German New Economic Sociology and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

The new much-anticipated discussion paper by John Wilkinson (Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro) provides a thoughtful and comprehensive survey of German new German New Economic Sociology and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societieseconomic sociology with a special focus on the contributions of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne (MPIfG). This Institute undoubtedly fulfills a leading scholarly role in the field of economic sociology and political economy, impacting researchers (including me) throughout the world. Therefore its institutional history, embedded in the broad context of intellectual developments in German new economic sociology, is a very informative and interesting read. Here is the paper’s abstract and its full (open-access) text is below:

“New economic sociology (NES) in Germany has many similarities with economic sociology in the United States in its conscious efforts to institutionalize its presence within the broader sociology community, its promotion of a canon via handbooks, and its focus on the sociology of markets. At the same time, it differs in its stronger connections to the German classics, the greater vitality of a macrosociological tradition in Germany, the prior existence of a “bridging” generation of economic sociologists, and its later consolidation in a period of neo-liberal globalization, all of which have given NES in the German-speaking world a distinctive character. In addition, it has been influenced by successive waves of French economic sociology – Bourdieu, convention, and actor-network theory – and its bilingual academic tradition has ensured its integration into English-speaking NES. In its contribution to the sociology of markets, the fact that NES emerged later in Germany than in the US led to a greater concern with quality markets rather than commodity markets, and a concomitantly greater attention to issues of value and price. These latter themes, in their turn, establish a continuity with German economic sociology’s enduring concern with understanding the role of money. Not surprisingly, therefore, German NES is now making key contributions to discussions on the sociology of money and is increasingly situating its analysis within the broader dynamic of capitalism and current processes of financialization.”

Wilkinson, John. 2019. “An Overview of German New Economic Sociology and the Contribution of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.” MPIfG Discussion Paper 19/3.

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