CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Like all new research fields, the “new economic sociology” was produced by the redeployment of relatively diverse researchers under a single academic label. Academic entrepreneurs in the second half of the 1980s took up the traditional term of the European “founding fathers” claiming they were renewing the discipline while distinguishing themselves from the old homegrown denomination “economy and society,” discredited since the decline of Parsonianism, interdisciplinary movements like Etzioni’s “socioeconomics,” and anti-disciplinary currents such as neo-Marxism, also on the decline in the 1980s. The relative unity of the new economic sociology was due more to this set of demarcations than to a specific intellectual approach. The new economic sociology obtained its scientific legitimacy by bringing together two promising new currents : network analysis and neo-institutionalism in sociology of organizations, along with a more marginal cultural mode of analysis. The intercitation structure for the key authors shows that initially there was hardly any exchange among these currents. Only when a common label emerged and distinct intellectual programs were launched did the references become more ecumenical. Institutional legitimacy was quickly obtained thanks to the support of the Russell Sage Foundation.
The case of the “new economic sociology” demonstrates that contrary to the predominant micro approaches in the sociology of science, the creation of new subdisciplines cannot be properly understood merely through the analysis of direct interactions among persons. The structural conditions under which these interactions are produced must also be taken into account. Among such structural constraints were morphological effects ; i.e., effects of overproduction of sociologists during the 1970s enabling a strong contemporaneous thematic and theoretical differentiation, while the various strategies carried out in the late 1980s to create both “economic sociology” and “socioeconomics” were conditioned by the neo-liberal turn in politics, the emerging imperialism of economists, and the new possibilities offered by the surge in business schools. It is finally argued that the particular position the new economic sociology obtained within the discipline of sociology can only be understood by taking into account its significance within the field of the social sciences at large as well as its relevance within the public sphere.

Distribution électronique pour P.U.F. © P.U.F.. Tous droits réservés pour tous pays. Il est interdit, sauf accord préalable et écrit de l’éditeur, de reproduire (notamment par photocopie) partiellement ou totalement le présent article, de le stocker dans une banque de données ou de le communiquer au public sous quelque forme et de quelque manière que ce soit.
Loading... Please wait