Economic Sociology

by rw

This article will provide a definition of "sociology," then discuss the applications of sociological theory to poverty, and finally that will discuss methods employed in sociological studies on poverty.


In order that you might gain a better understanding of the field, this article will begin with a brief overview of some definitions used in economic sociology. The rest will be an explanation on what approaches to the study of poverty does economic sociology offer? More specifically, what might sociologists studying poverty focus on besides poor households, neighborhoods, and individuals? In order for you to better understand these concepts, it is important that you read this article from start to finish.


Economic sociology is a branch of sociology that uses economic theory in order to answer sociological questions. The subject matter ranges from an analysis of the social impacts of government legislation and policies to an analysis of the notion that buying behavior is a form of status competition. Economic sociology emerged as a distinct field at the end of the 19th century when Alfred Marshall, a British economist, discovered similarities between social interactions in markets and interactions in other social spheres. In his 1891 article, "The Economics of Effort," he argued that the working classes were motivated by their present needs similar to non-work interactions [1]. It attempts to explain human action using reason instead using emotions .Economic sociology is rooted in the behavioral and micro-economic theory of rational actors, which assumes that humans make rational decisions in order to maximize their utility [2]. This differs from Marxism which argues that material interests determine the structure of social relations [3].


Economic Sociology covers a broad range of topics, most importantly the role and structure of markets and systems of production. There is also a big focus on consumption and social inequality. All of these topics are important in telling the story about poverty. A good example would be with consumption. Economics has long been criticized for its inability to explain consumption. This is because it assumes that consumption is a rational economic decision, which means that individuals have the goal of maximizing their utility. Therefore, consumption should be explained based on the same principles as the rest of economics. However, consumption doesn't make sense in terms of utility maximization—for instance, people who are poor will spend more money on commodities that they can't afford simply because they are unhappy with their current situation. Some ways of explaining consumption would be through social exchange theories or psychological explanations, but these are much less rigorous than economics and therefore less accurate explanations.



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