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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. 5

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Andrey Shevchuk
Theorizing Digital Platforms: A Conceptual Framework for the Gig Economy
P. 11–53

Contemporary sociology of work pays increasing attention to the study of the work experiences of individuals engaged in digital labour platforms. However, for a deeper understanding of the gig economy, this approach needs to be complemented by an analysis of the digital platforms as organizational structures and social actors. This article proposes a conceptual framework for such analysis, drawing on theoretical insights from economic sociology, institutionalism, and political economy. The role of digital platforms is problematized through the five key categories (organizational innovation, mediator, market infrastructure, private regulator, institutional entrepreneur), which are systematically integrated into the analysis. Digital platforms represent a radical organizational innovation built on technologies capable of effectively coordinating the activities of dispersed agents without requiring their spatial, temporal, or organizational co-presence. This facilitates the growth of businesses benefiting from the mediation of external workers and resources. The communication means facilitated by platforms gradually transform into systemic infrastructure, shaping the fundamental conditions for market functioning. With the ability to unilaterally establish “rules of the game” and exercise algorithmic control, platforms evolve into private market regulators, competing with the state. To strengthen and legitimize their power, platforms actively engage in the political process with the aim of social market reorganization and overall institutional restructuring. At this stage, the conceptual framework loops back to the idea that platforms represent an innovation, the diffusion of which must address the most acute social contradictions related to the role of platforms as mediators, infrastructures, private regulators, and institutional entrepreneurs.
The article demonstrates how the proposed categories can be applied to the analysis of various gig economy issues.

New Translations

Saskia Sassen
Cities in a World Economy (excerpt)
P. 54–65

Economic globalization, accompanied by the emergence of a global culture, has profoundly changed the social, economic and political reality of national states, transnational regions and cities that make up the focus of Cities in a World Economy by Prof. S. Sassen. The presented book shows how some cities—New York, Tokyo, London, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Toronto, Miami and Sydney — have turned into transnational “spaces”. These cities began to have more in common with each other than with the regional centers of their national states, many of which have lost their significance. Moreover, the impact of global processes radically transforms the social structure of cities themselves—changing the organization of labor, income distribution, consumption structure, all that, in turn, creates new patterns of urban social inequality. Understanding how global processes are localized in national territories requires, according to Prof. Saskia Sassen, new concepts and research strategies.
The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the first chapter “Place and Production in the Global Economy”, in which the author raises questions about the content of the concept of globalization and the diversity of its types. The author reveals why she chooses the city as a place for empirical research on economic, political and cultural globalization.

Beyond Borders

Natalia Tonkikh
Family-Work and Private Life of Women: Qualitative Changes in the Remote Working Environment
P. 66–92

The article problematizes the relevance of identifying the relationships between modern remote employment opportunities for women and potential changes in their lives including reproductive plans. The hypothesis of the study is that remote employment conditions, due to their flexibility in the workplace and working time, allow most women to improve their work-life balance as well as plan their future family life. The 1 purpose of the study is to assess women’s opinions about expected or real changes in their work, family, parenthood, and personal spheres of lives in connection with possible or actual participation in remote forms of employment. The article summarizes the results of three Russian women’ surveys containing a monitoring question about the remote working conditions impact on the state of the main spheres of life (2018, N = 1922; 2019, N = 601; 2022, N = 589). Data merging was carried out using the VORTEX-10 program (N = 3112). The array is divided into three groups: (1) women with voluntary remote work experience before the pandemic; (2) women with forced remote work experience during the pandemic; (3) women without remote work experience. Women’ subgroups were additionally identified by age and the presence/absence of children under 15. The results were processed by translating the answers into a unified index system. The findings show the predominance of positive assessments of the remote employment conditions influence on the main respondents’ spheres of life: work, family, parental and personal. Respondents from different subgroups were unanimous noting the positive remote work impact on improving home life (“at home it will become more comfortable”), the health of loved ones, more time to communicate with children, as well as time for personal life, the latter manifested in the emergence of “time for myself” and “for cultural life.” At the same time, women who have voluntary remote work experience are two times more likely to evaluate its benefits for themselves than women who were forced to work remotely. Women with children under 15, compared to other respondents, more often rate the remote employment experience as positive (the difference is 25%). There is no significant connection between the ability to work remotely and plans to have children.

