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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.

2023. Vol. 24. No. 3

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Dmitry Kurakin, Ilias Latypov
Ecosystems of Choice: On Some Limitations of Rational Choice Theory and a Strategy for Overcoming Them
P. 11–32

This article aims to revise and refine the concept of choice in sociology, primarily in the context of inequality studies. Despite the criticisms and known limitations of rational choice theories, alternative theoretical perspectives on choice often remain marginalized, especially in empirical studies. Recent advances in sociological theory and the sociology of culture and cognition allow problematizing this influential approach, and building a strategy to overcome its limitations. First, traditional approaches to decision-making presume a deficit, whereas excess often dominates within contemporary social life. Second, in addition to rationality and the actions of individuals themselves, choice is often associated with a certain amount of luck. In the studies of inequality, luck emerges as one of the key factors of choice, since the privileged and the unprivileged differ greatly in their ability to overcome or minimize the consequences of setbacks, and conversely to enjoy the fortunate events. A third argument for reconsidering the problem of choice arises from advancements in neuro-cognitive sciences. Numerous studies conducted in recent decades have shown that most of our decisions defy the principles of rational choice theory. The previously dominant computational theory of cognition has been replaced by distributive models that extend cognitive processes beyond the confines of the brain. Finally, contemporary sociological studies of culture and inequality turn their attention to the cultural processes that shape choice and their emotional dimension. The authors conclude with a strategy of going beyond atomic acts of choice to encompass the entire “ecosystems” of choice.

Andrei Vernikov, Anna Kurysheva
Living Beyond Means as Reflected in Old Russian Proverbs
P. 33–57

This paper has its focus on the popular discourse of Russian people regarding living on credit and consumer debt. Proverbs and sayings serve as empirical material containing the institutions that shape economic culture of a certain historical period. We studied the relevant sections of the collection “Proverbs of the Russian People” published by Vladimir Ivanovich Dahl in 1862. The identified elements of discourse are combined into three groups: (1) living within one’s means and what impedes it; (2) borrowing by households; and (3) private lending. The main empirical result is that popular discourse, which prevailed until mid-19th century at least, was blatantly critical of debt bond and the phenomena that led to it by undermining the financial viability of a household. These are, primarily, overconsumption, consumerism, and excessive impulsive spending. Some of the value commandments encourage financial prudence and self-reliance based on self-restraint in consumption and spending. Other value commandments attack the properties which erode the foundation for self-reliance and financial prudence. The principles of self-restraint and self-reliance resonate with the contemporary ideas of sustainable development. We argue that further research in the direction that we earmark might change the sign of the existing judgments regarding Russian traditional economic culture, which seems to be a topical and relevant matter nowadays.

New Translations

Bruce Katz, Jeremy Nowak
The New Localism (excerpt)
P. 58–72

The New Localism is a book about cooperation among the state, business and civil society, whose joint efforts, according to the authors, create the genetic code of social change today. The book provides an analysis of the development trajectories of three cities: Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in the United States, and Copenhagen in Europe. Through an exploration of the histories of these cities, Bruce Katz and Jeremy Novak illustrate the work of the new models of development, governance and financing. In addition to examining the historical context of the emergence of new localism, the authors endeavor to predict its future based on its successes and challenges.
The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the first chapter of the book, “Reimagined Power”, where the authors consider the evolving dynamic of power. They observe a shift from the vertically organized commandadministrative system towards a web of horizontal relations that connect diverse sectors of society—state (public), commercial (private) and noncommercial—within local communities. The authors contend that power in the future will rest with problem solvers, thus challenging the conventional notion of power as the ability to coerce or effectively influence individuals’ behavior and decisions.

Beyond Borders

Polina Lavrusevich
To Live with a Pine Wood or To Live in a Pine Wood: Gathering Practices and Space Appropriation (The Case of Karakansky Pine Wood)
P. 73–94

