Officially registered in the Federal Service for Supervision in the Area of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications
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.

2015. Vol. 16. No. 1

Full text of the journal

Vadim Radaev
Editor’s Foreword
P. 9–11


Alya Guseva
Interview with Alya Guseva: How Markets for Credit Cards were Created in Postcommunist Societies
P. 12–21

Alya Guseva, Professor of Sociology at Boston University, was interviewed by Natalia Khalina, a Lecturer at the Higher School of Economics. The interview was conducted during the workshop “Consumption and Economic Crises: Post-Socialist Experiences” (Moscow, 9–10 October 2014) where A. Guseva presented her new book “Plastic Money: Constructing Markets for Credit Cards in Eight Postcommunist Countries”, co-authored with A. Rona-Tas [Rona-Tas, Guseva 2014].
In the interview Guseva describes how markets for credit cards became the subject of her research interest and why card markets in Poland, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, China and Vietnam were chosen for the study. Guseva explains how these markets were constructed and how successful the listed countries were in reproducing the “American credit card market” model. Two key concepts of the book, concerning market creation and market operation, were considered: functional rules and generative rules and how postcommunist market actors applied those rules. Additionally, questions concerning how bank cards change family finance practices and how bank card usage, connected with power and control for information and resources, were raised.
At the end of her interview Guseva points out that while we are observing the creation of credit card markets within postcommunist space, the credit card markets themselves are being pressed by the emerging market of mobile payments.

Beyond Borders

Edmund Phelps
Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change (an excerpt)
P. 22–37

The presented book “Mass Flourishing” by Edmund Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Economics Prize, proposes a new perspective on what the prosperity of nations is. According to the author, the prosperity at a national scale comes from the broad involvement of people with innovations. These processes of innovation serve as a source of dynamism for economic development but can be restricted by institutions if not fueled by the right values. However, in the XX century, the history of the prosperity of the Western world, which began in the XIX century, stopped partially due to the fact that the understanding of what the prosperity means was lost and institutions were diluted by conservative values resistant to modern life. For instance, there are calls for greater social security and for more attention to the value of communities and families. Moreover, Phelps develops a new concept of economy that is both modern and fair. The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the book’s introduction “Advent of the Modern Economies”, in which the author indicates the roots of modern economies from the XIXth to the first half of the XX century. The flourishing of modern economies came to Britain and the USA, later to France and Germany. The peculiarities of modern economies include conditions within the frameworks of those ordinary people with different talents having opportunities for personal development and self-expression.

Debut Studies

Anastasiya Golovneva
“Legitimacy Worlds”: Prosaic Writers’ Strategies of Legitimation in Russian Literary Field
P. 38–62

This article is the result of empirical research of prose writers’ strategies of legitimation in St. Petersburg. The concept of legitimacy in the field of cultural production is a problematic area in sociological research. The paper deals with the transformation of attempts to conceptualize legitimacy in the cultural industries, from the thesis of the “high” culture privileged legitimacy to the recognition of multiple principles of separation, legitimate and illegitimate in this area. In this study, the legitimacy of the field of literature actors is limited to the market of literary publications. Publishing houses, literary awards, as well as the associated “thick” literary journals, critics, and journalists are considered to be the institutional sources of legitimacy in this area. The aim of the work is to analyze the strategies implemented by novelists in Russia’s literary field to achieve legitimacy in the field in a situation of uncertainty of principles of selection agents and the risk of not attaining a legitimate position within it. The empirical basis of the study consists of the narratives of writers and other agents in the literary field, collected using the methods of semi-structured interviews and participant observation at the public presentations of writers’ books. As a result, the author accounts for legitimation of writers as work in three directions: of reaching literary legitimacy, based on the fact of text creation, institutional legitimacy of two forms, published form (a writer becomes a part an institution in order to have their book published) and expert form (a writer assumes the position of an expert in a given field); and the public recognition variety of legitimacy, based on the public interest in the author. Each of these types of legitimacy implies a certain set of strategies to achieve it, employed by prose writers.

New Books

Svetlana Barsukova
Why do Breadwinners Leave Home? Book Review: Plusnin Ju. et al. (2013) Otkhodniks [Wandering Workers], Moscow: Novyy khronograph (in Russian).
P. 63–69

The presented book review is devoted to “Otkhodniks” by Plusnin Ju., Zausaeva Ya., Zhidkevich N., Pozanenko A. (editor — S. Kordonsky). Otkhodnichestvo is a type of labor migration implying a scenario in which an adult, able-bodied family member temporarily leaves home to seek work in another area. Otkhodnichestvo has a long history in Russia but a new wave of its mass dissemination appeared in recent decades. The reviewed book defines a concept of otkhodnichestvo, considers what similarities and dissimilarities there are between this phenomenon and other forms of labor migration (i.e. jobbers, rotation workers, and temporary cross-border migrants). It reveals the otkhodniks’ motivation and economic patterns, describes typical social and demographic characteristics of contemporary wandering workers, evaluates otkhodniks’ cultural and social impact on local their community’s everyday life, etc. The book is based on a series of fieldwork studies conducted by the authors in small Russian towns over the last four years. The book is published with support from the Social Research Support Foundation “Khamovniki”.
In the review Barsukova discusses her impressions of the book, outlining its unusual genre. One uncontestable advantage of the book is an ethnographic material allowing readers to become immersed in all details of otkhodnik life. Otkhodniks usually come from small rural towns. They are forced to leave their homes to seek jobs in other areas because there are no opportunities for them to earn money in their permanent place of residence. Moreover, a key driver of the discussed form of labor migration is the otkhodniks’ aspiration to provide normal living conditions for their family members. The book review author highlights that otkhdoniks should be discussed not just in terms of their informal employment, the context of family relationship transformation should also be taken seriously into account.