Tatyana Lytkina, Svetlana Yaroshenko
Expulsions of the Russian North: Exclusion Without Rights to Resources
P. 93–127

Based on the materials of the sociological research carried out within the framework of qualitative methodology, the analysis of nature use practices and attitudes to them of the Russian citizens in general and the local community in particular is offered. The developed concept of expulsion assumes the systemic reproduction of the periphery within nation-states and is characterised by the low potential of local communities to influence the formation of development strategies in a region characterised by rich natural resources, as well as limited opportunities for its inhabitants to engage in meaningful activities and manage their personal life situations in a harsh climate and expensive living conditions. It is argued that modern practices of nature management represent consumer and quasitraditional strategies of development of the North. They do not contribute to the formation of sustainable strategies for the development of territories, despite the growing critical attitude of the region’s residents to the current situation and awareness of the deprivation of their right to own and dispose of land and natural resources. Expulsion is the result of the institutionalisation of prolonged and multiple practices of social exclusion. Institutionalisation is triggered by environmental management policies that ignore the interests of indigenous people and, as a consequence, make it difficult to defend the common interest of Northerners. It is characterised by an awareness of the injustice of this situation, reinforced by individual defence strategies and supported by five mechanisms: the mythologisation of the well-being of the North, the exploitative way of developing natural resources, the transfer of the costs of their extraction to the inhabitants of the region, the neglect of the interests of local communities, the promotion of migratory attitudes and the identity of temporary workers. The rule of access to benefits through the workplace, which has been preserved since late Soviet times, is not coping with the new challenges. As a result, resources are extracted in some regions and profits are channelled to other, usually more developed, regions. In the northern regions, where natural resources are extracted in this way, different types of dependencies are formed and impoverishment occurs.

Professional Reviews

Julia Berezhnova
Networks, Resources, and Isomorphism: Corruption from Organizational Sociology Perspective.
P. 128–147

Since the 1990s, corruption has been an object of study in economics, management, law, psychology and sociology. However, many empirical studies on corruption oftentimes ignore the normalization of corruption and its embeddedness in organizations. In this paper, we would like to draw attention to an alternative way of looking at corruption. We highlight three perspectives on corruption: social network analysis, resource dependence theory and neoinstitutionalism, which are the leading perspectives in organizational sociology. We argue that each perspective has a great potential for deepening our understanding of corruption thanks to their focus on organizations which are seen as a basic unit of corruption. Social network analysis explores interpersonal links between corrupted subjects and mediators and their role in corrupted networks. It also puts forward a number of predictors of corruption. Neoinstitutionalism focuses on environmental factors and explores the institutional conditions which encourage or discourage corruption, such as the level of competition, the quality of law and law enforcement, and other firms' behaviour. Resource dependence theory draws our attention to the resources available to organizations and individuals. It helps explore the relationship between power and resources on the one hand, and the field of available corruption activity on the other. Organizational sociology allows us to consider the positional, organizational and environmental factors of corruption. In doing so, it highlights the social embeddedness of corruption and its systematic and routinized nature. To illustrate our point, we review in detail several studies which represent different perspectives and methodologies. In conclusion, we compare the three perspectives, point at their respective advantages and disadvantages, and propose possible directions for future research.


