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  • Author: Matias Dewey
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: State concerns about crime and security issues have strongly affected conceptions of economic action outside the law, a traditional field of research in sociology. This increasing encroachment by policy-related concerns on the intellectual framework of the discipline has led, on one hand, to an almost exclusive focus on criminal organizations in the analyses of illegal economic activity. On the other hand, it has led to the downplaying of the importance of classic topics of sociological reflection, such as the embeddedness of action, the moral dimension of illegal products, or the relationship between social change and the spread of illegal exchanges. This short paper problematizes economic action outside the law by taking legal definitions and their effects seriously. It begins with the problem of naturalizing state definitions. This is followed by a discussion of the illegality of illegal markets, which illustrates sociological contributions. Finally, three dimensions of the study of illegal markets are suggested. Overall, the paper lays out a research program for this field of sociological inquiry.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Markets, Sociology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Renate Mayntz
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: In sociology generally, the infringement of legal norms is not treated as a special kind of norm violation, the sociology of law being an obvious exception. The study of illegal markets therefore faces the challenge of distinguishing illegality from legality, and relating both to legitimacy. There is no conceptual ambiguity about the distinction between legal and illegal if legality is formally defined. In practice, (formal) legality and (social) legitimacy can diverge: there is both legitimate illegal action and illegitimate legal action. Illegal markets are a special kind of illegal social system, constituted by market transactions. Illegal markets are empirically related to organized crime, mafia and even terrorist organizations, and they interact both with legal markets and the forces of state order. Where legal and illegal action systems are not separated by clear social boundaries, they are connected by what has come to be called “interfaces”: actors moving between a legal and an illegal world, actions that are illegal but perceived as legitimate or the other way around, and a gray zone of actions that are neither clearly legal nor illegal, and neither clearly legitimate nor illegitimate. Interfaces facilitate interaction between legal and illegal action systems, but they are also sources of tension and can lead to institutional change.
  • Topic: Crime, Markets, Sociology, Law
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elizabeth Carter
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Economists assume increased producer flexibility creates production advantages. So why do inefficient French quality wine producers dominate their flexible, efficient Italian counterparts? French AOC wine producers created “corporatist” producer organizations which served three purposes: encouraged increased product quality information across the supply chain; allowed for the emergence of a unique production style; and enabled producers to define their production methods as “quality” via state regulation. Italian DOC wine producers have fragmented political structures at both the regional and national levels, causing producers to rely more on the price mechanism and less on political structures to coordinate supply chain transactions. Market asymmetries persist across the supply chain, making it difficult for producers to guarantee quality and adversely shaping their potential production and brand strategies. Solving supply chain problems through representative political institutions yields superior economic outcomes than uncoordinated market transactions because the former corrects market power asymmetries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Politics, Regulation
  • Political Geography: France, Italy, Global Focus
  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: At the end of the postwar period, the politically shaped configurations of normatively integrated European political economies differed greatly among “social-market” and “liberal market economies.” Such differences persist even though the characteristic achievements of social market economies have since eroded under the pressures of global capitalism and of European integration. Focusing on European integration from a social-market perspective, there is no question that it has widened the range of individual options. But it has also reduced the capacity of democratic politics to deal with the challenges of global capitalism, and it has contributed to rising social inequality and the erosion of public services and transfers. This paper will first summarize those asymmetries of European integration which have done the most to constrain democratic choices and to shift the balance between capital, labor, and the state by establishing an institutional priority of negative over positive integration and of monetary integration over political and social integration. It will then explain why efforts to democratize European politics will not be able to overcome these institutional asymmetries and why politically feasible reforms will not be able to remove the institutional constraints. The changes that would be required to restore democratic capacities to shape the political economy could only have a chance if present veto positions were to be fundamentally shaken. On the speculative assumption that the aftermath of a deep crisis might indeed create the window of opportunity for a political re-foundation of European integration, the concluding section will outline institutional ground rules that would facilitate democratic political action at both the European and national levels.