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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. 4

Full text of the journal

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

Vladimir Yadov (25 April 1929 — 2 July 2015)
P. 14–16

Beyond Borders

Alexander Kondakov
The Uncomfortable Law: Why the Civil Code of Russia is a Constraint for International Business
P. 17–38

This article explores the conceptual bases of civil law in Russia by employing the method of deconstruction. The main aim of the analysis is to uncover a particular configuration of power that is reproduced in the text of the Civil Code. As a point of departure, a review of theoretical assumptions of civil law is introduced from the sociology of law perspective. In order to contextualize idealistic conceptions of law, this article draws on materials from an empirical study of top-managers and corporate lawyers. Field research included 17 interviews with corporate lawyers and top-managers of international companies from Finland, Germany and the US that operate in Russia. Analysis of interviews identifies contexts in which law is problematized, which relate to power relations in business. In the interviews, the informants tend to define a wide circle of troubles in their business activities. However, the main issue that they discuss is various legal requirements set by Russian law which the international managers do not understand; these are always related to bureaucracy. This allows us to approach the text of law in a new way: to identify those fragments of the text that privilege state apparatus over private interactions. Based on this methodology, this article offers a conceptual analysis of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation that makes visible how exactly law turns from a tool of successful business to a barrier, hindering everyday business activities of international corporations in Russia. Despite the fact that the Civil Code includes provisions which support free private interactions and do not limit them, this is only a facade that hides the configuration of power relations that allows for the subjection of commercial agreements to the power of state bureaucracy.


New Translations

Dani Rodrik
Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science (an excerpt)
P. 39–59

Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science is based on a course of lectures on Political Economy (co-authored with Roberto Mangabeira) at Harvard University. This course helped Rodrik to start thinking about economic theory’s weaknesses and strengths in order to articulate the opportunities and benefits of the economic method. This book aims to bridge the gap between economists and non-economists. Rodrik argues that it helps to convince scholars from other social sciences that it is just a stereotype that economists believe in universal economic laws. Actually, Rodirik states, there are a lot of various conceptions providing economists with multiple explanations of the social world and implications which public policy might rely on. Demonstrating economic theory’s potential for non-economists is a central message of this book.
The Journal of Economic Sociology is publishing the first chapter “Models at Work” with permission from the Gaidar Institute Publishing House. In this chapter, the author explains what an economic model is, what kind of premises it implies, and for what it is applied. Rodrik draws readers’ attention to the fact that there are a number of economic models in economic theory, generated from various theoretical perspectives. The presence of a number of models is a main strength of economic theory.

Debut Studies

Sofia Villo
The Problem of Trust in a Situation of Stakeholder Risk Concern
P. 60–84

The article analyzes managerial practices in creating trust in a company from the perspective of stakeholders when they are concerned about potential negative effects of the company’s actions. The purpose of the study is to determine managerial practices that undermine trust in the company by the stakeholders in a situation of risk concern, to explore why this happens and to develop practical implications for the formation of trust in a company under such situations. Four approaches to trust theory — a rational choice under risk, an act of faith, a psychological condition and a moral attitude — form the theoretical basis of the study. Stakeholder risk concern is examined by drawing on the example of the industrial development of the Arctic by the Gazprom group of companies (Gazprom Neft, Gazprom Neft Shelf, Gazprom). The research examines the position of environmental NGOs, Russian Bird Conservation Union, WWF Russia, Greenpeace Russia and Bellona-Murmansk. Data include press releases of these environmental organizations and other archival documents in which representatives of the environmental organizations express their concerns about the actions of the Gazprom group of companies in the development of the Prirazlomnoe oil field. The author identifies seven managerial practices that may seem reasonable for managers but undermine trust in the company and increase stakeholder concern. The author carefully discusses why these practices are not helpful in building trust in a company. Based on this analysis, the author draws conclusions regarding a possible base for trust in a company by stakeholders in a situation of risk concern.