Olga Bessonova
The Role of the Institution of Complaints in the Formation of a New Reality in Russia
P. 148–157

The article continues the discussion initiated by D. Litvintsev about the role of the institution of complaints in Russian economic practice, in particular, in housing and communal services. Previously, O. Bessonova’s articles defended the position of the institution of complaints as an important and effective feedback signal that can be traced throughout the historical development of the distribution economy in Russia and the only legal channel for protecting citizens' rights in the field of service provision at the present time. D. Litvintsev refuted this statement and gave a classification of complaints, on which he based his argument. O. Bessonova’s attempt to show the inconsistency of both the classification of complaints itself and the argumentation built on its basis led D. Litvintsev to strengthen his denial of the importance of the institution of complaints and shift the focus of the discussion to the abuses and dysfunctions of this institution. This article analyzes the opponent’s methodology for constructing a classification of complaints and the vicious logical circle to which it leads. The fact is that the structure of complaints according to D. Litvintsev initially contains subjective and negative evaluations (erroneous complaints, impulsive complaints, denunciations) and on this basis a conclusion is drawn about abuses. At the same time, no statistics, no interviews with management companies, or examples of different types of complaints were given. To move to the semantic level of the discussion, the problematization formulated by E. Bogdanova was used: why administrative complaints were not completely replaced by lawsuits during the construction of the legal system and market economy, but on the contrary, were not only preserved but also expanded the range of their action in modern Russia? The answer to this key question, which forms the essence of this discussion, can only be found within the framework of the theory of distribution economy. Based on this theory, a forecast is made about the role of civil complaints in the transformation of the institutional system of Russia.

New Books

Egor Makarov
The Sociology of the Financial Crisis: Banks, Mortgage-Backed Securities and the Modern Financial System
Book Review: Fligstein N. (2021) The Banks Did It: An Anatomy of the Financial Crisis, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 315 p
P. 158–174

This review considers the main ideas of the last Professor Fligstein’s book The Banks Did It: An Anatomy of the Financial Crisis. The book aims to analyze the financial crisis of 2008 unfolded in the mortgage securitization market in the US and its spread worldwide. The main question of the book is how the business model of mortgage securitization has been developed in the United States of America. The focus is on the structure of the banking sphere and their actions which eventually led to the financial crises. Fligstein applies a historical approach in order to analyze the business model of securitization formed in the mortgage credit market, which ultimately led to the global financial disaster. He underlines the vitality of the financial system for the economy as a whole and points out intrinsic ties between them. Within his sociological framework, the author of the book proves two major ideas. The first is that markets and the state are mutually interrelated and constitute one another. This means that the financial market is actually embedded in the sociopolitical context and shaped by the government’s actions. The second idea is that in order to understand the nature of the financial market it is crucial to analyze the business model emerged in the market. It may help forecast potential consequences of some particular economic activities and processes. The conclusion of the book is (following the title of the book) that the banks did it, although under the developing framework of mortgage securitization which roots are traced back to the crisis of the loans and savings banking model. Not only is the fundamental empirical analysis presented in the book, but also the solid economic sociology framework is successfully applied to the understanding of the financial crisis. This book is highly recommended to specialists in social sciences, as well as to the general public interested in financial crises and systems.

Supplements (in English)

Amrita Nugraheni Saraswaty, Maryunani, Sri Muljaningsih, Putu Mahardika Adi Saputra
Are We Being Rational? Economics Perspectives on Sacred Natural Sites Commodification
P. 175–192

Socio-economic and cultural changes due to massive tourism development have presented a new paradigm for the existence and the decision to use water. This study explores the embeddedness and expectation of actors depicted in the socio-economic dynamics of economic development and management choices for Bali’s Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) commodification. This study employs a qualitative approach with a case study design. From the findings, social networking can be classified into relational and structural embeddedness. The commodification of specific locations in rural areas is strongly related to spiritual values assigned to traditional sacred sites, associated with a specific religious tenet, belief, or place of worship in rural areas. Furthermore, the commercialization of holy water resources can be seen as a decision-making process, driven as it is by the anticipation of future economic benefits such as higher profits or the creation of jobs, as well as future cultural and social benefits such as the wish to advance tourism or protect cultural assets. Belief in the future value of economic benefit is constituted through the narratives actors use to make sense of a monetary situation and the everyday experience of using money. There may also be concerns about the environmental effects of commodification and ownership of it. Based on these results, future research must abandon static models that try to explain social order stability or social stratification reproduction. Although the past cannot predict decisions, past experiences affect actors’ capacity. Projective thinking is essential for generating viable options and choosing a course of action.

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