September, 2008

The Market as a Social Space

On the Meaningful Extraeconomic Conversations that Can Occur in Markets
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Prominent economic sociologist Richard Swedberg has argued that economists have failed to develop a theory of the market that recognizes it as a “social phenomenon in its own right.” While this may be true of mainstream economics, the Austrian school’s theory of the market is much richer than the standard view. For Austrians, the market has always been a central concern. And Austrians have always argued that the market is a social structure where both exchange and competition occurs. Still, Austrians give little more than scant attention to the noneconomic sociality that occurs in markets. The market, however, is both a conversation and an arena where meaningful conversations can occur. This paper is an effort to focus attention on the market as a social space where social activity (beyond competition and exchange) takes place and where noneconomic relationships and economic relationships develop.