11 Aug 2014

What is Economic Sociology?

(Max Weber)
Economic sociology, which was coined by William Stanley Jevons in the late 1800s, is used by many sociologists to examine how the processes of the economy affect the organisms of society and vice versa.

This field of study is broken up into two periods, classical and contemporary.

Thinkers of the classical period, which included sociologists such as Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Emile Durkheim, to name a few, mainly focused on the relationship between modernity, rationalization, and the rise of capitalism, and how this would affect social institutions and people. As a result, ideas such as the Protestant ethic & capitalism, division of labor, and historical materialism were born.

As for the contemporary period, or the new economic sociology, sociologists from this field focus on the effects of economic exchanges and what this does to social meanings and social interactions. They'll look at big corporations or property rights, for instance, to see how these could harm or benefit society. Some issues that researchers analyze are wage gaps and immigration.

For this series of posts, I will focus mainly on the classical period and the early beginnings of the contemporary period.

Some Definitions:
  • Modernity: A term used to illustrate a time in history where society shifted from traditional ways of doing things (feudalism) to modern, or new, ways (democratic and industrial revolutions).
  • Rationalization: The replacing of traditions, values, and emotions as the basis for societal behavior with rational calculation. 

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