This sample Culture and Economy Research Paper is published for educational and informational purposes only. Like other free research paper examples it is not a custom research paper. If you need help with writing your assignment, please use research paper writing services and buy a research paper on any topic.
The research paper begins by providing the definitions of economy and culture, and then reviews classical sociologists’ contributions to the topic. Next, we distinguish between two approaches. The first one uses culture as a starting point of inquiry, and examines the production and distribution of cultural objects and corporate and market culture. The second approach focuses on explaining economic phenomena through an examination of the regulatory and constitutive effects of culture on them, including in spheres of production, consumption, and economic development and globalization. In the second of these two approaches, conceptual differences are made between considering culture as part of the context that shapes economic outcomes and examining culture as constitutive of economic processes. Understanding economics as a cultural system and performativity of economic theories is also discussed.
- Economy, Culture, Defined
- Classics on Culture and Economy Connection
- Culture in Markets
- Market Culture
- Cultural Embeddedness of Economic Organization and Production
- Culture and Consumption
- Cultural Understandings of Price and Value
- Culture, Development, and Globalization
- Economics and Economic Theory as Cultural Forms
Economy, Culture, Defined
Economy is “that complex of activities which is concerned with the production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of scarce goods and services” (Smelser and Swedberg, 2005: p. 3). Culture can be defined as “symbolic vehicles of meaning, including beliefs, ritual practices, art forms, and ceremonies, as well as informal cultural practices such as language, gossip, stories, and rituals of daily life” (Swidler, 1986: p. 273). DiMaggio (1994: p. 28) calls for an analytic distinction between forms of culture that are “characteristically constitutive (categories, scripts, conceptions of agency, notions of technique) and forms that are predominantly regulatory (norms, values, routines).”
Given the breadth of instantiations of both culture and economy, an inquiry into their relationship implies a great variety of possible venues for research. In this research paper, we limit our survey to two broad approaches. The first one uses culture as a starting point of inquiry, and examines the production and distribution of cultural objects, cultural industries, corporate cultures, and broad characterizations of how economic principles penetrate contemporary zeitgeist. The second approach uses economy as a starting point of inquiry, and focuses on how culture influences economic production, organization, consumption, pricing/valuation, and macrolevel development and globalization. Following DiMaggio’s (1994) analytic distinction, we point to conceptual differences in considering culture as part of the context that shapes economic outcomes from that of examining culture as mutually constitutive of the economy, including the role of economic theory and the discipline of economics in this construction process.
Classics on Culture and Economy Connection
Even if sociology classics paid most attention to the changing economic conditions of modern society brought about by the industrial revolution, they have all, to varying degrees, discussed the relationship of these economic developments to culture. Karl Marx emphasized the material relations of capitalist production, or the material base, as determining of “the superstructure,” or forms of social consciousness. Weber and Durkheim argued for a greater autonomy of culture and its independent influence on economic outcomes. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber wrote about the influence of religious worldviews on economic pursuits. For instance, a believer in ascetic Protestantism is driven by a desire to be saved and a belief that meticulous and hard work in the secular sphere represents a means of salvation, and success in the secular sphere symbolizes to others one’s place within the elect. In Economy and Society, Weber defined economic action as social action to emphasize that economic action is behavior invested with meaning that is oriented to some other actor, emphasizing both meaning making and relationality in economic exchange. Emile Durkheim argued that members of a society share a collective consciousness, or an agreed upon system of morals, values, and symbols. He pointed to the noncontractual basis of contracts as a prime example of how economic behavior relies upon this collective consciousness: the normative expectations of society inform how contracts are conceived and respected and thereby facilitate and legitimate contracts beyond their terms. Further pointing to the moral foundations of economic behavior, in his Professional Ethics and Civil Morals, Durkheim placed religious beliefs affirmed through ritual practices at the basis of the inalienability of property and as motivation for upholding contracts. Previewing sociological study of consumption, Veblen used a concept of conspicuous consumption to describe consumption practices of luxury goods, which was wasteful and served as public display of social status, thereby treating consumption more as a signaling process than a fulfillment of needs. Last but not least, Karl Polanyi provided a classic statement on the creation of laissez– faire markets emphasizing not only the importance of state institutions in that process but also the role of liberal creed, or the ideas of economic liberalism, which came to dominate public discussions about how economy should be organized.