Professional Reviews

Olga Dovbysh
Media Markets in the Focus of Social Network Analysis
P. 85–107

This article presents a review of literature on the network structure of media markets. The focus on the network approach is not an accident: features which distinguish media markets from other markets as well as the specific nature of media products influence the network configurations and relations between actors in this market.
The author explores how media markets are structured in terms of intra-market relations, what these relations are, and reasons for these relations and what network configuration is typical for media markets. This review focuses on the following questions: How is the media market organized in terms of the intramarket relations of its members? What relations exist in the market? What is the rationale of these relations? What configuration of the network is typical for the media market?
The author suggests that the network structure of media markets can be explained by the peculiarities of media industries and media products. Thus, the literature review revealed that media markets can be characterized by a high share of informal relations within the market structure. Such structure allows reduced risks related to the impossibility of demand forecast for cultural goods and the dependency on individual tastes and fashion. The project-based work of many cultural products influences embedded links between actors. The power of personal social contacts is important, however it is not the same for different stages of the production chain for media products, or for different spatial scales of interrelations and in different sectors of media.
In addition, informal relations are valuable for many types of activities — generating creative products, employment and career developing, etc. Structures of interlocking directorates also exist in media industries, however, there is no evidence that media companies are more intertwined than in other industries. Actors in cultural industries can be characterized by small world network configurations that enable more effective creative process, but can block the entrance of new participants and new ideas.
A number of questions for further investigation are stated in the end of the article.

New Books

Yana Roshchina
How Judgments of Quality are Formed within Markets of Singularities. Book Review: Karpik L. (2010) Valuing the Unique:The Economics of Singularities, Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
P. 108–117

Choosing a good novel, a fancy restaurant, artwork, or a qualified specialist practitioner cannot be understood with the help of theories of exchange mechanisms offered by economics. Lucien Karpik suggests the concept of “singularity” for analyzing consumer choice of high-quality unique goods. The main attributes of “singularities” include multidimensionality, uncertainty, and incommensurability. The important traits of markets for singularities include opacity and opportunism, the necessity for coordination mechanisms, the dominance of quality competition over price competition, and the impossibility to explain price setting with the supply-demand equilibrium.
Markets for singularities contain judgment devices (e.g. guides, expert reviews, laureate lists) which help consumers to make a choice. These devices are used in order to reduce uncertainty, providing consumers with necessary knowledge. These devices include networks, certificates of quality, expert systems, ratings (composed by experts or developed by the market), techniques of consumer manipulation and forms of product demonstration at points of sales.
Markets for singularities are governed on the basis of several coordination regimes. Thus, the “regime of authenticity” can be found within markets of expensive wine based on guarantees of quality. “Mega-regime” refers to situations where brand names signal a certain quality, such as global movie producers, luxury apparel manufactures, and so on. The “regime of expert opinion” exists within constrained markets, including books, movies, theatre performances, etc. The “regime of professional coordination” is applied to markets of personal services such as physicians or architects, where service suppliers are governed by professional ethics and associations.
Prices for singularities are not determined by the standard equilibrium mechanism of supply and demand, but instead are set based on restraints of volume production. A market for a singularity also implies great discrepancies in prices for top-tier products by ratings versus goods produced for mass consumption.

Elena Berdysheva
Even with Government Standards — Judging Quality is Hard! Book Review: Beckert J., Musselin Ch. (eds) (2013) Constructing Quality.The Classification of Goods in Markets, New York: Oxford University Press.
P. 118–130

This review discusses the collection of articles edited by J. Beckert and C. Musselin, Constructing Quality: The Classification of Goods in Markets. The collection is focused on the processes of social construction of criteria for the quality of market goods in modern consumer markets. It is intended to contribute to the body of literature on the mechanisms for evaluation, classification, and commensuration, a request for which surfaces in a whole variety of social areas in a modern society (characterized by the rise of calculation and managerialism). This review covers both the main problems emerging in this thematic field and the answers suggested by the authors of the articles in this volume. Thus, the reader is encouraged to think about the ways in which social values are translated into market categories, which actors contribute to this process, which tools are used for consolidating the criteria of quality, where the conditions of confidence in these criteria are hidden, why there may be discrepancies and how they can be overcome, as well as a number of other issues. The common theme of the volume and the review is the idea that the quality of market goods is a relatively fluid polyvalent category, and interpretations of this term are often diverse depending on the type of good, the degree of its social entanglement, the institutional and socio-cultural environment of the market, as well as value-oriented attitudes and the structural positions of the subjects who must make judgments and evaluations of the market commodity. The problem of the quality of market goods is interesting for sociologists not as a practical problem, but as another angle which makes it possible to see the mechanics of the social order of the market in action. The market consensus concerning the quality of the goods exchanged for money conceals both the observance of the typical social norms of the given historical period and the adherence to the principle of parity of the parties, that is, the mutual recognition of the fairness of market transaction by the buyer and the seller. Thus, an issue which seemed secondary, how the social attitudes are formed with respect to the quality standards of market goods, has instead a central place among the dilemmas of how modern consumer markets function and reproduce.


