November, 2009

The Social Construction of the Market

Key materials
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In their famous book The Social Construction of Reality, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1966) explain the processes by which human knowledge about the social world is created, transmitted, preserved, and comes to be taken for granted by "the man on the street" as he negotiates the social world. They view individuals as both the producers and the products of society, and to be members of society means to be a part of this ongoing dialectical process.

Although Berger and Luckmann do not specifically discuss the market, they would undoubtedly agree that the market is socially constructed. Indeed, the market is both (i) a phenomenon that is brought about by the social actions of individuals and (ii) a phenomenon that individuals come to know through their socialization into a particular community and their personal experiences with buying and selling goods and services.  Inspired by Berger and Luckmann's work, this paper will describe the social construction of the market, specifically focusing on the Austrian understanding of the market as a product of human action, acknowledging that knowledge is socially distributed, and focusing on the subjectively held though socially mediated meanings that actors ascribe to market activity, a "sociology of the market"  that is consistent with Berger and Luckmann's approach.

Citation (Chicago Style)

Storr, Virgil. "The Social Construction of the Market." Working Paper, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, 2009.