Araştırma Makalesi

DOI :10.26650/SJ.2021.41.1.0007   IUP :10.26650/SJ.2021.41.1.0007    Tam Metin (PDF)

Sosyolojinin Piyasayı Keşfi: Ekonomi Sosyolojisi

Emrah Yıldız

Ekonomi sosyolojisinin 1980’lerden itibaren yükselişi, iktisat ve sosyoloji arasındaki sınırların hiç olmadığı kadar yakınlaşmasına imkân tanımıştır. Sosyoloji bir bilim olarak kuruluş evresinde iktisadi olgulara karşı yoğun ilgi beslemiş olmasına rağmen, bu iki bilim arasındaki ilişki 1970’lerin sonuna değin çok sınırlı bir düzeyde kalmıştır. Bu sınırlı ilişki sosyoloji ve iktisadın bilimsel serüvenlerinin bir sonucudur. Sosyolojinin çok uzun bir dönem boyunca Amerikan sosyolojisinin temel gündem maddeleri olan tabakalaşma, toplumsal eylem gibi tartışmalara sahne olması, kurucu isimlerden farklı olarak, sonraki kuşakların iktisadi olgulara karşı ilgisinin sınırlı olmasına neden olmuştur. İktisat cephesinde ise neoklasik düşüncenin hakimiyetiyle beraber matematikle kurulan ilişkinin artması, sosyal bilimlerin diğer alanlarıyla kurulan ilişkinin temel belirleyeni olmuştur. Bunun yanında iktisadın özellikle Amerikan akademisinde sosyal bilimlerin diğer alanlarına nazaran prestijli bir konumda bulunması, iktisadın sosyal bilimler üzerindeki etkisini arttıran diğer bir faktördür. İktisadın sosyal bilimler üzerinde kurduğu tahakküm 1970’lere dek sürmüş, bu yıllarda özellikle kurumsal iktisat ve rasyonalite üzerine yürütülen tartışmalar iktisadı diğer bilimlere sınırlarını açmaya zorlamıştır. Sosyolojinin neoklasik iktisadın merkezi olan piyasa mekanizması üzerine getirdiği eleştiriler; kurumlar, rasyonalite ve organizasyon teorisi gibi iktisadi olguları tartışmaya açmıştır. Bu gelişmeler, özellikle kurumsal iktisat içinde yankı bulurken, sosyoloji içinde yeni ekonomi sosyolojisini doğurmuştur.

DOI :10.26650/SJ.2021.41.1.0007   IUP :10.26650/SJ.2021.41.1.0007    Tam Metin (PDF)

Sociology Discovers the Market: Economic Sociology

Emrah Yıldız

This study aims at clarifying the relationship between economics and sociology since their emergence as a science. The boundaries between the two sciences have merged with one another due to the rise of economic sociology in the mid-1980s. Although sociology has shown close attention to economic phenomena since its birth, the relationship between economics and sociology had not advanced until the late 1970s. The main reason why economics and sociology had had their own territory for a long time can be explained by referring neoclassical economics. The neoclassical approach has alienated economics from the other social sciences due to economics being imbued with mathematics. Furthermore, economics’ prestige at American universities allowed it to dominate over the social sciences. Though this domination over the social sciences has peaked in the 1970s, sociology launched a counter attack on neoclassical economics. All these sociological critiques forced economics to open its borders to the social sciences. These critiques provided sociology with the opportunity to revive economic sociology, also known as new economic sociology, by importing economic phenomena such as market mechanism, rationality, institutions, and organizational analyses onto the sociological agenda.


