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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. 3

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword (Vadim Radaev)
P. 9–13


Mark Mizraki
Conversation with Mark Mizruchi:“There is Very Little Organizational Theory Left in Sociology Departments” (translated by Alexander Kurakin)
P. 14–25

Prof. Mizruchi was interviewed by Igor Chirikov, senior research fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow. In the interview, Prof. Mizruchi was asked about the evolution of his research interests and peculiarities of his approach to teaching organizational theory. Prof. Mizruchi also described how he became acquainted with organizational sociology. Within his winding career trajectory from Statistical Analyst at Albert Einstein College of Medicine to Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Mark Mizruchi has witnessed the development of both organizational theory and sociology of organizations and their division into institutionally separate subfields. Whether such fragmentation is methodologically important, it certainly affects the teaching process of organizational theories to students and the future of the whole field by shifting its research focus from broad and theoretical issues to more narrow and applied problems. In addition, Prof. Mizruchi shared the main ideas of his recent award-winning book (The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite) and details of the creative writing process. In the final part of the conversation, Prof. Mizruchi told the story of how the Interdisciplinary Committee on Organizational Studies (ICOS) was established and how it influences research and teaching processes at the University of Michigan.

New Texts

Olga Gurova, Saara Ratilainen
“Eastern Tourist”: A Review of Images of Russian Consumers in Finnish Media
P. 26–45

This article, based on discourse analysis of the daily Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, explores images of Russian tourists as consumers, which are often called in the newspaper “eastern tourists”. The purpose of the research is to study how the images of Russian tourists have been evolved over the years 1990–2013. The article demonstrates that the idea of “eastern tourists” has grown into a significant cultural phenomenon in Finland that is reflected in media discourse. However, images of the “eastern tourists” have transformed: in the 1990s, the media was dominated by the image of a “shuttle trader”, traders usually in the informal economy who travel abroad to purchase consumer goods and personally carry them across the border, avoiding customs and tax inspections. This image has been replaced by the image of a middle-class consumer by the beginning of the 2000s. If the image of “shuttle trader” is more often connected in discourse with social problems which such tourists bring, the middle-class consumer, in turn, is mostly seen in the light of the economic benefits which Finland obtains from such consumers. Consequently, in line with this change, to the newspaper depicts the specifics of Russian tourists’ taste and consumption habits. In general, this research allows us to better understand the discourses that represent the perception of Russian tourists in Finnish society.

Elena Konobeeva
Sensemaking in State-Owned Enterprises: The Case of “Russian Post”
P. 46–73

2013–2014 was a stage of organizational transformation of the Russian postalsystem, which caused disruption of the organizational structure and doublingof its operational elements. This article begins by exploring the resultingsituation of ambiguity and uncertainty caused by this disruption. Under theseconditions, according to K. Weick, the sensemaking process should play anessential role in organizational performance.
This research project aims to identify the structural features of the Russian postal system during the reorganization stage, as well as at defining the meanings which employees gave to ongoing changes. The data was collected through participant observation from the position of Moscow Central Office postal employee from June 2013 to September 2014; fourteen interviews of employees and document analysis were conducted as well. Information was recorded in field notes and diary and analyzed with open and axial coding according to the procedures of grounded theory.
The main findings presented in this article are the disruption of structure and the following complexities in its functional performance and the coexistence of two organizational images between more experienced workers affected by organizational change and the newcomer employees with brand new ideas. Employees’ perception of the Russian postal system is presented as simultaneously government and commercial, profitable and detrimental, typical and specific organization. These dual images can cause difficulties both in employees’ communication and organizational performance.

Beyond Borders

Kirill Rozhkov
A Marketing Approach to the Study of Megacity: Necessity, Principles and Prospects
P. 74–109

This paper focuses on the feasibility of urban development concepts in the frame of different and contradictory needs of city residents. The aim of this paper is to justify the need for a marketing approach to big city investigations, to define its key principles, and show its main prospects.
The author’s reasoning is based on the comparison of purposeful and spontaneous logics of city development. Through the analysis of various urban conflicts, the author shows that a spontaneous logic can prevent urban development concepts, projects, and separate decisions influencing residential life from being implemented when the diversity of residential needs is ignored. On the contrary, a marketing approach to urban studies could combine purposeful and spontaneous logic and, thereby, support city management. However, far too little attention has been paid in the previous resident-oriented marketing studies to the behavioural differences of user groups and the interrelated issue of simultaneous place use. There is also a critical gap in the topic of the selection process of target groups of the megacity and marketing to various groups with contradictory interests.
Elements influencing strategic statement for a megacity are considered and, on this basis, the following basic principles of megacity marketing analysis are formulated: (1) to make a comparison between the city benefits sought by its residents and visitors, on one hand, and those which the city or urban concept offers, on the other; (2) to identify user groups with alternative requirements to the city and alternative urban product concepts; (3) to pay more attention to the way in which urban residents “use” the city when segmenting residents for marketing analysis. Techniques of megacity marketing analysis are demonstrated using the results of an empirical study of several Moscow districts.
Results obtained from this research also have pragmatic value in that they can be used as an assessment tool for the feasibility of future urban development concepts.

