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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

Introduction to "Sociology of Markets"

Jens Beckert

Markets as the core institution of capitalist economies are the focus of the project area "Sociology of Markets." The overarching aim is to understand the functioning of markets from a distinctively sociological perspective. Markets are analyzed from a Weberian viewpoint as arenas of social struggle in which actors confront each other under conditions of competition. What are the social, cultural, and political underpinnings for the development of the order of markets? One crucial vantage point of the research projects is the problem of uncertainty market actors face when making decisions. This, in turn, sheds light on the coordination problems market participants must cope with, which can very abstractly be summarized as the problem of value, the problem of competition, and the problem of cooperation. Uncertainty also provides a theoretical opening to explain the embeddedness of economic action. In recent years, the project area has focused increasingly on the role of perceptions of the future in economic decision-making and in explaining economic outcomes. Current empirical projects examine deindustrialization processes, changing time horizons in financial markets, the Brexit decision, the market for bioplastics, and the analysis of illegal markets. Special attention is given to comparative and historical research designs.

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