Culture in Markets
One major strand of research interrogating a relationship between culture and economy takes culture as the starting point of analysis and locates it in various aspects of the economy, from production of culture to cultural industries to corporate cultures. We review these in turn.
The production of culture perspective has focused on the following six facets that influence the creation and dissemination of cultural objects (Peterson and Anand, 2004). First, law and regulation determine who controls what can be produced, or whether equal access to producers is assured. These regulations constrain or expand the range of symbolic elements produced. Second, technological innovation allows for communication and offers new openings for expression. Third, industry structure focuses upon processes of institutionalization, specifically at the field level. For instance, some cultural fields are dominated by very few, large firms, which offer a limited range of cultural products, whereas others have many, small firms offering a large range of objects. Fourth, differing organizational structures are variously suited to explore, support, create, and change different systems of symbolic production. Fifth, producers of culture have career trajectories and how their careers are situated within a field matters for their activity. Finally, the production of cultural objects needs to consider the market, mostly in the ways in which consumer tastes are channeled into market demand. Once new cultural goods markets are created, subsequent producers often tailor their creation to resemble already existing popular goods, also using measurement tools such as billboard charts for music or blockbuster ranking of movies that themselves structure the field of cultural production (Peterson and Anand, 2004).
A second way of investigating cultural objects in markets is to focus on cultural industries. Substantial work on this topic stemming from the humanities is linked to the critical theory of Adorno and Horkheimer and the incorporation of cultural industries into the commercial nexus of capitalism to function as ideological instruments with deceptive nature. Sociologist Paul Hirsch’s (1972) reformulations reduce the politicized reading of the industries under question and instead focus upon the organizations, central to the processes of the creation, production, and supply of cultural items. Hirsch places emphasis on both inter- and intraorganizational coordination and competition, such as recruiting of new creators via ‘contact men.’ Ashley Mears’ (2011) research on the models in the fashion industry, for instance, highlights the central role of brokers, or gatekeepers, who discover ‘the right look,’ develop it, and package it as a prized commodity. Patrik Aspers’ (2010) study of the global high-fashion garment industry zeroes in on how order is maintained across the various interconnected retailer, producer, and credit market organization. He also suggests an analytical distinction between status markets and standard markets. In status markets, order depends on the identities of participating actors, such as global branded garment retailers, while in standard markets the quality of goods takes precedence.
Another take on culture in markets is to examine corporate cultures or organizational cultures more generally. Edgar Schein (1990: p. 111) defines organizational culture as “(1) a pattern of basic assumptions, (2) invented, discovered, or developed by a given group, (3) as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, (4) that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore (5) is to be taught to new members as the (6) correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” Calvin Morrill (1995) shows how even the styles managers use to handle conflict in corporations is a part of corporate culture, which, Morrill finds, is heavily influenced by the hierarchical (or not) nature of the company’s organizational structure. Given that scholarly research on corporate culture was accompanied by the focus of business practitioners on building strong cultures, Gideon Kunda’s (2006) ethnography of an engineering division of a large American high-tech corporation provides a sobering call. Kunda examined managerial efforts to create corporate culture that promotes informal and flexible work environment to stimulate creativity and personal growth only to find that these pervasive efforts at culture building function as a form of control to which engineers responded with irony and distancing. Reflecting the observation of the increasingly important role of financial markets in contemporary world, several excellent studies also uncover the culture of Wall Street. Mitchell Abolafia’s (1996) ethnography of Wall Street traders revealed the socially constructed nature of opportunism, hyperrationality, and heightened materialism, and the structural contexts that sustain them. A decade later, Karen Ho (2009) participant observed with investment bankers to expose how Wall Street culture fashions them to be “readily liquidated in the pursuit of stock price appreciation” as they, personally, “no longer benefit at all (or even suffer) when the corporation makes a profit” (p. 3).