Introduction This study aims at redefining the borders between economics and sociology from the late 19th century to the present. The borders between economics and sociology have closed twice since their emergence. In the midst of the 19th century, classical sociologists were involved in economic phenomena to gain enlightenment regarding why modernism had emerged in the West instead of anywhere else in the world. Classical sociologists referred historical, comparative, and deductive analyses in their explanations about the roots of Western modernization and the disparities of Western societies. Although they tackled the puzzle from a different perspective, classical sociologists found a middle ground for sociological methodology. After classical sociologists, sociology backed into its own territory and economic phenomena remained out of focus until the 1980s when the rebirth of economic sociology. Economics has abstained from building an intellectual bridge with the other social sciences, even though its history is the longest-standing among the social sciences. The classics of economics involved in the mechanism of wealth and redistribution in the society, however, they had little concern with sociological phenomena such as institutions. In the mid-19th century, neoclassical economic thought, which assumed that individuals act rationally and have perfect information about the market, infiltrated into economics. For neoclassical economists, individual behavior is analyzable using mathematics under these assumptions. By doing so, neoclassical assumptions demote society and promote individual behavior by abstracting the individual from society. This assumption in neoclassical economics is point where economics diverged from sociology because it created an unbridgeable methodological gap between them. Sociological methodology is deductive, whereas economics rests on an inductive methodology as neoclassical economics focus on individual behavior. As sociology analyzes society by referencing historical and comparative methodologies to clarify differences among societies, economics assumes the individual in every society to be a rational actor. The Birth of Economics and Sociology Randall Collins (2005, 26–27) pointed out that economics is the first science to have become involved in phenomenological knowledge. Collins’ argument is based on many drastic changes that occurred in the 17th century, such as the emergence of modern capitalism, nation states, and the bourgeoise as a consequence of European overseas trade. During that century, the main economic thought of mercantilism had been to collect precious metals and to expand foreign markets, thus economics emerged as a knowledge of wealth. After a century, some liberal dissidents who believed mercantilist economic policies were undermining the industrial class in England started scathing attacks on mercantilism. Eventually, Adam Smith published his voluminous work The Wealth of Nations in 1776. However, economics in that century had remained a part of the moral sciences; more than a century would need to pass in order for it to appear as the science of economics (Uygur & Erdogdu, 2012, 3). In the mid-19th century, neoclassical efforts gave birth to economics as a science; neoclassical economists, most prominent among them being Leon Walras, Alfred Marshal, and Karl Menger, reduced economics to a science of individual behavior. Finally, neoclassical economics found its place in London School of Economics in 1864. It was the first economics department in the world. The emergence of economics varied across countries and did not follow the same pattern. While economics in England was shaped by liberal thought, it tended to be a statist doctrine in Germany and France. At this juncture, the disparities existing among these countries in the 19th century should be stressed. While economics in France could not go beyond a political discourse, in Germany it was a social science with solid foundations that would become a main source of German sociology. Sociology, comparing against economics, can be thought of as the newest among the social sciences. Sociology both as a science and as a profession emerged in the late-19th century when industrialism caused economic and social turmoil. During this period, classical sociologists pursued the roots of modern capitalism in Western Europe and its ramifications on society. Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber argued the puzzle from different perspectives by referring comparative historical approaches that considered economic phenomena from a sociological point of view. The Rise of Economics: The Divergence with Sociology Neoclassical domination had enabled economics to be perceived as “scientific”. Through the efforts of neoclassical economists, economics had built its own scientific rules using mathematical methods to winnow out any political discourse in the late-19th century, and the first economic department was established at London School of Economics in 1864. In these years, the science of economics spread around the world; however, the fact that this scientific journey varied from country to country should be underscored. Economics in America can be said to have pursued the European agenda, with its first economics department being established at Harvard University only four years after the one in England. Following Harvard University, many prestigious American universities had founded economics departments by the turn of the century. Economics education in America, like in England, had been developed under the canopy of neoclassical economics; afterward, America became the epicenter of world economics. Economics in Germany had its own peculiarities contrary to America and England due to this tradition being embedded within the social sciences. In other words, economics in Germany had ambiguous frontiers with history and sociology. The German tradition during the 19th century, known as the German Historical School, made the claim of economics’ collaboration with sociology, history, statistics, and law to elucidate economy and society together. The German tradition materialized in the writings of economists such as Friedrich List and Gustav von Schmoller as well as sociologists such as Karl Marx and Max Weber, the prominent figures of sociology. After WWII, economics gained prestige while sociology lost the popularity and domain it had had at the beginning of 20th century. Between 1945-1970, economics took advantage of its mathematical methodology to expand its domain over the social sciences. Furthermore, economics had opportunity to bolster its expanding domain as a profession. As is known, American post-war grand strategy of liberal world order in that period was based on promoting American hegemony through the IMF and the World Bank. During that period, economists played a crucial role in integrating non- Western countries into the liberal world order. American sociology proceeded under the canopy of Parsonian sociology in the years after WWII. Parsons’ conceptualization of society is known to be based on general equilibrium between societal subfields. In this perspective, the concepts of agent, rationality, and organization were relegated, and thus sociology was focused only on social integration to stabilize American society under the severe conditions of the Cold War. In this political atmosphere, American sociology lead by Parsons had no room for economic phenomena such as class interests or individual behavior. The Birth of Economic Sociology After the Parsonian years, sociology brought men back into sociology in the 1960s. This crucial change in the sociological agenda enabled sociology to analyze rationality, organizations, and individual behavior. Thus, economic phenomena had entered into a sociological territory. On the side of economics, neoclassical economics were being criticized by the new institutional economics. According to the new institutionalists, the science of economics needs a more realistic perspective because the neoclassical approach assumes a heavily under-socialized individual. The new institutional economics developed many theoretical approaches to close the neoclassical economics gap at that time. With the rise of (neo)liberalism in the mid-1970s, sociology turned its view toward the market. According to sociologists, new institutional economists tried to close the gap between economy and society by adding a dose of realism. However, for sociologists, they still weren’t considering the social relations that penetrate economic life at different levels. To build a bridge between economic phenomena and sociology, sociologists needed a new theoretical approach, which they called new economic sociology (Granovetter, 1985).

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Yıldız, Emrah,. Sosyolojinin Piyasayı Keşfi: Ekonomi Sosyolojisi.” İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyoloji Dergisi, vol. 0, no. 0, 2019, pp. -. [Database Container],


Yıldız E. Sosyolojinin Piyasayı Keşfi: Ekonomi Sosyolojisi. İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyoloji Dergisi [Internet]. 25 Jul. 2021 [cited 25 Jul. 2021];0(0):-. Available from: doi: 10.26650/SJ.2021.41.1.0007


Yıldız, Emrah. Sosyolojinin Piyasayı Keşfi: Ekonomi Sosyolojisi”. İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyoloji Dergisi 0/0 (Jul. 2021): -.


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