Department of Sociology

Robert Sitko



SOC 308 • Sociology Of Economic Life

46094 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM ECJ 1.204


Economic inquiry occupied center stage for the founding giants of sociology – Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. During most of the twentieth century, however, economics evolved as a discipline separate from sociology. Beginning in the 1980s, sociologists resumed their interest in economic phenomena, often adopting perspectives critical of mainstream economics.

Traditional economics divides economic behavior from social behavior and assumes that individuals generally behave rationally, act to maximize their self-interests, and that economic arrangements are generally efficient. Economic sociology insists that the desire for status, approval, and power are inseparable from economic action, and emphasizes the importance of the social relations that exist among business organizations, institutions, and the larger society. Sociologists further emphasize how the very possibility of economic action depends on shared norms and meanings, on political arrangements, and on the stability provided by governments.

Topics will include classical sociological perspectives on the economy, the rise of the modern corporation, relations among businesses and between business and society, social meanings of money, gender perspectives on work and the economy, markets and market failures such as the financial crisis of 2008, consumption, and labor markets. Students will hopefully leave the course as more sophisticated consumers of the economic data that bombards them daily and more skeptical of simplistic, market-based explanations of economic life.

Required Texts

Granovetter, Mark and Richard Swedberg (eds.), The Sociology of Economic Life (3rd edition).

Grading Policy

75% 3 exams @ 25% each

25%  3 short papers (2 pp. max) that either summarize a particular reading or related group of readings, or apply some concept of economic sociology to real world economic phenomenon.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
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    CLA 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086