Networks and Markets

Front Cover
James E. Rauch, Alexandra Casella
Russell Sage Foundation, Jun 21, 2001 - Business & Economics - 346 pages
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Networks and Markets argues that economists' knowledge of markets and sociologists' rich understanding of networks can and should be combined. Together they can help us achieve a more coherent view of economic life, where transactions follow both the logic of economic incentives and the established channels of personal relationships. Market exchange is impersonal, episodic, and carried out at arm's length. All that matters is how much the seller is asking, and how much the buyer is offering. An economic network, by contrast, is based upon more personalized and enduring relationships between people tied together by more than just price. Networks and Markets focuses on how the two concepts relate to each other: Are social networks an essential precondition for successful markets, or do networks arise naturally out of markets, as faceless traders build reputations and gain confidence in each other? This book proves that both economics and sociology provide stronger insights when they study markets and networks as parallel forms of exchange. But it also clarifies the healthy division of labor that remains between the two disciplines. Sociologists are adept at showing how markets are framed by social institutions; economists specialize in explaining how markets perform, taking the social context as a given. Networks and Markets showcases what each discipline does best and reveals where each discipline would do better by borrowing from the other.

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About the author (2001)

JAMES E. RAUCH is professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego.

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