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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.

2022. Vol. 23. No. 1

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Marina Shabanova
Throwing Food Away and Food Rescue Practices in Russia (Microlevel Analysis)
P. 11–38

About one-third of all food produced in the world is thrown away. The higher the development level of the country, the more this practice is contributed to by microlevel actors, i.e., consumers (households). Food waste is a serious environmental, economic, social, and ethical issue, and a search for effective ways to alleviate this issue conforms to sustainable development goals. The problem is systemic, and its theoretical conceptualization follows this path. However, some aspects of this problem have not been examined equally: one of its least studied aspects is the relationship between (not) throwing food away, on the one hand, and actual food rescue practices implemented by consumers, on the other. Capturing this relationship is important for understanding both the nature of the food waste phenomenon and the comparative role of various recovery practices, including new ones (e.g. peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing), and the civil society potential in alleviating the waste issue.
Based on a representative survey (N = 2,000 respondents, November 2020), the levels and factors of Russians’ engagement in groups with different attitudes toward throwing food away have been identified (“not throwing away food,” “throwing away edible food,” and “throwing away spoiled food”). We used regression analysis to estimate the relationship between the probability of being included in any of these groups and the involvement in various food rescue practices (feeding animals and food waste composting, extending the shelf life of products, and donating unneeded food to others, including P2P food sharing). It has been shown that consumers using social channels for food rescue (both practicing food sharing and not), ceteris paribus, are less likely to throw away edible food and more likely to throw away spoiled food (at least during the pandemic, although probably this is not so much due to the pandemic). Conclusions are made about the importance of combining social rescue practices with other types of food rescue and about the potential of civil society in mitigating the issue.

Ekaterina Slobodenyuk
Social Mobility of Russians in Terms of Life Chances and Risks
P. 39–59

This paper focuses on the issues of social mobility and immobility of Russians in the neo-Weberian stratification hierarchy of Russian society, based on indicators of life chances. Social mobility is interpreted as a transition between three mass strata. Trajectories of mobility (rates and factors) are analyzed using the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) panel data of a six-year interval from 2013 to 2018 and the group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) method. It is shown that a quarter of Russians moved between strata. Mobility usually occurs over a short distance. Cases of significant life changes that would lead to transition between polar strata (low and high) are exceptions to the rule. The chances of getting into polar strata depend on the quality of human potential and, as a result, on individuals’ places in the system of industrial relations. Only highly qualified Russians with good health, who also originate from highly educated families, have high chances of getting into positively privileged (high) strata. For these Russians, composite rents work. Risks of moving down to low strata are present for Russians with low education, bad health and parents with low education, mainly due to employment in bad job positions that violate employees’ rights. The paper shows that social background continues to play a significant role in shaping chances of social wellbeing and mobility. It also draws attention to the fact that skills in use of information technology form a new basis for inequality between people.

New Translations

Neil Fligstein, Doug McAdam
A Theory of Fields (Excerpt)
P. 60–100

The central goal of this book is to explicate an integrated theory that explains how stability and change are achieved by social actors in circumscribed social arenas. The theory rests on a view that sees strategic action fields, which can be defined as mesolevel social orders, as the basic structural building blocks of modern political/organizational life in the economy, civil society, and the state. In constructing a new perspective, the authors draw upon the rich body of integrative scholarship produced by economic sociologists, institutional theorists in both sociology and political science, and social movement scholars.
The Journal of Economic Sociology is pleased to publish the first chapter, “The Gist of It.” In this chapter, the authors sketch the basic features of this perspective in some detail, differentiating the new elements from the old, including Bourdieu, Giddens, institutional theory, network analysis, and social movement theory.

