Economic sociology

The field of sociology focuses almost entirely on networks of outcomes of social interactions. More narrowly, economic sociology considers behavioral interactions of individuals and groups through social capital and social "markets". Sociologists, such as Mark Granovetter, have developed core principles about the interactions of social structure, information, ability to punish or reward, and trust that frequently recur in their analyses of political, economic and other institutions. Granovetter examines how social structures and social networks can affect economic outcomes like hiring, price, productivity and innovation and describes sociologists’ contributions to analyzing the impact of social structure and networks on the economy. Economic sociology studies both the social effects and the social causes of various economic phenomena. The field can be broadly divided into a classical period and a contemporary one. The classical period was concerned particularly with modernity and its constituent aspects (rationalisation, secularisation, urbanisation, social stratification, and so on). As sociology arose primarily as a reaction to capitalist modernity, economics played a role in much classic sociological inquiry. The specific term "economic sociology" was first coined by William Stanley Jevons in 1879, later to be used in the works of Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Georg Simmel between 1890 and 1920. Weber's work regarding the relationship between economics and religion and the cultural "disenchantment" of the modern West is perhaps most iconic of the approach set forth in the classic period of economic sociology.

The contemporary period of economic sociology, also known as new economic sociology, was consolidated by the 1985 work of Mark Granovetter titled "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". These works elaborated the concept of embeddedness, which states that economic relations between individuals or firms take place within existing social relations (and are thus structured by these relations as well as the greater social structures of which those relations are a part). Social network analysis has been the primary methodology for studying this phenomenon. Granovetter's theory of the strength of weak ties and Ronald Burt's concept of structural holes are two best known theoretical contributions of this field. Economic sociology arose as a new approach to the analysis of economic phenomena; emphasizing particularly the role economic structures and institutions play upon society, and the influence a society holds over the nature of economic structures and institutions. The relationship between capitalism and modernity is a salient issue, perhaps best demonstrated in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) and Simmel's The Philosophy of Money (1900). Economic sociology may be said to have begun with Tocqueville's Democracy in America (1835–40) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). Marx's historical materialism would attempt to demonstrate how economic forces influence the structure of society on a fundamental level. Emile Durkheim's The Division of Labour in Society was published in 1922, whilst Max Weber's Economy and Society was released in the same year.