Economy and Society in Europe

Economy and Society in Europe

A Relationship in Crisis

Edited by Luigi Burroni, Maarten Keune and Guglielmo Meardi

While an economy is always ‘embedded’ in society, the relationship between the two is undergoing profound changes in Europe, resulting in widespread instability which is emphasised by the current crisis. This book analyses these changes, and in particular pressures of intensifying international competition, globalization and financialization within Europe.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Luigi Burroni, Maarten Keune and Guglielmo Meardi

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, labour policy


Luigi Burroni, Maarten Keune and Guglielmo Meardi THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ECONOMY AND SOCIETY One of the classical ways in which the social sciences have studied the emergence and consolidation of capitalism has been through the analysis of the relationships between social institutions and economic institutions. As a pioneer in this respect, Max Weber contributed two major insights. One is the importance of individual beliefs, evidenced by the effects of the Calvinist version of protestant ethics on entrepreneurial attitudes. The other is the relevance of associations, demonstrated by the analysis of the relationship between the development of capitalism and the presence of protestant sects in American society. Religious beliefs and religious associations for Weber constituted crucial factors that underline the deep social and institutional roots of economic development processes (Weber 1978). Karl Polanyi, building on these insights, showed that the market, often seen as the economic coordination mechanism par excellence, is only one of the mechanisms regulating economic exchanges. Other such mechanisms include redistribution, including a key role for the state, and community relations, with the community playing a fundamental regulating role also in contemporary societies (Polanyi 1957). And also Albert Hirschmann underlined how the analysis of social variables like exit and voice has important explanatory power in the study of the functioning of economic phenomena and relationships (Hirschmann 1970). The relationship between economy and society has been important also in more recent work by, for example, Mark Granovetter or Margaret Grieco, who show how the workings of the labour market...