[B] Economic Sociology
Coordinators: Hanno Pahl
University of Bonn, Germany
Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany
Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria
Economic sociology has developed a large set of theoretical and methodological tools to analyze economic behavior and structures as genuine social facts and practices. In particular, the so-called 'New Economic Sociology' has been a quite successful endeavor in terms of recapturing lost terrain and presenting a sociological alternative to neoclassical economic thinking. In contrast to actors economic rationality and equilibrium markets, new economic sociology emphasizes the role of networks, institutions, trust, and risk.
We would like to contribute to a rearrangement of economic sociology, broadening its scope and multiplying its methods.
On the one hand, there is a need for a systematic dialogue with other branches that address relevant topics, namely: (a) the field of the social studies of finance; (b) the sociology of economics; (c) political economy; and (d) governmentality studies. Governmentality studies and political economy point out that economies are not separated from other spheres of society, and in comparison with the new economic sociology pay much greater attention to the interaction of markets with the state. Social studies of finance and the sociology of economics focus on the role of economics expert knowledge for the constitution of the economy, thereby enhancing economic sociology with insights from the sociology of knowledge.
On the other hand, this broadening of the scope of economic sociology implies possible fruitful encounters with economics itself. The new economic sociology has prospered through a critique of mainstream economics, identifying the whole branch of modern mainstream economics more or less simply with neoclassical economics. While this might be appropriate with regard to areas like textbook economics or some parts of political-decision making and public debate, the discipline of economics has been transformed in the last decades. Areas of research like experimental economics or complexity economics no longer proceed along the lines of orthodox neoclassicism (individualism, rationality, full information, equilibrium), sometimes blurring the boundaries of mainstream and heterodoxy. Economic sociology should take these changes into account and look out for possible collaborations.