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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. 5

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

David Khumaryan
Flexible Management in the IT and Creative Sector: Decentralized Capitalism?
P. 11–36

The article presents the results of the study of the non-material labor organization modes in Russian companies in the IT and creative industries. The paper explores the connection between the flexible structure and the actual form of labor management, and the process of implementation of flexible development methodology (Agile) in the organization of knowledge-intensive firms. The author problematizes the validity of the statement, common in the theoretical and empirical literature, about the relationship between the Agile organizational designs and decentralized forms of management, expressed in the autonomy of labor and reducing the degree of managerial control. The study aims to empirically test the thesis using data from 30 interviews with middle management of companies that combine organizational flexibility and flexible management approaches. The purpose and the research question are based on the analysis of the current literature in the field of organizational research, management, and labor process theory. The description of the research results is divided into two blocks—the analysis of management practices at the “periphery” of the flexible firm, and the management processes in its “core” (following the terminology proposed by John Atkinson). According to the study, Agile management methods form a symmetrical response to the flexibilization of the organizational structure, allowing to improve the quality of management, the degree of transparency, and the predictability of production processes. Implementation of the Agile-methodology is accompanied by standardization and intensification of labor process; the increased role of centralized planning and control; and better accounting of working operations. A deeper division of labor due to the decomposition of operations significantly changes the functionality of management and redefines the balance of power and authority in the firm. The theoretical conclusions of the study indicate that further development of management methods in the described direction can have a negative impact on the quality of professional communication and functioning of horizontally organized professional communities within the firm, and can also decrease productivity in knowledge-intensive industries.

New Translations

Thorstein Veblen
The Economic Theory of Woman’s Dress
P. 37–44

This is a Russian translation of an essay that Thorstein Veblen wrote in 1894. The essay describes ironically the social practices around the acquisition and wearing of the woman’s dress. Many references are made to this interesting source, but we have not been able to identify its accurate translation into Russian and decided to fill the gap. “The Economic Theory of Woman’s Dress” was written for Popular Science Monthly. Like some other papers of Veblen, this one got published in a magazine carrying popular science content to the general reader, which does not preclude its academic significance. The essay has subsequently been republished in reputable volumes. Duke University Press generously granted the rights for a Russian language translation for the Journal of Economic Sociology from a book released in 2000. Veblen hasn’t attached an abstract to his original essay, perhaps in line with the policy of the magazine. This foreword from the translators does not intend to cover all the original author’s ideas and messages. “The Economic Theory of Woman’s Dress”, just like the classical “The Theory of the Leisure Class” from the same author, describes the customs of a particular social strata, including the custom to spend wastefully and conspicuously in order to signal pecuniary strength within a given social environment. The conspicuous expensiveness and novelty of the woman’s dress and the related adornments serve precisely that purpose. Veblen shows the line of progress from the primitive efforts of the savage to beautify himself with gaudy additions to his person to a complex dress of a contemporary woman of upper classes. The three cardinal principles of the theory of woman’s dress, nevertheless, remain relevant. Without a sophisticated wording typical of many armchair scholars, Veblen uses clear and forceful language to explain the woman’s dress as an economic fact and the drivers of aggressive wasteful spending that dress implies.

Beyond Borders

Irina Sizova, Maya Rusakova, Anastasia Alexandrova
The Job Seekers Market and the Frictions of Finding Jobs on Online Platforms
P. 45–77