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, Labor Issues, Democracy, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Damien Krichewsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a global component of business-society relationships has triggered many controversial debates in which CSR is either advocated as a source of virtuous business or disregarded as mere “window dressing.” This paper proposes an alternative perspective on the CSR phenomenon based on N. Luhmann’s social systems theory, which guides a study of CSR in India combining macroscopic observations and the case of the cement manufacturer Lafarge India. The study shows that CSR is not primarily constituted of corporate attempts to “do well by doing good,” as the CSR doxa suggests. However, the phenomenon generates significant transformations of business-society relationships. While increasing financial expectations tend to blunt large companies’ sensitivity toward competing societal expectations, other social systems react with protest movements and political interventions. Companies respond to the perceived threat of these uncertainties by introducing new CSR-related organizational structures, which improve their ability to observe the uncertainties as parameters of economic risks. Companies subsequently mobilize calculated CSR-related practices to shield business opportunities from the possible negative consequences of sociopolitical constraints. The analytical framework outlined in the present paper introduces new angles for studying how the CSR phenomenon proceeds from and transforms the way social systems observe and regulate the role of companies in society.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, Sociology, Business
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Mark Lutter
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This article analyzes how social network structures affect career success in a project based labor market. The literature on team success has shown that teams perform well if they integrate both weak and strong ties simultaneously. Applying the literature to careers in the creative industries, the study suggests that creative artists are more likely to receive critical recognition if they build their careers in both familiar project networks and heterogeneous sets of creative conventions. It is argued that familiarity and diversity operate as complementary elements in the development of innovative ideas. While diversity is important to maximize the flow of new ideas, it needs to be embedded within trustworthy and familiar network structures in order to fully develop its creative potential. The suggested mechanism is tested by means of full career data of 55,097 film directors, covering 478,859 directing jobs in 330,142 film productions during the years 1900–2010. It is shown that familiarity and diversity explain a considerable part of a director’s critical success. Results from interaction effects show that diversity has greater effects on critical success if it is socially embedded within familiar social structures. The article contributes to the emerging understanding of the role of group processes and network structures in explaining individual career success.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Jens Beckert, Jörg Rössel, Patrick Schenck
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Understanding the valuation of goods in markets has become one of the key topics in economic sociology in recent years. Especially in markets for goods that are valued for their aesthetic qualities, the ascription of value appears to be a complex social process because product quality is highly uncertain. The wine market is an extraordinary example because most consumers and even experts are not able to differentiate between wines based on objective sensory characteristics and cannot rank wines in blind tastings according to their price. Our premise is that assessed quality differences cannot be explained by the sensual qualities of the wine. Instead, we explain variations in valuation by social processes in which quality is constructed and contested. To do so we make use of Bourdieu’s field theoretical perspective, which is strongly supported in our empirical analysis of the German wine field. It shows that his model of the structure of fields has considerable power in explaining price differentiation between wineries and that the orientation of consumers towards different segments of the field is based on class hierarchy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Food, Sociology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Kinderman
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Do employers in coordinated market economies (CME’s) actively defend the non-liberal, market-constraining institutions upon which their strategic coordination and competitive success depends? This paper revisits the debate over firms’ employer preferences with an in-depth examination of employers in Germany – a paradigmatic CME and crucial “test case” for Varieties of Capitalism. It is based on interviews with key officials and an in-depth examination of a large-scale campaign – the New Social Market Initiative or INMS – founded and funded by German metalworking employers to shape public opinion. The paper argues that German employers have a strong preference for liberalization: they have pushed hard for the liberalization of labor markets, the reduction of government expenditures, the expansion of market-oriented freedoms, and cuts to social protection, employment protection and benefit entitlements. I find no empirical support for the claim that the INSM is an attempt to appease discontented firms within employers’ associations. On the contrary: for many employers, the Agenda 2010 reforms did not go far enough. Following the discrediting of the Anglo-American model in the financial crisis, far-reaching concessions by employees, and the unexpected revitalization of the German economy, employers have moderated their demands – but liberalization remains their default preference. This paper also addresses the role of ideas and the conditions under which employer campaigns can influence policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Labor Issues, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Capitalism is an economic and social order oriented toward the future. In this paper, I describe the unfolding of the temporal order of capitalism and relate it to the restless dynamism of capitalism we have observed since the Industrial Revolution. Since the future is open, actors are confronted with the uncertainty of the outcomes of their decisions. What can expectations be under conditions of uncertainty? To answer this question, I introduce the notion of fictional expectations which can be used to describe decisions made under conditions of an open and uncertain future. In the paper’s penultimate section, I apply the concept of fictional expectations to the analysis of four crucial processes of capitalism: money and credit, investments, innovation, and consumption. The main thrust of the paper is that in order to understand economic action in capitalism, actors’ perceptions of the future need to take center stage. Not only “history matters,” but also the “future matters.”
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Socialism/Marxism, Social Movement, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus