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Electronic No. 77-8029.

On the web since fall 2000

Journal of Economic Sociology is indexed by Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) from Web of Science™ Core Collection

Funded by the National Research University Higher School of Economics since 2007.

2012. Vol. 13. No. 2

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword
P. 5–7


Walter W Powell
Interview with Walter W. Powell: «I might be a Little More Sanguine Today than I was Ten Years Ago»
P. 8–16

New Texts

János Mátyas Kovács
Petering Out or Flaming Up? New Institutional Economics in East-Central Europe
P. 17–34

In the paper, János Matyas Kovács reflects upon frictions in the reception of the new institutional economics in Eastern Europe. Large-scale importation of new institutional economics (NIE) was predicted at the beginning of postcommunist transformation in Eastern Europe. The institutionalist explanations seemed to be the most suitable approach in the light of deep-going institutional shifts toward capitalism. Besides textbook Marxism was vanishing while mainstream neoclassical economics was not widely spread. Under these conditions, NIE and ORDO liberalism were expected to be the best options for many scholars. Surprisingly, Eastern Europe was not flooded with the NIE concepts. The short period of NIE’s intensive development in the late 1990s was followed by its stagnation. Instead of consolidation around a unified scientific paradigm, regional economists preferred eclectic research programs, which combined a bunch of approaches. Furthermore, NIE theories encountered a strong rival — mainstream neoclassical theory. Neoclassical paradigm included a number of NIE-type solutions, allowing neoclassical economists to continue their abstract model-constructing. Thus, proponents of neoclassical economic theory did not have obvious stimuli to join new institutional economics. Nevertheless, author presumes that one cannot exclude a new upsurge in the perception and creative application of NIE ideas in the near future. Cultural compromises and the emergence of hybrid theories can give a way toward a smooth evolution of new institutionalism. Using results of a research project carried out in eight countries, János Kovács gives a comprehensive picture of this peculiar transformation in economic and social sciences.

New Translations

Avner Greif
Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade (an Excerpt)
P. 35–58

Varieties in economics, politics and societies are widely considered to be resulted from the influence of different institutions. However, economists, political scientists, and sociologists do not come to agree about what institutions are, which forces contribute to the maintenance of institutions and their changes, and how it is possible to affect institutions development. The author proposes an understanding of institutions which integrates outwardly opposite perspectives of institutional approach in social sciences. His conception gives opportunities to deal with institutional roots, maintenance, endogenous changes and the influence of previous institutions on the successive ones. 

The journal «Economic Sociology» publishes the second chapter «Institutions and Ttransactions» in which the author defines the key concepts of his study in institutional backgrounds for markets and states.   

Beyond Borders

Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov
Bear Skins and Macaroni: On Social Life of Things in a Siberian State Collective, and On the Performativity of Gift and Commodity Distinctions
P. 59–81

This article explores a multiplicity of meanings of exchange and multiplicity of relations that are established through exchange. The article is based on long-term fieldwork in the north of the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia, in which it was observed how a single item that was changing hands between the same people acquired different meanings. This exchange was understood as trade as well as gift at its different moments. The article approaches this interplay of meanings from the point of view of Michel Callon’s theory of performativity of economy. Callon’s focus is on performative relationship between market economy and economic knowledge. In the article, this focus is complemented with the idea of performativity of distinction between gifts and commodities. It is argued that in a situation in which meanings of exchange are exchanged in addition to material objects, it is this relationship between market and non-market exchange that it performative in Post-Soviet as well as in Soviet and older imperial power/knowledge relations. This argument is important for the anthropological gift theory, in which these distinctions are understood as descriptive, rather than performative. In conclusion, there is a discussion about opportunities of constructive dialog between economic sociology and anthropology on “single case study” methodology.

Debut Studies

Maria Kravtsova
Corruption in Police: Changes in Police-Entrepreneur Relations
P. 82–98

The article demonstrates that the structure of corruption relations between police officers and small businessmen has been changing. Informal payments have been replaced by forms of corruption relations which do not involve payments but suppose long-term bilateral contracts and mechanisms of tit for tat reciprocity. These transformations influence the entrepreneurial climate in a significant way. The system where the role of personal ties with officials is especially important, some entrepreneurs feel much better. They have less cost loading, understand deeper their interests, and accumulate more resources in order to protect them in dealing with police officers. There are a lot of factors influencing business climate; therefore it is too early to suppose its significant improvement.

Professional Reviews

Svetlana Barsukova, Vadim Radaev
Informal Economy in Russia: A Brief Overview
P. 99–111

The review is devoted to sociological studies in the field of informal and shadow economy in Russia. It discusses the rise of the shadow economy in the Post-Soviet era, involving transition from fictitious and virtual economy to shadow dealings, from relationships of «blat» to business networking, and from pilfering to tax evasion. Moreover, it addresses the institutionalised practices of corruption and use of violence in business, the maintenance of inter-family reciprocal exchanges and the progressive legalization of business activities. The brief overview proposes key findings concerning the differences between the informal sectors of the Soviet and Post-Soviet periods and the main trends of the modern development in Russian shadow economy.

New Books

Ivan Pavlutkin
Three Sagas of Economics, or Traits of Professional Cuisine
P. 112–117

Research Projects

Anton Sobolev
The Trial of Flame: An Influence of Natural Disasters on Political Preferences and Social Capital in Rural Russia
P. 118–121


Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov, Greg Yudin
Economic Anthropology
P. 122–143


Natalia Firsova
«Comparative Sociology in Quantitative Perspective»: The Laboratory for Comparative Research (LCSR) Conference, 25–28 November 2011
P. 144–148

LCSR Working Seminar, 23–25 April 2012
P. 149

LCSR Summer School «Structural Equation Modeling», 1–14 July 2012
P. 150–151

XIII HSE International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, 3–5 April 2012
P. 152–169

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