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What is a Market? On the Methodology of a Contested Concept


  • Eckehard Rosenbaum


Some economists find markets everywhere and assume that they emerge spontaneously once a set of necessary conditions such as well-defined property rights is fulfilled. Others emphasise the role of organisations and contend that markets are actually less dominant. But despite claims to the contrary, the market concept is hardly analyzed in depth. Nor are there serious attempts to examine empirically where markets exist. Against this background, the paper addresses the question of what is a market? It begins by illustrating how the literature has hitherto defined the concept of a market. On the basis of methodological considerations, which center on the subject matter of economic analysis, the paper provides a revised conceptualisation of markets in terms of those conditions under which stylised facts about relative prices can be observed. The final part of the paper discusses the link between the conceptualisation of a market and the informational role of relative prices highlighted by the Austrian School.

Suggested Citation

  • Eckehard Rosenbaum, 2000. "What is a Market? On the Methodology of a Contested Concept," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 58(4), pages 455-482.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:58:y:2000:i:4:p:455-482
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760050204300

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Maskell & Mark Lorenzen, 2003. "The Cluster as Market Organization," DRUID Working Papers 03-14, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    2. Vikas Kumar, 2016. "Economics, an Uncertain Glory," Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 321-332, December.
    3. Vaissière, Anne-Charlotte & Levrel, Harold, 2015. "Biodiversity offset markets: What are they really? An empirical approach to wetland mitigation banking," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 81-88.
    4. Stefan Bernhard, 2016. "At the Crossroads: The Embedding Work of Market Participants in and Around Markets," Sociological Research Online, Sociological Research Online, vol. 21(2), pages 1-7.
    5. John Marangos, 2011. "Social Change versus Transition: The Political Economy of Institutions and Transitional Economies," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 40(1), pages 119-137, April.
    6. Thomas Burr, 2014. "Making Distribution Markets: Market-Wide Institutions in French and American Bicycle Distribution, 1865–1914," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 178-209, January.
    7. Dolfsma, W.A. & Finch, J. & McMaster, R., 2004. "Market and Society: How do they relate, and contribute to welfare?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2004-105-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    8. Kapás, Judit, 2003. "A piac mint intézmény - szélesebb perspektívában
      [The market as an institution - in a broader perspective]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1076-1094.
    9. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2013. "Government Failure," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15372.
    10. repec:eee:ecoser:v:18:y:2016:i:c:p:20-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Mathieu Moslonka-Lefebvre & Herv'e Monod & Christopher A. Gilligan & Elisabeta Vergu & Jo~ao A. N. Filipe, 2013. "Epidemics in markets with trade friction and imperfect transactions," Papers 1310.6320,
    12. Alain Karsenty & Driss Ezzine-De-Blas, 2016. "PES, markets and property rights: a comment on Wunder's revisited concept of PES and a proposal of conceptual framework," Working Papers hal-01262380, HAL.

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    Market; Institution; Methodology; Austrian Approach;


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