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Beyond the market : the social foundations of economic efficiency /
Jens Beckert ; translated by Barbara Harshav.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2002.
description
365 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0691049076 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2002.
isbn
0691049076 (alk. paper)
general note
Originally published as: Grenzen des Marktes.
catalogue key
4718634
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [327]-346) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Going against the mainstream of social theorizing, this excellent book is an attempt to reclaim a territory for sociology that has been increasingly occupied by either economists or sociologists-turned-economists. Beckert arrives at far-reaching conclusions and is not hesitant to spell them out unambiguously. His book represents a provocative and elegant contribution to the debate about the proper way of embedding markets in social governance structures. It reactivates the analytical program of sociology for an understanding of a terrain that the discipline has prematurely ceded to economics. It will have a wide readership and will offer itself, because of its clear writing, for wide use in teaching."--Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies "Beckert has an independent mind and argues in an enlightened and interesting way that a sociological theory of action can improve economic analysis. His argument, which reflects his knowledge of contemporary economic theory, is sophisticated and up-to-date."--Richard Swedberg, Stockholm University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-06-01:
Classical economics, with its emphasis on the rational actor who attempts to maximize his or her utility, has failed to adequately deal with the problem of economic efficiency. Sociological and psychological thought will remedy this. Specifically, one can question the assumptions of fixed preferences and rational decision making. These two questions arise in examining the situations of cooperation, decision making in conditions of uncertainty, and innovation. The work of Durkheim, with his emphasis on the moral order that exists in modern society, and the ideas of Talcott Parsons, viz., the notion that the economy adapts to larger conditions in society, provide answers as to how actors struggle to achieve economic efficiency when cooperation is required. The work of Luhman, who emphasizes the contingency of social interaction, and Anthony Giddins, who brings "interpretive" sociology into the discussion, offers help in dealing with situations where there is insufficient information and when innovation occurs. All of this is told opaquely in nearly 300 pages--a discussion that is mostly just words about words. In this reviewer's judgment, this book will be of little use to most social scientists. Summing Up: Optional. Specialists only. D. Harper University of Rochester
Reviews
Review Quotes
This book reflects impressive intellectual ambition, maturity, and erudition.
"This book reflects impressive intellectual ambition, maturity, and erudition."-- Bruce G. Carruther, American Journal of Sociology
This book reflects impressive intellectual ambition, maturity, and erudition. -- Bruce G. Carruther, American Journal of Sociology
Beckert has an independent mind and argues in an enlightened and interesting way that a sociological theory of action can improve economic analysis. His argument, which reflects his knowledge of contemporary economic theory, is sophisticated and up-to-date.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
'Beyond the Market' launches a sociological investigation into economic efficiency. Containing one of the most fully informed critiques of the neoclassical analysis of economic efficiency, this book reclaims for sociology the study of one of the most important arenas of human action.
Main Description
Beyond the Marketlaunches a sociological investigation into economic efficiency. Prevailing economic theory, which explains efficiency using formalized rational choice models, often simplifies human behavior to the point of distortion. Jens Beckert finds such theory to be particularly weak in explaining such crucial forms of economic behavior as cooperation, innovation, and action under conditions of uncertainty--phenomena he identifies as the proper starting point for a sociology of economic action. Beckert levels an enlightened critique at neoclassical economics, arguing that understanding efficiency requires looking well beyond the market to the social, cultural, political, and cognitive factors that influence the coordination of economic action. Beckert searches social theory for the components of an alternative theory of action, one that accounts for the social embedding of economic behavior. In Durkheim and Parsons he finds especially useful approaches to cooperation; in Luhmann, a way to understand how people act under highly contingent conditions; and in Giddens, an understanding of creative action and innovation. Together, these provide building blocks for a research program that will yield a theoretically sophisticated understanding of how economic processes are coordinated and the ways that markets are embedded in social, cultural, and cognitive structures. Containing one of the most fully informed critiques of the neoclassical analysis of economic efficiency--as well as one of the most thoughtful blueprints for economic sociology--this book reclaims for sociology the study of one of the most important arenas of human action.
Main Description
Beyond the Market launches a sociological investigation into economic efficiency. Prevailing economic theory, which explains efficiency using formalized rational choice models, often simplifies human behavior to the point of distortion. Jens Beckert finds such theory to be particularly weak in explaining such crucial forms of economic behavior as cooperation, innovation, and action under conditions of uncertainty--phenomena he identifies as the proper starting point for a sociology of economic action. Beckert levels an enlightened critique at neoclassical economics, arguing that understanding efficiency requires looking well beyond the market to the social, cultural, political, and cognitive factors that influence the coordination of economic action. Beckert searches social theory for the components of an alternative theory of action, one that accounts for the social embedding of economic behavior. In Durkheim and Parsons he finds especially useful approaches to cooperation; in Luhmann, a way to understand how people act under highly contingent conditions; and in Giddens, an understanding of creative action and innovation. Together, these provide building blocks for a research program that will yield a theoretically sophisticated understanding of how economic processes are coordinated and the ways that markets are embedded in social, cultural, and cognitive structures. Containing one of the most fully informed critiques of the neoclassical analysis of economic efficiency--as well as one of the most thoughtful blueprints for economic sociology--this book reclaims for sociology the study of one of the most important arenas of human action.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 1
Critiquep. 5
The Limits of the Rational-Actor Model as a Microfoundation of Economic Efficiencyp. 7
Cooperationp. 18
Uncertaintyp. 36
Innovationp. 50
Conceptsp. 67
Emile Durkheim: The Economyas Moral Orderp. 69
Sociology as the Science of Moralityp. 74
Durkheim's Critique of Economicsp. 76
Economic Institutions as Moral Factsp. 81
Anomie and Forced Division of Laborp. 114
Stabilizing Economic Relations with Professional Groupsp. 119
Cooperation and Moralityp. 122
Appendix: Systematizing the View of the Economy in Sociological Theory: Durkheim through
Weber to Parsonsp. 125
Talcott Parsons: The Economyas a Subsystem of Societyp. 133
Economic and Sociological Theory in Parsons's Early Workp. 135
The Economy as the Adaptive Subsystem of Societyp. 149
The Boundary Proceses of the Economyp. 156
The Institutional Establishment of Economic Rationalityp. 192
Cooperation and Interpenetrationp. 197
Niklas Luhmann: The Economyas a Autopoietic Systemp. 201
The Self-Referentiality of the Economyp. 207
The Reentry of the Excluded Third Partyp. 216
System and Actionp. 233
Anthony Giddens: Actor and Structure in Economic Actionp. 241
Interpretation and Structuration of Economic Action ??? Cooperation and Reflextivityp. 259
Innovation and Creativityp. 269
Conclusionsp. 283
Perspectives for Economic Sociologyp. 285
Notesp. 297
Bibliographyp. 327
Indexp. 347
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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