The Market addresses one of the most controversial answers to the question, 'how is social order possible?' Ever since Adam Smith conceived the idea of an 'invisible hand', advocates of the market have argued that social cohesion, material prosperity and political vitality are best achieved not by central control and planning but by laissez-faire - the policy of non-intervention.
In this book, Alan Aldridge guides readers through the complex interplay between analysis, description and ideology that characterizes social theorizing on the market. A distinctive feature of The Market is its emphasis on the role of culture in shaping the social reality of markets as perceived and experienced by people participating in them.
Ideologies examined include:
Market fundamentalism - the conviction that free markets are universally beneficial
Market populism - the assertion that the free market reflects the democratic will of the people
Economic 'man' - the notion that the main motive of our actions is to maximize our personal advantage
Globalism - the claim by neo-liberals that the global expansion of markets is irresistible, making political action irrelevant
The Market will be essential reading for students and researchers interested in the sociology of economic life, economic sociology and political economy.
Alan Aldridge is Reader in the Sociology of Culture at the University of Nottingham.
Acknowledgements. Introduction.. 1. The rise of the market. Elements of market society. The invisible hand: social co-ordination without a co-ordinator. Freedom, liberalism and the market. Christian, civic republican and Marxian responses. The market as utopia and dystopia. The expansion of the market.. 2. Capitalism and the free market: success and failure. Market populism. The efficient market. Market fundamentalism. Public choice theory. Rational choice and instrumental rationality. Market failure. Denying market failure: in defence of monopoly. Market-based solutions: protecting the environment. Is and ought: the market as ideology.. 3. The social reality of markets. The problem of social order. A question of trust. Embeddedness, trust - and fraud. Abandoned markets, abandoned consumers. Human beings as rational actors. Freedom and autonomy. Money and monies. Primitive and modern economies. The 'problem' of culture.. 4. Colonization, compromise and resistance. Beck's critique of globalism. The globalization of nothing? Market socialism. The Third Way. In defence of practices Promotional culture: the case of universities. The market experience. References. Index.