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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.

2019. Vol. 20. No. 4

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword (Vadim Radaev)
P. 9–12

Ovsey Shkaratan (1931–2019)
P. 13

New Texts

Katerina Guba
To be the Flagship Journal of Russian Sociology: When the Mission Matters
P. 14–38

The article focuses on the review process employed by academic journals from the perspective of the sociology of organization. We propose a scheme that takes into consideration what is more important for editorial boards (legitimacy or effectiveness) and how they confirm their legitimacy claims (through outputs in the form of papers or through procedures). The conceptual advantage of the scheme is illustrated by the case study of the journal, Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya (Sociological Studies), for the period from 1992 till 2011. Based on an analysis of the journal headings (491 cases of headings and 1230 published papers) and 8 interviews with editors, it is shown that the main task of the editorial board is to represent the discipline in all its diversity through the structural divisions of the journal space and the wide geographical coverage of the authors. Accomplishing this mission of representation in a situation with scarce resources can be maintained only through a special editorial style of the journal, which differs from the obligatory double-blind peer reviewing of all manuscripts submitted. When the editorial office has clear tasks related to the content of the journal, the most appropriate form is the network form of governance because external peer reviews make it difficult to fill journal space. In the acquisition of manuscripts, a network search is combined with the incoming submissions; the crucial role in decision-making belongs to the editor-in-chief. These practices diminish the quality of published manuscripts that are selected for publication in the journal. We explain how less control of editorial practices through the efforts of editors confirm a journal’s claim to fulfill its mission.

Alexander Chepurenko
Flexible Organizational Structure and Typology of the Informal Small Entrepreneurship in Russia. Evidence of a Longitude (2013–2015]
P. 39–69

In this article, based on relevant domestic and foreign literature, the institutional (i.e., “narrower”) approach to the definition of informal entrepreneurship and the informal entrepreneurial activity are substantiated, and an analysis of their causes and practices in the conditions of modern Russia is delivered. Using data from the panel study of start-ups and small entrepreneurs conducted by the author (Moscow, 2013–2015), the paper addresses the following issues: (1) Are there any differences in the nature of ownership relations in those businesses that are partially or primarily informally led, from the classical property relations in entrepreneurial firms described in academic literature? (2) What are the types of SMEs, and why are those that use informal practices more common? (3) What role does interaction with State control and law enforcement bodies play in decision making of entrepreneurs as to whether to operate informally, and what are the possible alternatives? (4) What are the comparative advantages and risks/constraints of informal entrepreneurship? (5) Is there entrepreneurial motivation and the inclination for informal kinds of activity in the business and, if so, how?
The main evidence of the article consists in the following: an important reason for the informality in microand small businesses is a diffuse structure of property relations, which is a hybrid (mixed) form of a market and firm. An own typology of entrepreneurs is invented, based on various combinations of entrepreneurial motivation and levels of formalization of the latter. As a result, four ideal types of entrepreneurs are introduced, namely “stars,” “non-routine entrepreneurs,” “simpletons,” and “marginals.” The two latter are the main actors of the informal entrepreneurial activity of legally registered businesses and totally informal entrepreneurship, respectively.
In conclusion, there are some practical recommendations formulated on opportunities to reduce informal entrepreneurial practices, based, among others, on the understanding of the differences between the aforementioned ideal types of entrepreneurs.

New Translations

Colin Crouch
Will the Gig Economy Prevail? (an excerpt)
P. 70–77

The book Will the Gig Economy Prevail? by Prof. Colin Crouch is devoted to the “gig economy,” which is seen as set to gradually replace the costly rigidities of the old-fashioned employment contract. In this book, Colin Crouch takes a step back and questions this logic. He shows how the idea of an employee— a stable status that involves a bundle of rights—has maintained a curious persistence. Examining the ways companies are attacking these rights, from proffering temporary work to involuntary part-time work to “gigging,” he reveals the paradoxes of the situation and argues that it should not and cannot continue. He goes on to propose reforms to reverse the perverse incentives that reward irresponsible employers and punish good ones, setting out an agenda for a realistic future of secure work.
The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the first chapter—“The Rise of Precarious Work”—in which the author considers the notion of the “gig economy” and issues associated with its expansion. It also describes the structure of this book.

Beyond Borders

Natalia Veselkova, Mikhail Vandyshev, Elena Pryamikova, Anna Danilova
Everyday Mobility of Youth in Small Ural Cities
P. 78–113

The article discusses practices with regard to the daily mobility of young people in the middle-sized Ural monotowns of Revda and Krasnoturyinsk. Both cities enter the orbits of the agglomerations, one of which is formed around Ekaterinburg, and the other in the north of the region. Similar in size, they are located close to (Revda) and far from (Krasnoturyinsk) the regional center. The population of Revda is growing, and that of Krasnoturyinsk, on the contrary, is decreasing. Practices with regard to the daily mobility of the population of these cities depend on the existing transport network, various deficits, and information resources. We are interested in two expressions of everyday transport mobility: internal and external. Mobility practices develop in trajectories and routes that become elements of urban spaces and fill the territory’s transport infrastructure, giving it social significance and a kind of “weight,” depending on who actualizes these trajectories and how often. The focus of the study is the experience of young citizens, because it is they who, firstly, broadcast the assessments of the transport situation in the city; secondly, they actively move around the city both with parents/relatives and with friends or alone; thirdly, it is the young people, especially after graduation, that create the flow of outgoing mobility. During 2018, 60 individual semiformalized interviews with experts and residents of the studied cities and 11 group discussions among high school students and college students (224 participants) using drawing techniques constituted the empirical basis of the study.
The attractiveness for young people of such territories as Revda and Krasnoturinsk is largely based on the diversity of places and the ability to give existing ones new meanings. The results of the study show that the space of their town is considered to be mastered and well-known by young people, which increases interest in other, less familiar territories. The expansion of mobility opportunities in the format of agglomerations does not contribute to the intention of schoolchildren to return to their hometown after receiving a vocational education, which creates a problem in providing enterprises with highly qualified personnel. Thus, the development of the daily mobility of youths is not an opposition to territorial rootedness and affection, but creates new challenges for the development of a local, regional, and interregional labor market.

