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The Market. Polity Key Concepts in the Social Sciences series

  • ID: 2250525
  • Book
  • August 2005
  • Region: Global
  • 196 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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The Market addresses one of the most controversial answers to the question, how is social order possible? Ever since Adam Smith conceived the idea of an invisible hand , advocates of the market have argued that social cohesion, material prosperity and political vitality are best achieved not by central control and planning but by laissez–faire the policy of non–intervention.

In this book, Alan Aldridge guides readers through the complex interplay between analysis, description and ideology that characterizes social theorizing on the market. A distinctive feature of The Market is its emphasis on the role of culture in shaping the social reality of markets as perceived and experienced by people participating in them.

Ideologies examined include:

Market fundamentalism the conviction that free markets are universally beneficial

Market populism the assertion that the free market reflects the democratic will of the people

Economic man the notion that the main motive of our actions is to maximize our personal advantage

Globalism the claim by neo–liberals that the global expansion of markets is irresistible, making political action irrelevant

The Market will be essential reading for students and researchers interested in the sociology of economic life, economic sociology and political economy.
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1. The rise of the market.

Elements of market society.

The invisible hand: social co–ordination without a co–ordinator.

Freedom, liberalism and the market.

Christian, civic republican and Marxian responses.

The market as utopia and dystopia.

The expansion of the market..

2. Capitalism and the free market: success and failure.

Market populism.

The efficient market.

Market fundamentalism.

Public choice theory.

Rational choice and instrumental rationality.

Market failure.

Denying market failure: in defence of monopoly.

Market–based solutions: protecting the environment.

Is and ought: the market as ideology..

3. The social reality of markets.

The problem of social order.

A question of trust.

Embeddedness, trust – and fraud.

Abandoned markets, abandoned consumers.

Human beings as rational actors.

Freedom and autonomy.

Money and monies.

Primitive and modern economies.

The 'problem' of culture..

4. Colonization, compromise and resistance.

Beck's critique of globalism.

The globalization of nothing? Market socialism.

The Third Way.

In defence of practices Promotional culture: the case of universities.

The market experience.


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"Aldridge writes with remarkable clairty and insight, surveying the rise of sociological ideas on marketisation, charting the political history of markets and analysing various responses across the social sciences ... [His] work is certainly likely to be widely read by students in economic sociology, political economy and social theory."

Professor Anthony Elliot, Department of Sociology, Kent University..

Clearly written and very readable, Aldridge s surveys a range of debates on the rise of the market, its advocates and critics, successes and failures, market ideologies and social values, globalization and the "marketization" of public life. The discussion is admirable in being both even–handed and critically sharp. Concepts and arguments are always clearly explained, and theoretical accounts are brought to life with numerous relevant examples. Dr Fran Tonkiss, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science..

Alan Aldridge has written a thoughtful book on the market and how it structures social activity. Amongst other things, his work rescues Adam Smith for Sociology and delinks him from those cruder rational choice theorists who have hijacked this complex thinker. The book will prove a useful teaching aid for any course examining the nature of markets and theories about them. Between this and his book on consumption, Aldridge is proving to be an insightful commentator on the issues of our time. Professor Gerard Hanlon, The Management Centre, University of Leicester.
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