There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market and the competitive process in particular. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. This book explores this interface in a number of ways, looking at the competitive process and market relations from a number of different perspectives. It considers the social role of economic institutions in society and examines the various meanings embedded in the word 'markets', as well as developing arguments on the nature of competition as an instituted economic process. The close of the twentieth century saw a virtual canonisation of markets as the best, indeed the only really effective, way to govern an economic system. The market organisation being canonised was simple and pure, along the lines of the standard textbook model in economics. The book discusses the concepts of polysemy , idealism, cognition, materiality and cultural economy. Michael Best provides an account of regional economic adaptation to changed market circumstances. This is the story of the dynamics of capitalism focused on the resurgence of the Route 128 region around Boston following its decline in the mid-1980s in the face of competition from Silicon Valley. The book also addresses the question of how this resurgence was achieved.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides a critical evaluation of the idea of the market as the definitive form of co-ordination and of the socially embedded nature of market processes. It explores the idea of competition as an instituted economic process. The book focuses on an empirical study of cultural industries in East London. It also explores the instituted arrangements constituting the 'peculiar economics' of professional sports. The book presents an analysis of the emergence of one particular market in the UK, that for computer software. It examines some of the conditions which resulted in the UK coming to specialise in services to client companies rather than the production of software packages for an arm's length market. The book also provides an account of regional economic adaptation to changed market circumstances.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in preceding chapters of this book. The book resides within a now-flourishing broader stream of ideas at the interface between economics and sociology. It contributes more to a sophisticated understanding of particular markets than they do to the theory of the general market system. Market activity implies that buyers and sellers are 'brought together' across time and space and that transactions are consummated and recorded. During the 1990s, sociological investigation of markets has tended to abandon earlier concerns with the social effects of the operation of markets and to concentrate instead on the social processes by which markets are made. As with the new economic sociology, evolutionary economists are wedded to a more sophisticated notion of individual behaviour than that embedded in the idea of Olympian rationality.