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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.

2016. Vol. 17. No. 2

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword (Vadim Radaev)
P. 7–10


David Woodruff
Interview with David Woodruff: “Financial Market Governs by Panic”
P. 11–20

David Woodruff, associate professor of Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was interviewed at the Volkswagen Summer School “Governance, Markets, and Institutions: Russia and Germany Compared,” which took place at the Free University Berlin, September 26–October 10, 2015. As a guest lecturer, Woodruff gave a presentation, “Eurozone Governance and Global Financial Stability.” The interview was prepared by Elena Gudova, a PhD student and teacher at the Higher School of Economics.
David Woodruff explains the origins of his interest in Karl Polanyi’s famous work The Great Transformation and how he applies Polanyi’s ideas to the 1990s economic reforms in Russia and the current crisis in the Eurozone. According to Prof. Woodruff, Polanyi’s work is becoming increasingly important today because it analyzes the foundations of the neoliberal market approach and government attempts to shield markets from political processes.
In his book Money Unmade: Barter and the Fate of Russian Capitalism [Woodruff 2000a], Woodruff discusses barter and debt offsets in Russia before the devaluation of 1998 as a defensive reaction of society to attempts to introduce market liberalism of the sort Polanyi analyzed, employing analogous means of mitigating the price mechanism. Another of Polanyi’s ideas that Woodruff highlights is the way the gold standard strengthened the political influence of bankers and financiers by creating the possibility for panic on the financial markets.
Woodruff also refers to the term “ordoliberalism” to describe a specific form of liberal policies. Ordoliberalism argues that the state is necessary for market functioning but that its actions must conform to strict and sharply defined rules. The potential inflexibility of these rules, even in the face of market panic, helps to make the prospect of panic an important tool of political influence. In conclusion, Woodruff also notes that the study of ordoliberalism’s history could give us some understanding as to why some countries prosper while others do not, and how different ethical issues overlap with the economic doctrines of distinct states.

New Texts

Tatiana Karabchuk, Ruslan Almukhametov
Wages of Policemen in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia
P. 21–49

The police force is the crucial pillar of safety and order in a country.Work in the police is considered to be risky, highly demanding, andvery responsible. Both government and society expect excellent workfrom police officers. A country’s development defines the developmentof its institutions, including the police, which is why many transitioneconomies went through police reforms recently. One of the reforms’targets was the wage of police officers. Unfortunately, the police forceis a very closed social group and can rarely be identified in householdsurveys, so information is scarce. However, it is very important to knowand understand how wages are determined in the police force and ifthere are any differences among countries with transition economies.How much do the wages vary inside the police? This paper is aimed atanalyzing the wage formation mechanism in Post-Soviet countries likeKazakhstan and Russia and in Eastern European countries like Bulgariaand Latvia. In 2012, the highest average monthly wage was to be foundin Bulgaria ($1,428) and the lowest was in Kazakhstan ($595). A regressionanalysis on the collected data from police officers’ interviews(with a sample size of 1,854 policemen) showed that education, tenure,department, and rank determined police wages but also that the factorsdiffered from country to country. Education is the crucial factor in Bulgariaand increases wages by 27%, while in other countries education has no effect on police wages. In Russia,the most significant influence on wages is rank. The higher-ranked police officers receive up to 55% more thanlower-ranked officers do.

New Translations

Daniel Beunza, David Stark
From Dissonance to Resonance: Cognitive Interdependence in Quantitative Finance
P. 50–87

The article treats quantitative finance sociologically. It is argued that although mathematical modeling dramatically changed the nature of modern finance, it did not eliminate sociality from financial markets. However, the traditional sociological approach to markets, with its focus on personal social ties and networks, should be transformed as well. Anonymous financial models have not replaced social cues; instead, those models are used socially. This means that investment bank traders use formal mathematical models to predict the decisions of competing traders. Moreover, traders use these models as a reflexive tool. This reflexive modeling creates distributed cognition or dissonance, which helps traders to avoid errors and financial losses. However, this mechanism has an implicit, but very dangerous, drawback: by creating cognitive interdependence, it may lead to massive errors and huge losses in an entire market. While the dissonance effect prevents individual errors, the resonance effect gives way to a collective (market) disaster. Two relevant case studies are considered. Both cases refer to anticipated mergers, but while one of the mergers was correctly predicted, the other one was not. Thus, the first case illustrates the bright side of financial models, while the second shows their dark side. The article contributes to the discussion of the new forms of sociality primarily associated with financial models. The study is based on three years of field research in a major investment bank focusing on traders’ everyday practices.

Beyond Borders

Richard E. Wagner
Fiscal Sociology and the Theory of Public Finance. An Exploratory Essay (an excerpt)
P. 88–115

This book presents an alternative approach to public finance, which supposedly refers to general social theory. This approach contrasts with the perspective that regards state and economy as autonomous and independent spheres. According to Richard Wagner, “government” refers to a set of spaces where social interactions proceed and unfold. Fiscal activities should be associated less with state intervention in the economy than with arenas for cooperation and conflicts. The author stresses the importance of emergent processes of development driven by conflicts between people and their plans. Wagner points out that this book presents his personal view on the theory of public finance and hopes that it will attract a wide audience.
The Journal of Economic Sociology is publishing the first chapter, “Contrasting Architectonics for a Theory of Public Finance.” In the first chapter, Wagner discusses two contrasting approaches to public finance: the predominant and alternative approaches. The former treats finance as a part of economic system. The latter treats it as a form of social theorizing. The author supposes that a dialog between these two approaches is necessary.

