By Alan Aldridge
Features of The Market:
- Concise introduction to the sociology of the market for upper-level undergraduates.
- Covers relevant debates on market forms, social theories and critiques of markets, market failure, aspects of market behaviour, market ideologies, and the ‘marketisation’ of other sectors of social and public life.
- Offers an even-handed treatment of this much-debated topic.
- Concepts and arguments are clearly explained, and theoretical treatments are offset by examples from specific market contexts.
The Market addresses one of the most controversial answers to the question, ‘how is social order possible?’ Ever since Adam Smith conceived the idea of an ‘invisible hand’, advocates of the market have argued that social cohesion, material prosperity and political vitality are best achieved not by central control and planning but by laissez-faire – the policy of non-intervention.
In this book, Alan Aldridge guides readers through the complex interplay between analysis, description and ideology that characterizes social theorizing on the market. A distinctive feature of The Market is its emphasis on the role of culture in shaping the social reality of markets as perceived and experienced by people participating in them. Ideologies examined include:
- Market fundamentalism – the conviction that free markets are universally beneficial
- Market populism – the assertion that the free market reflects the democratic will of the people
- Economic ‘man’ – the notion that the main motive of our actions is to maximize our personal advantage
- Globalism – the claim by neo-liberals that the global expansion of markets is irresistible, making political action irrelevant
The Market will be essential reading for students and researchers interested in the sociology of economic life, economic sociology and political economy.
"Aldridge's perspective on the market as an empirical phenomenon and an analytical challenge is what might be called balanced; as he states in the closing sentence of the book - 'markets are a necessary but not a sufficient condition of attaining the good society'. [...] is a highly successful, well-written effort to convey that a serious engagement with the breadth of market-related issues requires of social scientists a willingness to confront layers of social, political, economic - and especially, cultural - intricacies, implications, and contradictions. It is more an account and critical discussion of classical as well as more recent contributions to the sociology of markets than an in-depth examination of any particular aspect of either markets or the role of the economy in today's world. [...] Since Aldridge did not set out to provide a 'theory' of markets, nor a theory of the spectrum of functions diverse concepts of 'market' play in the early twenty-first century (from sincerely analytical to blatantly ideological), the book is much more a survey of the multitude of relevant issues and concerns than integrated argument or consistent message."
About Alan Aldridge
At the time of publication, Alan Aldridge was Reader in the Sociology of Culture at the University of Nottingham.
Table of Contents
1. The rise of the market
Elements of market society / The invisible hand: social co-ordination without a co-ordinator / Freedom, liberalism and the market / Christian, civic republican and Marxian responses / The market as utopia and dystopia / The expansion of the market
2. Capitalism and the free market: success and failure
Market populism / The efficient market / Market fundamentalism / Public choice theory / Rational choice and instrumental rationality / Market failure / Denying market failure: in defence of monopoly / Market-based solutions: protecting the environment / Is and ought: the market as ideology
3. The social reality of markets
The problem of social order / A question of trust / Embeddedness, trust - and fraud / Abandoned markets, abandoned consumers / Human beings as rational actors / Freedom and autonomy / Money and monies / Primitive and modern economies / The 'problem' of culture
4. Colonization, compromise and resistance
Beck's critique of globalism / The globalization of nothing? Market socialism / The Third Way / In defence of practices / Promotional culture: the case of universities / The market experience