Beyond Borders

Anna Lukyanova
Self-Employment, Secondary Jobholding, and Labor Income Inequality
P. 101–124

Using data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey from 2000 to 2014, this study analyzes the evolution of various sources of labor income: salaried employment in a primary job, self-employment in a primary job, secondary employment, and irregular earnings. The composition of income sources reflects the strategies of adaptation to economic shocks, institutional changes, and technological innovations. The paper contributes to the debates about the precarization of employment and, more broadly, to the development of sociological views about social class structure.
The importance of salaried employment in a single job markedly increased between 2000 and 2014, both as the share of the workforce and as the fraction of total labor incomes. Simultaneously, the prevalence of secondary job holding and irregular work activities declined, which indicates the stabilization of the social structure. The results show that additional labor incomes and total labor income are distributed less evenly than earnings from a primary job. The observed changes in the structure of employment are associated with a 7–8% reduction in labor income inequality, which exceeds the contribution of changes in the education structure or population aging. Multiple jobholding retains its role as a source of social differentiation, despite a significant reduction in its incidence.

Ilya Ermolin, Linas Svolkinas, Pavel Suvorkov, George Holmes, Simon J. Goodman
Fieldwork Challenges Stemming from Doing Studies in Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT)
P. 125–153

This article presents the authors’ self-reflections on the challenges they faced as researchers during their long-term study of the illegal wildlife trade of sturgeon meat and caviar and Caspian seals’ skins and oil that they carried out from 2012 to 2019. The authors focus on the following main topics: personal health and security issues resulting from the activities of the police and the Federal Security Service, the recruitment and training of local assistants and university students, intergenerational and gender gaps that exhibit a strong influence on the development of trust between researchers and respondents, the network density of market dynamics and speed of communication through the market, and the shift in environmental legal regulations as an influence on current studies. In addition, the authors stress the lack of appropriate infrastructure to conduct systemic data collection and local populations’ unawareness of research fieldwork on social and economic issues ever undertaken in the areas under study. The authors show that for the study of informal economy activities to prove successful, several points should be identified: first, the formation of identity to be considered acceptable in the local community so that the researcher is perceived as a member of the community; second, the influence of gender boundaries on research driven by the ever-increasing complexity of social interactions set in different social and cultural contexts; and, third, time and funding as two of the most important things that should be taken into account when planning field studies, depending on how strong the illegality is and whether assistants are ready to face “others” from their own community.

New Books

Daria Lebedeva
A Guide for Market-Based Interventions and Public Problems
Book Review: Neyland D., Ehrenstein V., Milyaeva S. (2019) Can Markets Solve Problems? An Empirical Inquiry into Neoliberalism in Action, London: Goldsmiths Press. 324 p
P. 154–170

Is it possible to apply economic mechanisms to solve public problems, especially sensitive and morally rooted ones? Can markets effectively and fairly regulate social issues in the public policy field? During the last several decades, with the spread of market mechanisms in the social order, theoreticians and practitioners have been searching for market-based interventions. While a significant body of literature criticizes neoliberalism for its limitations and contradictions, the collective of the sociologists Daniel Neyland, Véra Ehrenstein, and Sveta Milyaeva suggest in their book Can Markets Solve Problems? An Empirical Study of Neoliberalism in Action problematizing not only the role of the market in the implementation of government interventions but also the very definition of the market—its constituent relationships, practices, meanings, and calculative devices. Drawing on science and technology studies (STS), the authors propose looking behind the processes of market assembly work and investigating how in the course of market-based interventions social problems, entities, and relationships are shaped, transformed, and allow the achievement of certain results in public policy.
Based on the empirical materials of an extensive ethnographic study (legal and historical documents and semi-structured interviews with experts, managers, and stakeholders), the authors use six empirical cases to illustrate how competition, investment and return, property, trade and exchange, incentives, and selling can, in practice, not only become instruments of market-based intervention but also shape and redefine the subject matter itself. The book will be of interest and beneficial to researchers in the field of sociology of markets as a source of rich descriptions of markets, which generally constitute a subject of active government regulation and which become a platform for the symbolic struggle of various market actors.

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