Professional Reviews

Dilyara Ibragimova
Money, Gender, and Power in Households: Conceptual Approaches
P. 116–145

The bulk of the literature on processes related to the triad of money–power–inequality highlight power as the main driver. Given the causal relations, this view can be considered logical and reasonable. If research into these processes deals with the family (household) as an actor, the research appears to be enriched (more complex). As households often consist of men and women, biological sex and culturally constructed gender should be taken into account. Most researchers focusing on gender issues agree that gender relationships imply power relations. What is peculiar about family power relations and how are they related to money management? This article aims to depict the main perspectives related to the conceptualization of the indicated notions as well as, in part, their empirical operationalization. The first part of this article reviews power patterns developed by Steven Lukes, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Bourdieu and discusses issues related to definitions of “financial power” and its operationalization when applied to family relationships. The second part deals with economic and sociological concepts that reveal and explain the determinants of power relationships. The third part analyzes ongoing changes in the gender order and their potential effects on the structure of power functions in the family.

New Books

Natalia Conroy
Neoliberalism: In Search of Translation
Book Review: Kayaalp E. (2015) Remaking Politics, Markets and Citizens in Turkey:Governing through Smoke. London: Bloomsbury Academic
P. 146–155

Ebru Kayaalp’s book is a rare example of ethnographic research in which the reader will find everything in one place: an unusual mobile object, daring experimentation with fieldwork methods, a productive combination of the latest theoretical approaches, thought-provoking analysis, and a fascinating story. Using tools from actor-network theory and Callon’s anthropology of markets, the author reveals the role of international experts and Western institutions (“devices”) in the neoliberalization of modern Turkey’s tobacco market. She claims that the devices experts employ to translate global standards into Turkish contexts did not just transform the tobacco market: they also depoliticized policy and created new “regimes of citizenship.” At the same time, the researcher shows that global standards and institutions as devices never match the conditions in their host countries and are never truly “localized.” They depend on multiple actors in their new assemblages, and those actors give meaning, content, and action programs to the imported institutions. The author believes that this complicates any comparative analysis of developing countries’ economies paving the way for liberalization. However, I want to believe that, with the growing number of ethnographies, there will be opportunities to compare and verify some of Ebru Kayaalp’s extremely interesting and controversial assumptions. Is the process in which institutions are “settled” as qualitatively different from “localization” or “naturalization” as the author claims? Is there any place for a “gift” relationship between Western financial institutions and economies in crisis? Are international experts really the key actors helping the West’s “traveling rationalities” to settle in the developing world? In my opinion, this remarkable ethnography is an important event, and the book could be a source of inspiration, a role model, and a good cause for debate, not just among anthropologists, sociologists, and historians but also among those who produce the expert knowledge that transforms policy and markets.

Tatyana Larkina
1 + 1: The Genes for Sale
Book Review: Almeling R. (2011) Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggsand Sperm. Berkeley: University of California Press
P. 156–164

Rene Almeling’s book Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm concerns the issues of the gendered framing of the market and the commodification of the human body and its parts. With the rich empirical base of the study, Almeling offers a new way of theorizing bodily commodification, noting the non-commonality of this phenomenon and emphasizing the diversity of market organizational and experienced practices. The detailed and unbiased analysis of market organization and its experience, in which these two aspects are viewed in their interrelationship, promotes a better understanding of what is occurring when bodily products are offered for sale. In addition, Almeling develops Viviana Zelizer’s model for market analysis, adding a biological factor to the economic, structural, and cultural factors. The book teaches us not to forget that the phenomena of the social world are highly complex and multifaceted and, therefore, cannot be explained with the application of simplified analytical schemes. Moreover, Almeling’s study, in which she links together several layers of social reality, is an excellent example of how to deal with this task. The book review acquaints readers with the basic points of the book and sex cells’ market construction in the United States; it also focuses on the issues that require further investigation. The reviewer will try to show the importance of including the biological factor in the theoretical framework for market analyses and its possibilities beyond such a “peripheral” and sensitive subject.


Marina Spirina
International conference “’Between the Carrot and the Stick’: Emerging Needsand Forms for Non-State Actors including NGOs and Informal Organizationsin Contemporary Russia”, University of Helsinki, Finland, January 28−29, 2016.
P. 165–172

The international conference “‘Between the Carrot and the Stick’: Emerging Needs and Forms for Non-State Actors including NGOs and Informal Organizations in Contemporary Russia” was held at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, on January 28–29, 2016. The conference was organized by the Centre for Independent Social Research (St. Petersburg, Russia) in collaboration with the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland), Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden), and the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (Oslo, Norway). The organizing committee comprised Linda Cook (Brown University, USA), Ann-Mari Sätre (Uppsala University, Sweden), Elena Bogdanova (Centre for Independent Social Research, Russia), Meri Kulmala (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland), Aadne Aasland (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Studies, Norway), and Eleanor Bindman (Queen Mary College, University of London, United Kingdom).
The conference was dedicated to the problems of non-profit organizations in Russia in the context of the transformation of the political and legal conditions. The conference consisted of six sections, covering such topics as the transformation of the institutional conditions of the NGO sector in Russia, Russian NGOs in an international dimension, and new types of NGO emerging in the changing organizational environment. There were 24 papers presented during the conference by researchers from 10 countries. In addition, a round table was organized with participants from Russian and Finnish NGOs and researchers, during which issues of cooperation between social scientists and representatives of NGOs was discussed.
Over 70 people attended the conference. The working language of the conference was English.

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