Interested in the culture/economy interplay, a body of research performs a twist on a study of corporate culture to show how its economic logic of rationality, market and, most recently, finance has penetrated society as a whole, to become a prevalent way of how people make sense of their lives. George Ritzer (1993) developed the influential idea of the McDonaldization of society, arguing that the organizational innovations championed by the McDonalds corporation have come to define how contemporary society is run outside of the corporate world, and spilling over, for instance, to health care, education, tourism, and criminal justice. While the emphasis on efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control through automation seems to go hand in hand with Weberian rationalization and bureaucratization of the world, Ritzer, as did Weber, also warns of irrationality of rationality, especially its dehumanizing nature. Similarly interested in pinpointing the shifts in contemporary business culture, Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello (2007) examined French management texts from the 1960s and the 1990s to identify a ‘new spirit of capitalism,’ as labeled in the book’s title. This new spirit advocates selfmanagement and versatility in the workplace, and sees managers as coaches who get the workers to do what is needed by convincing them that the firm’s interests are also their own interests. The normative order upon which this kind of capitalism rests is that of connections and networks, and a successful actor is one with plentiful contacts, flexibility, and mobility.
An increasingly vigorous line of inquiry has also been preoccupied with the contemporary rise of market fundamentalism, or a belief in “the moral superiority of organizing all dimensions of social life according to market principles” (Somers and Block, 2005: p. 261). Margaret Somers and Fred Block (2005) coin the term ‘ideational embeddedness’ to explain how market fundamentalist ideas have radically transformed our knowledge culture. The concept is used to capture that the economy is embedded within the ‘ideas, public narratives, and explanatory systems’ that serve to create the necessary conditions for certain ways of organizing the economy to be normalized. The authors compare two cases of welfare revolutions in England and in the United States, in different historical periods, which were both preceded by the ‘triumph of market fundamentalism as a new ideational authority,’ but otherwise exemplified difference on every other significant explanatory factor. In their account, culture in the form of ideas is not only a part of the context in which economic processes are inserted but also a causal influence in constituting market outcomes.
In the wake of financial crises of 2008, scholars also turned to examining financialization as a major driver of societal transformation. Gerald Davis (2009) argues that finance has come to take center stage and reshaped how corporations and individuals behave. In this finance-centered system, the overriding concern of corporations is not productive activity but shareholder value, and individuals come to increasingly rely on financial markets, not employment in corporations, for security and wealth creation. Overall, this and similar research implies that pursuit of financial profit and self-interest is the order of the day. However, a cultural analysis of how ‘economic interest’ becomes a collective representation is actually lacking. Here, Lyn Spillman’s (2012) work makes important headway by studying how economic interest is defined by American trade associations. Unlike typical characterizations, Spillman finds that both market and nonmarket relations are central to the business world. Far from being simply cutthroat, business associations develop shared ideas about collective interests and solidarity, and, overall, make business meaningful.
Cultural Embeddedness of Economic Organization and Production
Much of the understanding of organizational processes of production is influenced by sociological neoinstitutionalism, an early cultural perspective on organizations, which hones in on how people’s actions are motivated by cultural norms, habit, and routine. Sociological neoinstitutionalism sees actors embedded in broad-scale contexts of meaning, which shape what is considered rational. Indeed, Meyer and Rowan (1977) argued that formal organizational structures are by-products of responding to commonly held ‘myths’ and engaging in ceremonial compliance. The neoinstitutional approach has given rise to an inquiry into how organizational fields are structured and a focus on institutional logics of action within industries that provide a guide to how decisions are made within companies. For instance, in her study of print industry, Patricia Thorton (2004) focused on how an institutional logic within the industry shifted from one focused on editorial issues to one focused on market issues. While before talk of profits was shunned and one went into business for the love of authors and books, in the 1980s, the institutional logic began to change with market channels and market positions becoming more of a concern and the basis on which executives were hired and promoted.
