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How are markets made?


  • Aspers, Patrik


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the making of markets. The paper identifies two ideal-typical processes in which markets are made - organized making and spontaneous making - which are often combined in reality. Organized making is defined as a process in which at least two actors come together and decide on the order of the market. There are two ways of organized making of markets, called 'state-governed market making' and 'self-governed market making.' Spontaneous making is defined as a process in which the market is an unintended result of actors' activities. The attention sociologists have paid to the issue of market making has been directed largely at organized market making. This paper develops a sociological approach that integrates both spontaneous and organized market making, and identifies three phases of market making. This involves a discussion of empirical cases, and seven hypotheses are presented that make predictions for the two types of market making. The paper provides theoretical tools for studying the making of markets in history, as well as in our own time. Finally, a number of conditions are presented that must be in place if there is to be a market.

Suggested Citation

  • Aspers, Patrik, 2009. "How are markets made?," MPIfG Working Paper 09/2, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:092

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Donald Mackenzie & Fabian Muniesa & Lucia Siu, 2007. "Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics," Post-Print halshs-00149145, HAL.
    2. Michel Callon & Yuval Millo & Fabian Muniesa, 2007. "Market Devices," Post-Print halshs-00177891, HAL.
    3. Mollgaard, H Peter, 1997. "A Squeezer Round the Corner? Self-Regulation and Forward Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 104-112, January.
    4. Oliver Volckart & Antje Mangels, 1999. "Are the Roots of the Modern Lex Mercatoria Really Medieval?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 427-450, January.
    5. Michel Callon & Fabian Muniesa, 2005. "Economic markets as calculative collective devices," Post-Print halshs-00087477, HAL.
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