Developments in Major Fields of Economics
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 12: Economic sociology
Economic sociology is the study of economic activity considered as a set of social events related to other dimensions of social life, such as family, gender, morals, law, and politics. The history of economic sociology is deeply intertwined with the history of political economy, as a scientific endeavour and as an academic discipline. When the social sciences were not divided into separate provinces and disciplines were not institutionalized, there was no reason for an “economic sociology” to exist. Accordingly, one finds a mix of economic and sociological approaches – as we now understand these domains – within the work of major economists of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the ongoing process of specialization within the social sciences changed the situation toward the end of the nineteenth century and then economic sociology began to appear explicitly, either as a sub-discipline of political economy or as a challenge to economics. This tension remains after more than a century of difficult and sometimes fruitful relations between economists and sociologists.
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