Referring to ‘conceptions of control,’ Fligstein (2001) captures a common understanding among economic actors about what works to make money. Conceptions of control are not just cognitive frameworks but they also define the relationships between producers, consumers, employees, managers, owners, and governments. Fligstein traces the change from the production conception to the sales and marketing conception and then to finance control. The late 1980s have seen a rise of the shareholder conception of control, which focused managerial attention on short-term profits and on making balance sheets look good to financial analysts, which would in turn be more likely to recommend the company stock and therefore enhance the shareholder value.
While studies highlighting the different cultural organization of the economy mostly focus on established markets, in an exemplary cultural analysis of economy, Richard Biernacki (1995) asks how the basic element of productive activity in capitalism, labor, is transformed into a commodity. Biernacki focuses on the diverging cultural definitions of labor as a commodity in Britain and Germany. He traces these understandings to on-the-ground practices by workers and employers in the wool textile mills during the nineteenth century, which were very similar economically and technologically but starkly different in terms of in-the-shop practices. Biernacki points to how the cultural definitions became codified in the political economy writings of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, which solidified them as distinct principles that would come to shape various outcomes, including how workers employed strike and protest, the kind of disciplinary techniques used in factories, and, in fact, susceptibility to Marxist analysis of exploitation.
Providing a cultural perspective on industrial policy formation, Frank Dobbin’s (1994) now classic study of the railroad industry in the United States, France, and Britain in the nineteenth century showcases the elective affinity between political culture and economic organization in these countries. Dobbin argues that the principle of political order found in each country was translated into a principle of industrial order. He lays out how the nineteenth-century United States was organized as competing communities under a weak federal superstructure. In France, a strong central state dominated and coordinated private life, and in Britain, the emphasis was put on autonomous individuals with representation in Parliament. These distinct political cultures each left a mark on the economic organization of railroads in these three countries. In the United States, the railroad industrial policy situated economic sovereignty at first in community governments, and later in a market arbitrated by the federal government. In France, the central state oversaw industrial policy, while in Britain the policy placed sovereignty in individual firms.
Culture and Consumption
Sociological investigations of consumer markets have regularly yielded clear insight into how culture and economy intertwine. A classic perspective on the topic is that of Pierre Bourdieu (1984) and his discussion of taste and cultural capital. Bourdieu has shown that the tastes that people have for different goods and activities, such as food, arts, or houses, are not a result of innate individualistic choices but depend on people’s cultural capital, or proficiency in discerning what are considered to be more prestigious cultural goods or high-status signals. A focus on cultural capital suggests that tastes are socially conditioned. Moreover, consumption choices made are not merely to assert who one wants to be but rather to distinguish one from the others, given that consumption reflects a symbolic hierarchy determined and maintained by the dominant classes in society, whose interest is in keeping the social distance or, distinction, from other classes. For Bourdieu, taste is therefore not only determinant of consumption practices but also a social weapon for preserving power.
Viviana Zelizer (2005) develops a more meaning-driven, yet still relational, insight into the processes of culture and consumption within the economy. For Zelizer, the act of consumption in markets is not simply the end process of production and distribution, nor is it merely a momentary site of acquisition. Rather, consumption has within it “the negotiation of meaning, the transformation of relations in the course of economic interaction, and the social process of valuation itself” (p. 351). These processes highlight that the ties between producer, seller, and consumer must be investigated for their content; that these ties are constantly (re)negotiated, and not set in a power hierarchy; and that proper understandings of consumption must also focus on use and not only on acquisition of commodities.