Debut Studies

Lev Kalinichenko
The Price of Free Music: Valuation and Evaluation Processes in Pay-What-You-Want-Services
P. 110–142

This study addresses the phenomenon of Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) payment systems in relation to the distribution of digital music online. The processes of (e)valuation of items in these situations and the price formation are examined using examples of various cases of payment.
The main goal of this study is to examine evaluation practices and discover motives of the buyer regarding digital music records under conditions of a PWYW-system. To examine this situation, a series of deep semi-structured interviews were conducted with payers about their practices of assigning worth, valuation during payments. The processes of categorization and legitimation were analyzed and the features of several justifications as well as the practices of its construction through categorization processes were distinguished.
As a result of the study, a two-part character of the legitimation of payment is clearly discerned. Firstly, a person must appreciate the music which is recorded in those digital files, and secondly, the intention of supporting a musician is crucial for payment to happen. At the same time occasional appearances of other incentives were detected. Among them are payment as stimulation for production of new music and the advantages of a digital music file. Operating simultaneously, these motives make a heterarchy of incentives to pay for a piece of music in PWYW systems. In many cases a person pays not for the music file, but for various personal experiences, an artist’s work and other things surrounding and related to the music.
To conclude, this study suggests a number of issues in economic life worth considering. Among those are: decision-making in a free pricing situation; to what extent rationality is behind these actions; what can be valued and priced; and finally the concept of a “sociological human” in contrast to an “economic human”. This study also suggests the possible benefits to specific musicians who might use PWYW, who might not be very popular but have having strong ties with their audience.

Professional Reviews

Maxim Markin
Premises for the Economic Sociology of Law in Classical Sociological Theories
P. 143–162

New Books

Anton Kazun
Re-Examining the Role of Business Associations in Russiaand Post-Communist Countries: From Interest Groups to Defensive OrganizationsBook Review: Duvanova D. (2013) Building Business in Post-Communist Russia,Eastern Europe, and Eurasia: Collective Goods, Selective Incentives,and Predatory States. New York: Cambridge University Press.
P. 163–172

In Building Business in Post-Communist Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia: Collective Goods, Selective Incentives, and Predatory States Dinissa Duvanova discusses a “theory of defensive organizations”. Duvanova proposes this theory as an alternative to the theory of interest groups by Olson, Stigler et al. The theory of defensive organizations arises from the critique of the view of business associations as lobbyists caring only for their own interests. Duvanova uses quantitative data from 27 countries in Eastern Europe and Eurasia and qualitative data about the situation in Russia, Ukraine, Croatia and Kazakhstan in order to show that the experience of post-communist countries does not correspond to the predictions of the theory of interest groups. The author sets out to examine and counter the following myths about business associations, including: (1) business associations are a consequence of good institutions; (2) they are not needed in countries with the high level of corruption; (3) they act as cartels seeking to price collusion; (4) compulsory membership in the business associations may solve the collective action problem. Duvanova concludes that business associations in Russia and in other countries of Eastern Europe and Eurasia protect their members from a predatory state rather than from a free market. The review notes some limitations of the book: 1) a relatively short period of quantitative analysis (six-year period from 1999 to 2005); 2) an insufficient account of the differences within the countries; and 3) the excessive optimism of the theory. In general, Duvanova proposes a theory which has high explanatory potential, which will be useful for further empirical research. She consciously simplifies the explanatory scheme to offer a formal model that can be applied to problems beyond the scope of this book. Furthermore, the reviewer notes that the theory of defensive organizations does not contradict the theory of interest groups, rather it expands and complements this theory for countries with a recently developing business community.

Alexey Spirin
Placing Culture into the “Lifeless” Business WorldBook Review: Spillman L. (2012)  Solidarity in Strategy:Making Business Meaningful in American Trade Associations , Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
P. 173–182

Lyn Spillman’s new book Solidarity in Strategy: Making Business Meaningful in American Trade Associations considers the historical development and evolution of American business associations and their role in the contemporary economic system as a special organizational form of interactions among business actors. In the broadest sense, Spillman argues that associations are “cultural producers for economic action” [Spillman: 79]. Moreover, the author pays attention to the association’s ability to survive under complex economic and political conditions. Spillman analyzes the processes through which associations have transformed from unstable, redundant and limited “dinner clubs” to powerful and authoritative structures, wielding practical tools for solving complex market objectives.
The book review addresses the issue of theoretical background of the book, and more precisely this review focuses on Lyn Spillman’s synthesis of Weber’s conception of self interest with Durkheim’s view of collective action. In terms of this framework Lyn Spillman argues against a conventional statement that associations are solely a conspiracy of manufacturers who narrowly target to act against consumer. In contrast, business actors are seen to be altruistic, focusing on the collective good and group identification rather than egoistic or placing profit center stage. All in all, the aim of this book review is to represent Spillman’s key ideas, analyze the author’s logic and finally endeavor to grasp how and to whom this book could be beneficial and where it might be implemented.


