Advancing Socio-Economics: An Institutionalist Perspective

Table of Contents
Preface

Contributors Biographies

Part II On Institutions
Part III On Social Systems of Production-and Beyond

Part I On Socio-Economic Concepts and Methods    J. Rogers Hollingsworth, Karl H. Müller

The following chapters take several steps toward advancing some of the methods and concepts which are essential for the ordering of the field of socio-economics. In chapter 2, "On Multi-Level Analysis," J. Rogers Hollingsworth emphasizes the importance of recognizing that we are nested in a multi-spatial world made of the following levels: the global, the transnational region, the nation-state, the sub-national region, and the local. Each level constantly interacts with every other level, and if we are to understand the processes which take place in the world, it is imperative that we comprehend this level of complexity. It is true that in recent years, many analysts who write about the national and regional economies have recognized that these economies are nested in a multi-layered world (Hollingsworth and Boyer, 1997), but even so, most scholarship still proceeds as though each level is independent of the other. The failure to recognize that as individuals we are nested in a multi-level world is equally a serious problem as we reflect about the world of politics. Decisions about the quality of our own lives are constantly made at multiple levels, but our theories of democracy-and of governance generally-do not recognize this kind of nestedness. Indeed, our age requires a new theory of democracy which will take into consideration how citizens can have effective participation and representation at multiple levels of reality almost simultaneously. We believe socio-economics has a vital role to play in placing a multi-level analysis high on the research agenda of the social sciences.

In his very stimulating chapter 3, Amitai Etzioni lays out a paradigmatic framework for socio-economics. It is this core statement which shapes the relevance of all subsequent papers in this volume for the socio-economic agenda. While Etzioni defined the broad parameters of a socio-economic agenda in his book The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics (1988), this chapter is the clearest statement today of a paradigm of socio-economics. He points out that there are presently two paradigms in the social sciences, one centered around the "individual" with very clear normative and political consequences, and that is the neoclassical perspective. The other is the socio-economic one and is more centered around the "social." These two perspectives make quite different assumptions about our ability to reshape the world in which we live and how we might go about such a task. By sharpening the differences between these two, Etzioni helps to clear the path for building a richer socio-economics.

The Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) is a very eclectic scholarly organization, and one its main functions is to advance the scholarship on socio-economics. Robin Stryker in chapter 4 plots the future of both the field of socio-economics and the SASE. Her chapter resonates very much with most of the other chapters in this volume by emphasizing "institutionalism" as a key building block for socio-economics. Her chapter recognizes that the future of socio-economics is dependent on the capacity of individuals who have been trained in separate disciplines to find common terrain in which they can build on their common interests. And if we attempt to work and learn together across disciplines, we are more likely to build a better world than if we simply work within the confines of a single discipline or a narrow sub-specialty of a particular discipline. In the concluding chapter, Karl H. Müller discusses one of the most important concepts which has emerged within the field of socio-economics: embeddedness. Once we recognize that we are nested (i.e., embedded) in the kind of multi-level society which Hollingsworth discusses in chapter 2, we immediately recognize that individuals, organizations, communities, regions, nation-states, etc. are embedded in a larger social order, and hence we must attempt to understand and de-construct the meaning of the concept embeddedness. Müller undertakes the most extensive analysis of this concept which we have to date, and as a result of this kind of deconstruction of the concept embeddedness, it should now acquire greater precision in the literature. And with the advance which he has made in defining the concept, we should be able to use it more effectively to understand complex interactions at multiple levels of society.

Table of Contents
Preface

Contributors Biographies

Part II On Institutions
Part III On Social Systems of Production-and Beyond
Rogers Hollingsworth Homepage

Copyright © 2003 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
http://history.wisc.edu/hollingsworth/Advancing_Socio-economics_Intro_to_Part1_Socio-economic_Concepts_and_Methods.htm