In their review of the culture and consumption topic, Zukin and Maguire (2004) emphasize that large-scale changes in cultural understandings inform consumption practices, especially in relation to processes of individualization and collective identity. This links to an important theme of commodification. From a critical theory perspective, the spread of markets facilitates commodification because it makes everything available for sale, and therefore voids objects of any meaningful content, reducing them to one common denominator, market price. Cultural economic sociologists have countered this position on commodification, which reinforces the assumption that culture and economy are two separate spheres, whereby the introduction of monetization and marketization contaminates meaningful social relations. In contrast, culture and economy are intertwined and function as connected worlds rather than separate spheres. People use money to differentiate social relationships of various kinds and use different types of payments (compensation, gifts, or entitlements) to affirm, rather than corrupt, the meaning of a particular relation (Zelizer, 2010).
Likewise, recent work on exchange of human blood and organs, or other ‘contested commodities’ (Radin, 2001) asserts that the crux of the problem is not merely to allow or prevent the exposure to the market, but that market relations already coexist with their circulation in various ways. In fact, Kieran Healy (2006) shows that blood and organs are not given everywhere in the same way or to the same extent. That is because, Healy claims, donations do not simply depend on individual gestures of altruism but are structured by the contexts for donations. Specifically, procurement organizations play an important role in sustaining donation by providing structural opportunities to give and by producing cultural accounts of what giving means. Similarly, on examining the medical market for eggs and sperm, Rene Almeling (2011) finds that commodification of bodily goods does not result in uniform meanings, or lack thereof. Even if both men and women are paid for their donations, Almeling finds that clinics encourage sperm donors to think of the money they receive as payment for a job, while women are urged to regard egg donation in feminine terms, as a precious gift that one woman can bestow on another.
Cultural Understandings of Price and Value
A vigorous line of cultural economic sociology focuses on the cultural preconditions of pricing and value. Viviana Zelizer (2010) is the preeminent contributor to this scholarship with her historical analyses of the changing valuation of life and children. In Pricing the Priceless Child, a study of the changing economic value of children, Zelizer accounts for the cultural transformation from viewing children as economic contributors to family welfare, to increasing valuation of children as priceless, and sacred, and removed from the economic sphere. In her analysis of putting a price on life as in development of life insurance, Zelizer shows the opposite trend. She begins by describing a strong moral antagonism against life insurance in the nineteenth-century United States, because mixing the sacred value of human life with the profane sphere of money is seen as blasphemous, and these cultural obstacles prevent the market for life insurance to grow. Only when life insurance is reframed as a loving act of caretaking, and therefore aligned with the moral convictions of customers regarding the sacredness of life, can the market proliferate. Cheris Shun-ching Chan (2012) conducts a similar analysis by investigating how the market for life insurance developed in postsocialist China. Chan begins with a puzzle about how companies could sell life insurance in a country where death is a taboo subject, and explores how foreign and domestic companies negotiated local cultural resistance to facilitate market growth.
The cultural perspective on price has also been applied to esthetic markets. Olav Velthuis (2005) analyzed the strategies gallery owners use to price contemporary art in New York and Amsterdam. Far from reducing an esthetic object to a mere number, Velthuis reveals the moral significance of prices and meaning making that goes into their construction. He portrays gallery owners not as profit maximizers but as members and supporters of the art world who follow the conventions of their professional community and price art according to distinct kinds of narratives. A high price may indicate not only the quality of a work but also the identity and status of collectors along with that of the gallery and gallerists. Dealers might raise prices quickly for an artist who they consider to be a superstar, or more gradually in other cases, framing it as prudence in decision making. Velthuis reveals how prices operate as a symbolic system akin to language.
Frederick Wherry (2008) also emphasizes that prices are not culturally neutral but he interestingly points to an intersection of meaning attribution with identity and social location of the purchaser. For Wherry, prices are used to compare the qualities of differently situated people, those near to, as opposed to those far from, the mainstream. Based on this distance dimension, consumers are characterized as foolish, faithful, frivolous, or frugal. These categories are consequential for societal assessments about what differently characterized consumers deserve. Such considerations preview increasing attention in the literature to the broadly defined notions of worth and value, its social construction, evaluative practices, and regimes of worth (Lamont, 2012). Jens Beckert and Patrik Aspers (2011) bring together a group of economic sociologists who tackle the question of how the worth of goods is established, building on the work of scholars like Charles Smith (1989) who pioneered the study on the social construction of value using auctions as his research site. Beckert and Aspers make a point that “for products to be sold in markets, customers must value them and assess their value in relation to other products. Firms must produce products and position them in the market where customers will consider them valuable. Financial investors must assess the value of assets through judgments of the opportunities and risks involved” (p. 3). Valuing goods is therefore central to all aspects of economic life. Examining the cultural underpinnings of valuation and evaluation helps hone in on how moral values and cultural practices influence economic value.
