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The Economics of Social Interactions: An Interdisciplinary Ground for Social Scientists?

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  • Andreia Tolciu

Abstract

Social interaction models, i.e. the changing sequence of actions between individuals who modify their behavior under the influence of their peers, have rarely enjoyed as high a profile in economic analysis as they do today. However, the literature growth has not been accompanied by a process of academic consolidation. The difficulties encountered in research are largely but not entirely the result of data constraints. The main argument of this article is that the source of problems may be traceable to the lack of a complementary approach between economics and other disciplines. The difficulties presented by the deficit in academic exchange among social scientists are compounded by the current analytical framework, which still concentrates on the fundamental, but mutually exclusive, traditions of thought: homo oeconomicus and homo sociologicus. In spotlighting these ideas, this article reviews the economic body of literature on social interactions and their effect on individual unemployment status. Two directions in current research are analyzed: the impact of social (work) norms on unemployment and the role of social networks in the job search process. The theoretical and methodological challenges encountered in research suggest that the future of social interactions models might be found at the crossroads of economics and other social sciences.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreia Tolciu, 2010. "The Economics of Social Interactions: An Interdisciplinary Ground for Social Scientists?," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(3), pages 223-242, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:39:y:2010:i:3:p:223-242
    DOI: 10.1007/s12143-009-9058-5
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