New Books

Natalia Karmaeva
Why Should We Pay More Attention to Skills Deployment?
Book Review: Buchanan J., Finegold D., Mayhew K., Warhurst C. (eds.) (2017) The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 756 p.
P. 114–125

In this book, the issues of skills formation and utilization in the system of formal education and in the labor market are discussed. The recent mainstream concepts of skills are critically analyzed alongside the less known, alternative perspectives. The book addresses several myths related to skills formation and deployment. The first one concerns the relationship between skills and wages; the second is about the demand for “soft” skills in the future economy; the third one addresses the growth of high-skilled jobs; and the fourth one looks at supply-led skills policies. In the handbook, the necessity of a paradigmatic shift from skills formation towards their better utilization is discussed across the fields of education sciences, economics, and political studies. Based on the analysis of recent empirical evidence, the authors elaborate the concepts of social construction of skills, “skills ecosystems,” capabilities and skills, and others. The authors compare institutions and skills policies, including the systems of qualifications, in various countries. Still, most of the empirical illustrations and theoretical concepts presented in the book refer rather to the developed market economies, whereas the analysis of the situation in other countries, in particular, in BRICS, is quite limited. Nevertheless, the handbook is without doubt of high interest to the Russian readership, as it is, probably, the first successful attempt to systematize and critically reassess the existing knowledge in the fields of skills formation and utilization.

Oksana Dorofeeva
Mikolaj Piskorski’s “Social Strategy”: A Recipe for Profiting from Internet Platforms, to Which a Sociologist Has Many Questions
Book Review: Piskorski M. J. (2016) A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 275 p.
P. 126–138

Mikolai Piskorski’s book, with a somewhat misleading title (because he is not interested in media at all), offers an approach to analyzing human interaction and evaluating the effectiveness of Internet platforms, with which readers should learn how to use Internet platforms for profit. Human interaction is seen as rational behavior, in terms of benefits and costs—the latter, according to Piskorski, should be reduced by Internet platforms. It is assumed that in return for companies helping people communicate with each other through social platforms, users will be ready to do something for the companies—pay more for their products, or do free work (bring new customers, generate content). Piskorski demonstrates how his approach works, both by analyzing how platforms (for example, Facebook, Twitter, dating applications, LinkedIn) manage to reduce interaction costs and by showing examples of business strategies of different companies (for example, American Express, Nike) that use the platforms.
Despite the fact that the book gives the impression of being oriented not only (and, it seems, not so much) to the academic audience, but also to practitioners, it has the ambition to influence economists and sociologists as well. In this regard, the author of the review sees it as her task to look at the work of Piskorski, considering its position in the space of existing social theory in both economics and sociology. Piskorski sees the novelty of his approach in its attention to the social, interactions, and social norms, but Piskorski’s book remains deeply economic in its nature and therefore can be met with classical sociological criticism—reproaches for statements that are too universal and insensitivity to context. These properties of Piskorski’s approach are at times detrimental to the analysis of diverse and extremely interesting data and leave room for critical commentary from the field of Internet research.


XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, April 6 –10, 2020, Moscow
P. 139–140

Supplements (in English)

Ovsey Shkaratan (1931–2019)
P. 141

Boris Belyavskiy
The Future We Create: Fictional Expectations as a Tool of Social Dynamics
Book Review: Beckert J. (2016) Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 384 p.
P. 142–150

This paper is a review of Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics, written by Jens Beckert and published in 2016. Prof. Beckert leads the Max-Plank Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. His works are in the fields of new economic sociology, economic anthropology and valuation studies. The last approach largely owes its existence to Beckertian theorizing. Imagined Futures highlights temporal perception in capitalist societies and the role of future expectations in the processes of capitalist dynamics. Beckertian theses also justify the importance of valuation studies and revise the role of economic forecasts. According to his central idea, economic forecasts cannot provide reliable future predictions due to the ontological uncertainty described by economic theory itself. Instead of looking into the future, the main function of forecasts is posited to be the coordination of social actions. The reduction of uncertainty provided by economic forecasts is essential for effective market function and the stability of social dynamics.
This review proposes an interpretation of the theories outlined in the book and seeks to emphasize the importance of the author’s conclusions for valuation studies, new economic sociology and especially for studying the performative side of economic theory. The first part of the paper suggests the deeper historical roots of Imagined Futures. Next, the alternative philosophical frame for fictional expectations is discussed, and a systematization of fictional expectations is proposed. The paper’s second part problematizes capitalistic production and consumption described by Beckert as the foundation of the modern social order. Additionally, an ontological sense of future planning and capitalist dynamics is introduced in the context of symbolic consumption. The paper finishes by describing another aspects of performativity made by models of economic theory.

XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, April 6 –10, 2020, Moscow
P. 153

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