Culture, Development, and Globalization
Last but not least, culture and economy interplay has been explored at the macrolevel in an investigation of economic cultures that vary across nations. From a social psychological perspective, Geert Hofstede (2001) developed a theory of cultural dimensions, which identifies several dimensions of culture that influence work behavior (and other outcomes). These dimensions include power distance (from low to high), individualism vs collectivism, tolerance or avoidance of uncertainty and ambiguity, masculinity vs femininity, and long- vs short-term orientation. Hofstede developed his model from data compiled in a worldwide survey of employee values in International Business Machines’ subsidiaries across the world in the 1960s and 1970s, and his work has been widely influential in social psychology and business and management studies that examine cross-national differences on various economy-related outcomes.
From a constructivist perspective, sociologists have argued that different national contexts are distinguished by different cultural logics of action. For instance, Nicole Biggart and Mauro Guillen (1999) compared auto industry in four nations, South Korean, Taiwan, Spain, and Argentina to propose that economic development depends on how a country’s institutionalized patterns of authority and organization – which legitimize certain actors and certain relationships among those actors – are linked to the opportunities in a global market. Different actors, such as states, business networks, small businesses, or families, will be considered as more or less legitimate players in different countries, and this and other collective understanding and cultural practices will contribute to different organizing logics of economy. The power of institutional logic of actions is such that “economic and managerial practices and actions not consistent with the institutional logic of society, even if they are abstractly ‘better’ or ‘more efficient,’ are not readily recognized and incorporated” (p. 726). Therefore, the strategies for capital accumulation or any other economic policy that succeed in one country may not be a good fit with the preexisting organization of another country. As such, the course of development and the policies that enable it should build on the institutionalized logics rather than uniform global strategies.
With a different take on the role of culture for development, Nina Bandelj and Frederick Wherry (2011) propose an inquiry into the ‘cultural wealth of nations’ that exposes how firms located in particular places find themselves at an advantage relative to firms in other places by virtue of the symbolic resources they have at their disposal. These symbolic resources include collective narratives, reputations, status, and ideas. A variety of state and private actors are involved in creating narratives, staging social performances, and managing a country’s reputations in a global market so as to, for instance, attract world tourists or inflows of foreign investment and therefore further national economic development. Authors also warn that conversion of cultural capital to economic capital at the level of countries is not a seamless process, and one size does not fit all. Nevertheless, creating and deploying cultural wealth, not only industrial progress, represents a viable strategy of economic prosperity for developing countries in a globalized world.