The study focuses on informal gathering practices employed by different groups of nature management agents on the territory of Karakansky pine wood. Karakansky pine wood is a large forest area located within the borders of the Novosibirsk Region and Altai Territory. The practices, observed among social agents with varying degrees of connection to the pine wood (local residents, summer residents and city dwellers-tourists), offer insights into the mechanisms employed to solve the problem of general access to nature resources—a case akin to the tragedy of commons. The research draws upon observational materials and interviews with pine wood residents collected during sociological expeditions conducted in July–September of 2021 and July 2022. At the core of the appropriation practices lies the concept of “living with the pine wood,” which semantically encompasses both economic and ecological aspects. It highlights the inseparability of resource appropriation and contemplation of their present state and well-being, deterring a predatory mentality of “even the flood if after us” (posle nas khot’ potop, meaning “take everything as far as we are not dealing with consequences.”) Presently, the sustenance of the majority of pine wood inhabitants no longer rely significantly on wild mushrooms and berries. However, symbolically, the availability of forest gifts remains important, emphasizing the perception of nature resources as communal. The professionalization of gathering has been observed, with a distinct group of rural residents standing out as gatherers who sell forest products, collected in the vicinity of the points of sale, to urban dwellers visiting the forest for recreation. As the pine wood space is mastered, a network of transitive property relations emerges, manifesting in the concept of “own places” for foragers within the forest. These “own places” serve as individually mastered and appropriated sections of the forest, situated between private and communal property, and can be characterized as individualized common resources. Functioning as a set of norms and rules for nature management, these “own places” serve to maintain social and ecological balances in the pine wood, i.e. provide conflict-free access to a common resource while ensuring their sustainable utilization by curbing excessive personal consumption.

Galina Polynskaya
Utilizing the Linked Associations Methodology: A Case Study on Assessing Patron Satisfaction in the “Bar” Segment. Analysis of Method Effectiveness and Results Obtained
P. 95–130

The article presents a research study on the catering segment known as the bar utilizing the author's constrained association method. This method, compared to other qualitative research approaches, offers simplicity in usage, minimizes the potential for misinterpretation, and allows for swift data processing after collection. It does not necessitate specialized equipment or extensive training, as it can be conducted using common communication platforms like Zoom, Skype, or similar alternatives. Furthermore, this method reduces the risk of distorting respondents' judgments regarding behavioral determinants. It yields detailed data that can be analyzed in various ways, such as association frequency, bond strength, and bond direction. A notable advantage of this method lies in its capacity to identify multiple types of associations with the stimulus word. These encompass semantic associations (between words or concepts), affective associations (between emotions and stimuli), and implicit associations that are not consciously recognized.
By employing the associative method, it becomes feasible to construct both an associative core and an associative network linked to the stimulus word. The utilization of this method has made possible the identification of key attributes that significantly impact customer satisfaction within the Bar segment. These attributes encompass a focus on alcohol; the atmosphere including elements such as music, interior design, and public ambiance; socialization and entertainment options for both active and passive recreation; pricing; and the establishment's opening hours. Furthermore, this method has enabled the identification of various motivations for visiting a Bar, including socializing, celebrating special occasions, networking, dating, seeking entertainment, indulging in gastronomic pleasure by trying new alcoholic beverages, relaxation, watching sports events, and temporarily escaping from personal difficulties. Moreover, it has shed light on interpersonal challenges that arise within Bar settings, as well as the primary risks associated with visiting such establishments and the factors contributing to aggressive behavior among patrons.

New Books

Alexander Kurakin
Suicides in Rural India
Book Review: Suthar S. K. (2022) Dilapidation of the Rural: Development, Politics, and Farmer Suicides in India, London: Palgrave Macmillan. 210 p
P. 130–135

This review presents Sudhir Kumar Suthar's book addressing the issue of farmer suicides in India. The problem of farmer suicides in India is widely recognized by agrarian and rural scholars for several decades. However, the author disputes the proposed explanations of farmer suicides, which tend to primarily focus on economic factors. S. Suthar suggests his own explanation, somewhat Durkheimian in nature, which points to the deterioration of the social structure of traditional rural India. This decay results in the social structure's inability to support and safeguard rural community member, preventing them from committing suicides. The author provides a detailed analysis of the specific aspects that have deteriorated and how these changes have impacted suicides. He underscores the importance of public spaces and extensively describes how they are losing their function of strengthening social solidarity. He explores the decline of the traditional collective actions within rural communities and the erosion of family relations. The main catalysts of transformation, and also destruction, of traditional rural India are the market and the state, which are tearing apart its social fabric from different angles. The author thoroughly considers how market capitalist relations, as well as the state policies promoting rural modernization, displace and substitute traditional social bonds in rural India.

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