The article examines the state of the labor market of job seekers and frictions that prevent effective search behavior on modern online platforms. Matching is increasingly beginning to depend on the specifics of human capital and modern digital technologies. In general, job search on the Internet includes both a traditional set of problems (segmentation and marginalization of the labor force) and produces new ones, which, first of all, include information and communication interference and distractions, united in the literature by the term search frictions. In the theoretical part of the article, based on a review of existing literature, the problems that complicate the job search are analyzed. Unresolved problems contribute to the formation of a “spot” labor market, which accelerates the inflation of education, wages and the struggle for talent. At the same time, the (online) labor market is growing. While not in crisis, its condition can be characterized as “sluggish”, which means that a long job search and selection of personnel are coupled with a large number of fictitious and unsuitable offers from both sides. The second part of the article contains the results of the author's sociological study of the features of the functioning of the Russian online labor market for job seekers (by the method of statistical research of a structured array of cv data provided by the state service “Jobs in Russia”). The analysis showed that relying solely on the significant scale of the online job search site does not guarantee citizens assistance in finding a job. The low quality of the platform, the pronounced regionalization of the market, the existence of discriminatory practices (gender-based job search strategies, high wage dispersion), and the lack of a job search culture, on the one hand, are consistent with the labor market development tendencies in Western countries. On the other hand, a lot of friction narrows the chances of successful employment for job seekers and leads to a general stagnation of the market. The studied state platform, despite the presence of young and highly educated candidates, fully meets all the signs of a “sluggish” and weak labor market, in which “imperfect” categories of candidates dominate with a focus on “simple” signals to the employer, and as a result, on a non-optimal job search result.

Debut Studies

Polina Alekseeva
Young Russians’ Pathways to Marriage: The Role of Networks
P. 78–108

How do young Russians get married? With the second demographic transition and the "great transformation", individualization and marketization of romantic relationships, the pathway to marriage seems to be reminiscent of a job search. The latter, according to Granovetter, is characterized by "the strength of weak ties". But if the labor market implies mobility and career building, marriage logic denies them—scarcely do people get married in order to get divorced and build "marriage careers". This controversy makes Granovetter's theory ambivalent in the marriage search field. So, this paper aims at uncovering the role weak and strong ties play in young Russians' marriage trajectories. 16 biographic interviews were conducted and concentric sector method and thematic coding were used. Although weak ties, especially those on Internet, showed their importance at the first meeting stage, yet further pathway to marriage required kinship network overlap and moving from weak to strong ties. Kinship ties were also a source of social capital, giving information about the future spouse. Network overlap, however, could be complicated by negative relationships one had in their parental family. This implies “path dependency”: if strong ties had not been built in one’s parental family, it would be difficult to build them in a new affinity network. As for the marriage celebration stage, once again kinship networks and bonding social capital played an important role with the latter having been converted into financial resources. So, having begun the analysis with Granovetter's theory, we then moved to network analysis in an anthropological manner, paying specific attention to the strong tie formation process and kinship networks.Keywords: networks; embeddedness; pathways to marriage; network approach; weak ties; strong ties; social capital; marriage market.

New Books

Yuliya Belova
On Thin Ice: Alcohol Promotion by Sport Resources
Book Review: Gee S. (ed.) (2020) Sport, Alcohol and Social Inquiry: A Global Cocktail (Research in the Sociology of Sport, vol. 14), Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited. 178 p
P. 109–120

Commercialization and the subsequent transformation of sports into an industry contributed to the increasingly conspicuous introduction of alcohol into the daily routine of athletes and fans. Under the current conditions, the partnership of sports organizations with the alcohol industry has become a legitimate phenomenon and has firmly rooted in the life of society, increasing social risks. At the same time, in public consciousness and scientific opinion, sport is still associated with health and constructive social behavior, but this value is increasingly being questioned. The authors of the peer-reviewed book Sport, Alcohol and Social Inquiry: A Global Cocktail (research in the sociology of sport) criticize the current situation and speak out against legislative easing for alcohol in sports to keep its true value. The monograph is an example of a sociological analysis of modern contradictions in the field of the promotion of alcoholic products by means of sports (at various levels of the sports hierarchy in an explicit or latent form). The authors demonstrate the clash of economic, political, and cultural aspects of the interaction between the state, the alcohol industry, fan groups, sports communities, and public health advocates based on protecting certain interests. The text presents vivid examples of the introduction of alcohol into the sphere of organizing sports (including big sports). The book covers a wide geography, representing a collection of cases on the “alcoholization of sports” in the United States, Brazil, Australia, France, Sweden, New Zealand and Japan.