When considering globalization and the interplay of culture and economy, Ritzer (2003: pp. 193–195) makes a distinction between glocalization and grobalization, where grobalization denotes the ‘imperialistic ambitions’ of corporations and other entities to see their power and profits grow at a global scale, resulting in ‘proliferation of nothing,’ or ‘social forms devoid of substantive content.’ This contrasts with glocalization, or ‘the interpenetration of global and local, resulting in unique outcomes in different geographic areas,’ and proliferation of ‘something.’ To understand global culture and economy, we also need to take into account a vast literature on world society (Meyer et al., 1997), which claims that, over a century, the world has constituted a single world polity with a corresponding world culture, carried by international nongovernmental organizations promoting universalism, individualism, rational progress, and world citizenship (Boli and Thomas, 1997). While the majority of research in this field examines environmental, educational, and political outcomes, a handful of studies showcase the promise of this type of inquiry for understanding economic phenomena. For example, Henisz et al. (2005) examine how world society theory can help us understand why countries differ in the extent to which they adopt market-oriented reforms and find that international pressures of coercion, normative emulation, and competitive mimicry strongly influence domestic economic policy. More recently, Lim and Tsutsui (2012) found that ties to world culture strongly predicted whether corporations adopt corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Economics and Economic Theory as Cultural Forms
In the final section, we discuss research that intimately couples the economy and culture by understanding the discipline of economics and economic theory as cultural forms. In a major statement, Marion Fourcade (2009) studies economics as a discipline and profession in the United States, Britain, and France to understand how national cultures inform the understanding of economics as an object of analysis as well as economists as a category of knowledge. Fourcade brings attention to the differing ways in which economists conceptualize problems and practices in economic functioning across the three national contexts. She situates her arguments within three levels of understanding: the political bases of economic order, the cultural bases of institutional orders, and knowledge production dependence on local context. The study is also insightful about the difference in the kind of economic policies favored by economists in different nations. In Britain, the discipline of economics developed out of a political culture that valued small, cohesive societies that exerted much influence over the genesis of national policy. In France, economics was shaped by the administrative exercise of public power. In the United States, it was the dominance of market institutions that contributed to the success of economists in influencing society and policy.
Economists are also increasingly seen as cultural agents who theorize the markets they then subsequently come to create. Donald MacKenzie and Yuval Milo (2003) showed how the now-famous Black-Scholes model for pricing options became incorporated into actual prices of options on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange floor. This work is exemplary of the research in ‘performativity’ of economics, which, following Michel Callon’s (1998) influential statement, seeks to show how economic theory creates the reality in its image, as opposed to simply describing – more or less accurately – an external reality that is not affected by the theory. Often the focus of this research, firmly grounded in the social studies of finance, is the role of sociotechnical tools in performing financial markets.
By considering economic objects (including markets, economists and economic theory) as cultural objects, an analysis of the interplay between culture and economy is a far cry from common assumptions that the two are separate spheres with little in common. As we hoped to make evident in this brief review, a growing and vigorous strand of scholarship continually counters the long-held views that some economic phenomena are more cultural than others, and that some more ‘standard’ economic processes, such as those located in corporations, markets, and finance, leave little or no room for culture. Indeed, relatively recently, cultural economic sociology that envisions culture and economy as mutually constitutive domains has proliferated in a field that before long was dominated by structural analyses. Vigorous interest in the constitutive role of culture in economy points to its promise in answering some vexing questions presented to us during turbulent economic times.
- Abolafia, Mitchel, 1996. Making Markets: Opportunism and Restraint on Wall Street. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Almeling, Rene, 2011. Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
- Aspers, Patrik, 2010. Orderly Fashion: A Sociology of Markets. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
- Bandelj, Nina, Wherry, Frederick (Eds.), 2011. The Cultural Wealth of Nations. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.
- Beckert, Jens, Aspers, Patrik (Eds.), 2011. The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
- Biernacki, Richard, 1995. The Fabrication of Labor: Germany and Britain, 1640–1914. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
- Biggart, Nicole W., Guillen, Mauro F., 1999. Developing difference: social organization and the rise of the auto industries of South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Argentina. American Sociological Review 64 (5), 722–747.
- Boli, John, Thomas, George M., 1997. World culture in the world polity: a century of international non-governmental organizations. American Sociological Review 62 (2), 171–190.
- Boltanski, Luc, Chiapello, Eve, 2007. The New Spirit of Capitalism (G. Elliott, Trans.). Verso, London, UK.
- Bourdieu, Pierre, 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (R. Nice, Trans.). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Callon, Michel, 1998. The embeddedness of economic markets in economics. In: Callon, Michel (Ed.), The Laws of Markets. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
- Chan, Cheris Shun-Ching, 2012. Marketing Death: Culture and the Making of a Life Insurance Market in China. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
- Davis, Gerald F., 2009. Managed by the Market: How Finance Re-Shaped the Market. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
- DiMaggio, Paul, 1994. Culture and economy. In: Smelser, N., Swedberg, R. (Eds.), The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, pp. 27–57.
