Chapter 2: Society and economy: three easy ways to a complex relationship
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Throughout its exciting development, economic sociology has relied on three different influential rhetorical devices to deal with the relationship between society and economy: the rhetoric of extension, the rhetoric of context and the rhetoric of alternative. These three devices cut across the main approaches that populate contemporary economic sociology: the structural approach, the neo-institutional one, the historical sociology of economic processes, the organizational analysis and the comparative political economy. Neither in the model of extension nor in that of context does the intervention of social factors cast radical doubts on the role of parsimonious micro-level models and market exchange processes. On the contrary, in the rhetoric of alternative the introduction of society opens towards the endogenous variability of micro-level models and exchange systems, outlining scenarios in which ‘social molecules’ generate coupling and decoupling patterns where contexts, structures and individual actions interact and change together.

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