Kirill Makarov
The Free Market and the Moarl Limits. Book Review: Sandel M. J. (2012) What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, London: Allen Lane.
P. 70–80

Modern society, in which it is possible to buy or sell most goods, is regarded as far more rationally arranged comparing to those where goods distribution is grounded on the principle of reallocation or of reciprocity. Indeed there is rationale for considering that a market, if not hindered by other forces, will distribute goods effectively, providing to those who are able and willing to pay for them. However the question is: does this lead to a welfare state? Or does it cause social atomization, inequality of growth and a predominance of economic calculation?
Commodification is a process that is registered through the whole history of capitalism’s development. Although it may be regarded as a natural market attribute, commodification should be permanently examined with thoroughness and never neglected. Allowed out of control, commodification may lead to an unexpected aftermath, reshaping the image of society in an undesirable way. Pricing goods does not change their functionality but it surely alters the meaning that commodity might have attached to it.
Michael Sandel’s new book, “What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets” is all about the destructive outcomes of an uncontrolled commodification process.

Supplements (in English)

Vadim Radaev
Relational Exchange in Supply Chains and Its Constitutive Elements
P. 81–99

This paper examines theoretical issues of direct interfirm exchange in supply chains and focuses upon the relational aspect of embeddedness. Exploring insights from contract theory, marketing research, and economic sociology, we distinguish between the transactional and the relational forms of market exchange. It is assumed that real-world market exchange should not only be associated with arm’s-length ties but presents divergent combinations of arm’s-length and embedded ties. Problematizing the notion of embeddedness, we treat it as a multidimensional phenomenon. Embeddedness is shaped by a variety of relatively independent constitutive elements that may be developed (or not developed) in relation with different exchange partners or with one partner that is attached to different elements or phases of the market exchange. An original typology of dimensions that are constitutive for embedded/relational exchange is constructed. These dimensions are attached to the phases of the interfirm contract cycle as opposed to the relationships life cycle. Applying a processual view of social structure, we explore the emergence of the relational exchange elements as they result from the strategic choices made by the market sellers as they move along the cycle of contractual relationships. We also define hybrid forms of exchange as ways of coping with market uncertainty. Finally, we set up a number of hypotheses regarding the factors that facilitate the emergence of embedded/relational exchange and suggest measurement tools for the future empirical research.

Tatiana Karabchuk
Bad Jobs as a Core Driver of Growing Social Inequality in the United States. Book Review: Kalleberg A. (2011) Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s, New York: Russell Sage Foundation
P. 100–109

This is a review of a masterpiece by a famous professor of labor sociology. Anyone looking for understanding current labor market processes needs to read this latest work by Arne L. Kalleberg, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kalleberg focuses on the US and shares his deep understanding of a wide range of social and economic mechanisms of the labor market under globalization. The book gives a vivid description of the current labor market and provides an explanation for the changes that brought about the rise of precarious employment. The book sheds light on the reasons for the dramatic increase in polarization and inequality between jobs and both between and within occupations. Kalleberg argues that the US is in dire need of a new social contract to tackle the challenges that arise from a globalized division of labor, widening polarization in the quality of jobs, and the proliferation of precarious work. An example of such a new social contract is a “flexicurity” system, aspects of which exist today in some countries. Kalleberg claims that only a coordinated effort by government, business and labor can address the sources and consequences of the polarization in job quality and that only such an effort will be able to improve both the economic competitiveness of the US and the quality of jobs and lives of American citizens. Though the book itself is focused on the American labor market during the last forty years, this review attempts to place Kalleberg’s ideas into a global context.

Ivan Aymaliev
A Review of the Study “Measurement and Analysis of Corruption Using Objective Data” by T. V. Natkhov and L. I. Polischuk
P. 110–114

The purchase of “beautiful” car registration plates from state authorities is legal in many developed democracies. However, in Russia this practice is strictly prohibited. Anecdotal evidences suggest that Russians circumvent the law by bribery or blat. Given the ambiguous nature of informal payments to public officials, Natkhov and Polischuk propose a new objective measure of corruption based on the distribution of “beautiful” registration numbers. This article reviews their study and its discussion at the Sociology of Markets seminar at the Higher School of Economics. The authors hypothesize that in the absence of corruption, the “beautiful” registration numbers will be distributed normally regardless of automobile brands. In the presence of corruption, however, the “beautiful” registration numbers will be concentrated across luxury brands. They argue that a higher than usual concentration of “beautiful” registration numbers is an indicator of corruption. To test this hypothesis, they draw upon corruption economics theories and use an innovative dataset that includes car brands and registration numbers issued by the police in the city of Moscow from 2000–2007, as well as a 2014 quantitative survey with citizens (N = 1,552). The economists find that the “beautiful” registration numbers are concentrated across luxury car brands, but are normally distributed across ordinary brands. They conclude that the higher than usual concentration of “cherish” registration numbers among luxury brands is an indicator of higher police corruption. Nevertheless, sociologists suggest that the proposed index is rather an indicator of social status, personal connections or elite consumption preferences.

Rambler's Top100 rss