Neo-structural economic sociology beyond embeddedness – Relational infrastructures and social processes in markets and market institutions

ORIO Network: Julien Brailly, Catherine Comet, Sébastien Delarre, Fabien Eloire, Guillaume Favre, Emmanuel Lazega, Lise Mounier, Jaime Montes-Lihn, Mohamed Oubenal, Elise Penalva-Icher, Alvaro Pina-Stranger (2018)

Economic Sociology – The European Electronic Newsletter, 19(3)

Introduction. In contemporary economies, a majority of individuals, organizations, and institutions participating in economic production, exchange, and consumption are thrust into open forms of competition imposed by contemporary capitalisms; in other words, neoliberal public authorities and global companies shaping the contexts and lives of smaller, less powerful actors. To dominate and/or survive, all have strong incentives to play complex games of cooperation among competitors. Along with capital, labor, and natural resources, cooperation among competitors is seen here as a “fourth factor of production.” The research program focusing on this phenomenon combines White’s (1981, 2001) perspective on production markets extended to the “Economie des Conventions” (Favereau, 1994, 2002) with a theory of collegiality as collective action among rival peers (Lazega, 2001), thus bringing together structure, culture, and agency (individual and collective) in a new way. In order to accomplish this, we define markets as both bureaucratic and collegial (Lazega and Mounier, 2002), and socio-economic relationships both as channels for heterogeneous resources and as symbolic commitments that have to build their credibility. These commitments are equivalent to a promise, an obligation, or a convention introducing time into the exchange of resources. They rely on social control and conflict resolution to make such commitments credible. […]

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