Denis Kadochnikov, Danila Raskov
Economics of Vices and VirtuesInternational Academic Conference at Saint-Petersburg State University, May 15–16, 2015
P. 131–135

The International Academic Conference on Economics of Vices and Virtues was held at Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the St. Petersburg State University on May 15–16, 2015. The conference, organized by the Center for the Study of Economic Culture, was the fourth in a series of conferences aimed at a comprehensive discussion of the complex issues related to economic culture and to the interaction of cultural values, economic activities and economic science. Researchers from various regions of Russia, as well as from Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, US, Belgium, Italy, Finland attended the conference. Among key topics of the conference were issues of theoretical and methodological reflection on the concepts of vices and virtues in the context of social sciences and humanities, as well as public policy concerns in regards to what traditionally is measured using these concepts. Primary attention was paid to the issues of alcohol consumption and alcohol policy in Russia and other countries, including issues of formation of drinking practices and the tools that governments can use to influence them. The conference participants also discussed other cultural practices whose perception as “vicious” or “virtuous” by the general public and by social scientists may differ.

XVII April International Academic Conference on Economicand Social Development at Higher School of Economics, April 19–22, 2016
P. 136–137

Supplements (in English)

Katharina Bluhm
Economic Actors and Liberal Dependent Capitalism. Interview with Katharina Bluhm
P. 138–147

Dr. Prof. Katharina Bluhm, head of the Institute for East European Studies at Free University of Berlin, was interviewed by Zoya Kotelnikova, assistant professor and senior research fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in July 2014. In this conversation, Prof. Bluhm talked about the recently published book Business Leaders and New Varieties of Capitalism in Post-Communist Europe which she edited together with Bernd Martens and Vera Trappmann. The book includes sections by the editors as well as by György Lengyel, Béla Janky, Krzysztof Jasiecki, and others. The book presents results from an international survey of entrepreneurs and top managers in East Germany, West Germany, Hungary, and Poland. The book begins with the notion that we should bring back economic actors, with their cultural ideas on what capitalism should be, into the core of the literature on varieties of capitalism in Europe. An approach centered on economic actors appears most attractive to the authors, who attempt to explain the convergence of ideas about the social role of companies and trade unions, in order to better understand the models of capitalism emerging in Central and Eastern European countries. Finally, the interview includes a discussion of liberal dependent capitalism and attitudes to multinational economic elites in post-communist Europe.

Ivan Zabaev
The Economic Ethics of Contemporary Russian Orthodox Christianity: A Weberian Perspective
P. 148–168

This article presents a discussion of the economic ethics of contemporary Russian Orthodoxy, manifested in the practices of economic actors, and Orthodox economic ideology, drawing on the approach formulated by Max Weber in The Pro-testant Ethic. Orthodox ideology and economic ethics are analyzed using popular Orthodox literature (1990–2004), doctrinal texts on social and economic issues, as well as materials gathered in ethnographic expeditions between 1999–2004 to eight monasteries in various regions of the Russian Federation. Key aspects of the economic ideology include love for one’s neighbor and work as a means for self-sufficiency; the result of work is considered to be the gift of God. Key ca-tegories of economic ethics are obedience and humility. This article concludes in the framework of Weber’s approach, that such ethics of obedience and humility determine the attitude towards economic activities, which the Russian Orthodox Church generates among its followers.

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