seller firms in the face of their challengers. They define how the market works and how competition is structured. Although the firms compete, they have produced an equilibrium whereby they survive by following the accepted tactics of competition. As forms of social relation, market systems involve both shared understanding and concrete social relations. The shared understandings structure the interactions between competitors but also allow actors to make sense of their competitors actions. There are four types of rules relevant to producing social structure in markets: property rights, governance structures, rules of exchange, and conception of control. These categories are the essential analytic tools in Fligstein¡¯s approach. They enable researcher to dissect empirically. But definition and details are intricate to propose here. I¡¯ll skip it.
Part I of this book sketch out the theoretical outline of Fligstein¡¯s approach. Part II support it with case studies of labor market, corporate governance, and globalization. On the whole, this book is readable and persuasive. Points are clear, lines are easy to follow. In my opinion, it¡¯s a breakthrough in economic sociology.
It really let me down.
As I read through the book I kept saying "duh" to myself. Unless you are a conservative with a fantasticailly naive ideal of capitalism wherein business acts perfectly rationally and only to maximize profit, there is little to be gained from this book. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the realities of capitlism will not be learning much that wasn't already known - though they may lack the terminology and rigor of his sociological definitions.
There is an interesting chapter near the end about how the ideology of corporate control has changed, and with it how corporations have functioned. This is the only real chapter that I found interesting.
The last chapter of the book is a weak defense of globalization. His "political-cultural approach" fails to offer any explanation for why the economy has undergone so many significant changes in the past twenty five years. He defines the amount of "globalization" as the amount of trade flows across borders and then insists that globalization has not caused an increase in inequality because Japan and Europe, who are less dependent on foreign trade than America have not suffered the same increase in inequality!
look for a better book.