Darya Moiseeva, Olga Kuzina
Rethinking Money
Book Review: Dodd N. (2014) The Social Life of Money, Princeton: Princeton University Press. 444 p
P. 121–132

In his book The Social Life of Money, Nigel Dodd, a professor at the LSE, presents the results of his research on money. The main purpose of the book is to reconsider the nature of money, especially its social nature. The author explores the possibilities to change society by rethinking the existing economic, sociological, philosophical, psychological, anthropological, linguistic and other social science approaches to understanding money. Referring to the history of the origin of money, Dodd showed how the theories of the invention of money proposed by K. Menger, B. Laum, G. Simmel, M. Mauss, F. de Saussure, M. Agliette, and A. Orléan, shape our ideas about money and the ways of its social construction. Based on classical economic theories, the author challenges the role of money in the reproduction of social conflicts and inequality, as well as the relationship of money with credit and debt. Dodd describes how the transition from the perception of debt as a moral obligation to debt as a monetary obligation took place and the consequences of this transition. Writing about various aspects of the functioning of money, Dodd notes that for the completeness of the analysis it is important to understand how people solve the problem of managing an overabundance of money and how this determines the cultural aspects of the existence of money. He explains his sociological view on money and applies it to the analysis of the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its consequences. The author discusses the sources of the crisis, describes theoretical perspectives that underpin the previous and existing financial systems, and suggests ways to possible positive transformation of money in the future by explaining several monetary utopias. The Social Life of Money is an example of thorough analytical and methodological accuracy and profound research on money in sociology. This book can be of high value both for experts whose research is focused on money and for anyone interested in the development of social theory today.


Olga Bessonova
The Institutional Nature of Complaints in Market and Distributional Environments
P. 133–144

This paper is based on the polemics with the author of the article “Complaints are not Gifts. Dysfunctionality of the Institution of Complaints in the Field of Housing and Communal Services in Russia.” The main focus of polemics is the conceptualization of the subject of research. The main thesis of “Complaints are not gifts” follows the widely accepted view that as a feedback mechanism, the institution of complaints is ineffective. The common mistake in the study of complaints is narrowing the consideration of complaints to their socio-psychological aspects, appealing to behavioral characteristics and the concept of ‘Russian mentality,’ and ignoring the very institutional nature of complaints as the most important element of the hierarchical system of management. The “Complaints are not gifts” fails to eschew this blunder. In the present article, I will reveal the essential characteristics of the institution of complaints, and explain why this institution has been rationalized and supported by the authorities throughout the historical development of the Russian socio-economic system. I will also review the complaints that formed the empirical data for the “Complaints are not gifts” article. These complaints are used by the Russian housing and utilities management companies as a template if they choose a competitive market strategy of complaining against their clients. Finally, I will review the prospects for the institution of complaints in Russia. Apart from the general expansion of the institution of complaints, we can expect its digitalization and the creation of state portals in the regions for receiving complaints. These will not, however, change the institutional nature of complaints. The institutional environment in Russia is gradually moving away from the market forms of governance to the system of “razdatok”, or central distribution system characteristic of the USSR period. Considering this, and also the fact that the state segment makes up to eighty percent of the entire Russian economy today, private utility service companies will have to adapt more actively to the experience of using customer complaints to survive in this environment.

Supplements (in English)

Alexandra Lipasova
Why Do Women Still Quit Their Jobs? Women’s Employment Transitions in the European Context
P. 145–165

Vast amounts of research are devoted to the ‘motherhood penalty’: discrimination in hiring, salary, and leadership opportunities for working mothers relative to childless women. For a significant number of women, ‘employed’ is not a continuous uninterrupted status but rather a type of activity that can be paused for an indefinite period in order to pursue other life goals, such as raising a family. A large proportion of women do not return to the labour market after giving birth, and others switch to part-time or stay out of work for a long time before returning. Using data from the first and the second waves of the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) for Austria, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Hungary, and Russia, I explore which factors influence the probability that women employed fulltime will go part-time or withdraw from paid work (i. e., become inactive). I analyse the sample of 1446 childless women employed full-time during the first wave of the study. This paper focuses on women’s individual characteristics and their employment as well as contextual factors. The results show that, apart from the transition to motherhood, the factors that influence women’s participation in the labour market are traditional gender ideology and lack of state support.

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