317 Global Society - Department of Sociology

Department of Sociology
The University of Hong Kong
SOCI0044 Sociology of Economic Life
Second Semester 2010-11
Course Outline
Lecturer: Dr. Cheris Shun-ching Chan (cherisch@hku.hk)
Time: Wednesday 3:00-5:00PM
Aims and objectives
Welcome to the class! The Sociology of Economic Life, which is also called Economic
Sociology, is concerned with the social construction of economic action and institutions.
Its basic tenet is that economic action is part of social action, and economic institutions
are socially constructed with cultural and historical specificities. It challenges the basic
assumptions that economic action is universally rational on which neo-classical
economics is based. This course begins with an introduction of the key concepts of
economic sociology. It adopts a “new economic sociology” perspective to understand a
wide range of economic life. The various topics are grouped under three major themes: 1)
what is sociology of new economic life; 2) key ideas of new economic sociology; and 3)
selected topics.
The course will be run as a mix of lectures and classroom discussions. Students are
expected to participate actively in class by raising questions, contributing ideas, engaging
in small group discussions and debates, etc.
Main topics (subject to change)
What is Sociology of Economic Life
Old and New Economic Sociology
Key Ideas of New Economic Sociology
Social Embeddedness
Cultural Capital
State and Economy
Social Construction of Markets
Selected Topics
Money and Consumption
Investment, Firm, and Corporation
Labor Management: From Fordism to Post-Fordism
Management and Organizational Culture
Comparative Productions and Markets
Economic Globalization and Cultural Convergence or Divergence
Key readings
- The readings include journal articles and book chapters, which can be downloaded from
WebCT. Some examples are as follows:
Bourdieu, Pierre. 2001 (1983). “The Forms of Capital.” Pp.96-111 in in The Sociology of
Economic Life, 2nd Edition, edited by Mark Granovetter and Richard Swedberg. CO:
Westview Press.
Chan, Cheris Shun-ching. 2009a. “Creating a Market in the Presence of Cultural
Resistance: The Case of Life Insurance in China.” Theory and Society 38
DiMaggio, Paul. 2002. “Endogenizing ‘Animal Spirits’: Toward a Sociology of
Collective Response to Uncertainty and Risk.” Pp.79-100 in The New Economic
Sociology, edited by Mauro Guillen, Randall Collins, Paula England, and Marshall
Meyer. NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Granovetter, Mark. 1985. “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of
Embeddedness.” American Journal of Sociology 91:481-510.
Kunda, Gideon. 2006 (1992). Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a HighTech Corporation. PA: Temple University Press. Pp.1-25
Veblen, Thorstein. 1996 (1899). The Theory of the Leisure Class. NY: A Mentor Book,
New American Library. Chs.3-4
Watson, James. 2006 (1997). “Introduction: Transnationalism, Localization, and Fast
Foods in East Asia.” Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, edited by James
Watson. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Zelizer, Viviana. 1989. "The Social Meaning of Money," American Journal of Sociology,
Part I: Coursework (40%)
Part II: Final Examination (60%)