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Economic Sociology

What is Economic Sociology?

Economic sociology is defined in many ways. We define economic sociology broadly as the study of the social processes of resource creation, distribution,exchange and consumption. Special interests within economic sociology include the study of: business, caring, crime, disability, employment, entrepreneurs, environment, families, food, gambling, gender, health, housing, markets, money, networks, philanthropy, taxation, technology, wealth, and more.

Other definitions of economic sociology include:

Emile Durkheim ([1909] 1978:80 in R. Swedberg Principles of Economic Sociology)

‘Finally there are the economic institutions: institutions relating to the production of wealth (serfdom, tenant farming, corporate organization, production in factories, in mills, at home, and so on), institutions relating to exchange (commercial organization, markets, stock exchanges, and so on), institutions relating to distribution (rent, interest, salaries, and so on). They form the subject matter of economic sociology.’

Paula England’s and Nancy Folbre’s definition of economic sociology includes ‘production in the household’ and the ‘large distributive flows of resources (money and time) that pass between spouses, family members living apart, adult children and their parents, and parents and children’ (England, P. and N. Folbre (2005 ) ‘Gender and economic sociology’ pp. 627-649 in N. Smelser and R. Swedberg (eds) Handbook of economic sociology. Russell Sage and Princeton)

Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg define economic sociology as ‘the sociological perspective applied to economic phenomena’ (The handbook of economic sociology. 2nd 2005: 3).

For a discussion of key concepts in economic sociology see ‘The toolkit of economic sociology’ Richard Swedberg 2004

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