Anastasia Kazun
Practices of Law Enforcement in Russia: Rules of the Game De Jure and De Facto. XVI April International Academic Conference on Economicand Social Development, April 7–10, 2015
P. 183–190

As part of the XVI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, HSE — Moscow, two sessions on economics and law were held 9 April 2015. The first session, Law Enforcement and Entrepreneurs, was chaired by a leading researcher from the Institute of Law Enforcement at the European University in St. Petersburg Kirill Titaev and the second session, Economic Analysis of Regulatory Bodies, was moderated by Andrey Shastitko, researcher from the Institute for Industrial and Market Studies, HSE Moscow. Speakers at the sessions included Irina Chetverikova (Institute for the Rule of Law at the European University at Saint-Petersburg), L. Bardin (Central Bar in Moscow), Anton Kazun (HSE), Zinaida Poghosova (HSE) and Elena Podkolzina (HSE), D. Tsytsulina (HSE — Nizhny Novgorod), Svetlana Avdasheva HSE), and Svetlana Golovanova (HSE — Nizhny Novgorod).
The direction of the debate in the first session was partly formulated by Titaev, when he noted that more correct name for first session would be Law and Rational Choice. According to the Titaev, in this case, it is appropriate to speak about economic rationality, which is common to all parties involved in the process: the accused, the victim, judges and defendants. At the next session, the focus shifted to the discussion of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). Real decision-making practices and risks of introducing criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of the organization were at the center of the debate. Both sessions highlighted the obvious challenge that often formal rules and their changes do not completely determine the situation, but may also be influenced by informal norms. The distinction between formal rules and informal norms is a key issue of economic sociology. The focus of both sessions was not only the formal rules in law enforcement system, but also real-life practices. Speakers described the logic of awarding judgment using the examples from different legal cases. They concluded that actions which seem illogical for an external observer (such as the refusal of companies to provide FAS evidence in their favor) often have their own internal rationality. Therefore, researchers need to know not only the laws, but also the informal norms. This problem has been widely discussed in recent years and definitely will be an important issue for future studies in economic sociology.

Supplements (in English)

Gyorgy Lengyel
Sociology of Entrepreneurship and Beyond:An Interview with Gyorgy Lengyel
P. 191–202

Prof. Lengyel was interviewed by Maxim Markin, junior research fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Prof. Lengyel was asked about changes in major research streams in Hungarian economic sociology since 2002 when he gave his first interview to the Journal of Economic Sociology. In this interview, Prof. Lengyel notes that the Hungarian tradition of economic sociology tends to remain pragmatic. However, Hungarian sociology obviously has become more internationalized due to scholars’ participation in international research projects, the establishment of peer-reviewed journals, and offering English-based MA and PhD programs.
In addition, Prof. Lengyel emphasizes that entrepreneurship — along with employment policy, migration, and unemployment — remains a popular topic for sociological research. He proposes that the decline of entrepreneurship inclination among adults observed in European countries can be explained by a number of reasons, including a low level of general trust and crises. At the same time, European integration contributed to the emergence of new social categories such as supranational elites and globalized classes, which have rarely been in the center of sociological studies. Finally, Prof. Lengyel expects that such topics as economic behavior and its social implications under crises will attract serious attention from economic sociologists in the near future.

Marina Spirina
Poverty and Shared Prosperity in Russia: Income Dynamics and Social InequalityXVI April International Academic Conference on Economicand Social Development, April 7–10, 2015, Russia, Moscow
P. 203–208

The session Poverty and Shared Prosperity in Russia was held on April 8, 2015 at the XVI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development organized by the National Research University Higher School of Economics with support of the World Bank in Moscow. Situated within the broader field of social policy, the session explored the impact of various factors such as non-market income, taxation, institutional context, geographic position, educational level and composition of the labor market on inequality and poverty in Russia. The presented reports were based on the Poverty and Shared Prosperity in Russia project undertaken by the World Bank in partnership with the Higher School of Economics (Russia) and Tulane University (USA) in order to assess how different micro and macro factors can explain the capacity of the bottom 40 percent of the population to contribute to economic growth in the country.The research was conducted using the Commitment to Equity (CEQ) methodological tool developed by Nora Lustig and her team at Tulane University.
The session focused on three aspects of the bottom 40 percent income in Russia which are (1) the role of non-market income and the incidence of the fiscal system; (2) income inequality and the decomposition of the distribution of wages; (3) productivity and sustainability of wage dynamics.
The keynote speakers of the session were Vladimir Gimpelson (HSE), Luis F. López-Calva (World Bank) and Daria Popova (HSE). Irina Denisova (World Bank) and Carolina Sanchez-Paramo (World Bank) acted as lead moderators. The session attracted a wide audience, including Russian and foreign researchers from various academic fields.

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