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In their introduction, the editors discuss points of convergence and disagreement with institutionally oriented research in economics and political science, and locate the "institutional" approach in relation to major developments in contemporary sociological theory. Several chapters consolidate the theoretical advances of the past decade, identify and clarify the paradigm's key ambiguities, and push the theoretical agenda in novel ways by developing sophisticated arguments about the linkage between institutional patterns and forms of social structure. The empirical studies that follow—involving such diverse topics as mental health clinics, art museums, large corporations, civil-service systems, and national polities—illustrate the explanatory power of institutional theory in the analysis of organizational change.
Required reading for anyone interested in the sociology of organizations, the volume should appeal to scholars concerned with culture, political institutions, and social change.
Richard Swedberg describes the field's critical insights into economic life, giving particular attention to the effects of culture on economic phenomena and the ways that economic actions are embedded in social structures. He examines the full range of economic institutions and explicates the relationship of the economy to politics, law, culture, and gender. Swedberg notes that sociologists too often fail to properly emphasize the role that self-interested behavior plays in economic decisions, while economists frequently underestimate the importance of social relations. Thus, he argues that the next major task for economic sociology is to develop a theoretical and empirical understanding of how interests and social relations work in combination to affect economic action. Written by an author whose name is synonymous with economic sociology, this text constitutes a sorely needed advanced synthesis--and a blueprint for the future of this burgeoning field.