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.
prevailing ethical codes, social mores and political regulation, for ‘markets’ constrain as well as enable. The social and political dimensions of market processes – inequality, fairness, power, uncertainty,
status – all influence the range and nature of what takes place in the market
context. More deeply still, the acceptance of market processes and the rhetoric with which they are described and assessed tell us a great deal about different kinds of market society.
The rhetoric, discourses and doctrine of the market
In the middle of the twentiethcentury, a substantial
twentiethcentury. That political dominance by parties, ideologies and policies
Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde
of New Right provenance coincided with increasing inequalities in income
within the nation states of the Western world, strikingly so in the USA and
Britain, should come as no surprise. Indeed, for Marshall (1950), it was precisely the tendencies of markets to generate material inequalities that called
forth welfare provision which might give each citizen sufficient resources to
participate fully in social life. Parallel inequalities conceived on a global
and commercial actors both as problems and as opportunities, and, in devising strategies for managing them, those actors also intensify them. The
potential destabilisation of social objects is both an inescapable condition of
economic action and a way of reconceptualising business strategy. It has been
a central axiom of management discourse since the mid-twentiethcentury
(for example, the works of Peter Drucker) that businesses must not try to sell
to consumers what they make, but rather to make what the consumer wants.
We interpret this as reflecting a transition
Open systems and regional innovation: the
resurgence of Route 128 in Massachusetts
Michael H. Best
The Boston area has the highest concentration of colleges and universities,
research institutes and hospitals of any place in the world. The plethora
of graduate research programmes suggested that the industrial future of
Massachusetts was secure in the emerging knowledge economy of the late
However, the research intensity of the region has not insulated the state
from the vicissitudes of the business cycle. For example, after
regulation and the non-formal norms of competition occurring in relatively stable, often quite long-term, market formations.
To illustrate this multi-dimensionality, and the process of de-institution and
re-institution of different forms of competition, discussion now turns to the
effects of the changes in the UK food retailing market.
UK supermarkets and changing forms of competition19
During the course of the twentiethcentury, UK multiple retailers have
grown from having roughly ten per cent of the market share of the food
market to over 85 per cent. In a first phase
On the complexities and limits
of market organisation
Richard R. Nelson
The close of the twentiethcentury 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. For-profit firms are
the vehicle of production and provision. Given what suppliers offer, free
choice on the part of customers, who decide on the basis of their own knowledge and preferences where to spend