- Dobbin, Frank, 1994. Forging Industrial Policy: The United States, Britain, and France in the Railway Age. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.
- Fligstein, Neil, 2001. The Architecture of Markets: An Economic Sociology of Twentyfirst- Century Capitalist Societies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
- Fourcade, Marion, 2009. Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain and France, 1890s–1990s. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
- Healy, Kieran, 2006. Last Best Gifts: Altruism and the Market for Human Blood and Organs. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
- Henisz, Witold J., Zelner, Bennet A., Guillén, Mauro F., 2005. The worldwide diffusion of market-oriented infrastructure reform. American Sociological Review 70 (6), 871–897.
- Hirsch, Paul M., 1972. Processing fads and fashion: an organization-set analysis of cultural industry systems. American Journal of Sociology 77 (4), 639–659.
- Ho, Karen, 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.
- Hofstede, Geert, 2001. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
- Kunda, Gideon, 2006. Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA.
- Lamont, Michele, 2012. Toward a comparative sociology of valuation and evaluation. Annual Review of Sociology 38, 201–221.
- Lim, Alwyn, Tsutsui, Kiyoteru, 2012. Globalization and commitment in corporate social responsibility: cross-national analyses of institutional and political-economy effects. American Sociological Review 77 (1), 69–98.
- MacKenzie, Donald, Millo, Yuval, 2003. Constructing a market, performing theory: the historical sociology of a financial derivatives exchange. American Journal of Sociology 109 (1), 107–145.
- Mears, Ashley, 2011. Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
- Meyer, John W., Boli, John, Thomas, George M., Ramirez, Francisco O., 1997. World society and the Nation-state. American Journal of Sociology 103 (1), 144–181.
- Meyer, John W., Rowan, Brian, 1977. Institutionalized organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology 83, 340–363.
- Morrill, Calvin, 1995. The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations. Chicago University Press, Chicago, IL.
- Peterson, Richard A., Anand, Narasimhan, 2004. The production of culture perspective. Annual Review of Sociology 30, 311–334.
- Radin, Margaret J., 2001. Contested Commodities: The Trouble with Trade in Sex, Children, Body Parts, and Other Things. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Ritzer, George, 1993. The McDonaldization of Society. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA.
- Ritzer, George, 2003. Rethinking globalization: glocalization/grobalization and something/ nothing. Sociological Theory 21 (3), 193–209.
- Schein, Edgar H., 1990. Organizational culture. American Psychologist 45 (2), 109–119.
- Smelser, Neil, Swedberg, Richard (Eds.), 2005. The Handbook of Economic Sociology, second ed. Princeton University Press, NJ.
- Smith, Charles W., 1989. Auctions: The Social Construction of Value. Free Press, New York, NY.
- Somers, Margaret, Block, Fred, 2005. From poverty to perversity: ideas, markets, and institutions over 200 Years of welfare debate. American Sociological Review 70, 260–287.
- Spillman, Lyn, 2012. Solidarity in Strategy: Making Business Meaningful in American Trade Associations. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
- Swidler, Ann, 1986. Culture in action: symbols and strategies. American Sociological Review 51 (2), 273–286.
- Thornton, Patricia H., 2004. Markets from Culture: Institutional Logics and Organizational Decisions in Higher Education Publishing. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.
- Velthuis, Olav, 2005. Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
- Wherry, Frederick, 2008. The social characterizations of price: the fool, the faithful, the frivolous, and the frugal. Sociological Theory 26 (4), 363–379.
- Zelizer, Viviana, 2005. Culture and consumption. In: Smelser, N.J., Swedberg, R. (Eds.), The Handbook of Economic Sociology, second ed. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, pp. 345–368.
- Zelizer, Viviana, 2010. Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes Economy. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
- Zukin, Sharon, Maguire, Jennifer Smith, 2004. Culture and consumption. Annual Review of Sociology 30, 173–197.