Historical Social Research

Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg & Frédéric Lebaron: There Is No Such Thing as “the Economy”. Economic Phenomena Analysed from a Field-Theoretical Perspective. [Abstract]

This introductory essay to the HSR Special Issue “Economists, Politics, and Society” argues for a strong field-theoretical programme inspired by Pierre Bourdieu to research economic life as an integral part of different social forms. Its main aim is threefold. First, we spell out the very distinct Durkheimian legacy in Bourdieu’s thinking and the way he applies it in researching economic phenomena. Without this background, much of what is actually part of how Bourdieu analysed economic aspects of social life would be overlooked or reduced to mere economic sociology. Second, we sketch the main theoretical concepts and heuristics used to analyse economic life from a field perspective. Third, we focus on practical methodological issues of field-analytical research into economic phenomena. We conclude with a short summary of the basic characteristics of this approach and discuss the main insights provided by the contributions to this special issue.

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