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date: 17 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the role of culture in economic life. Research about economic meaning-making challenges economists’ universalistic assumptions about the microinteractional and motivational meaning of economic action. It also improves on vague sociological stereotypes of “market society,” especially by emphasizing meaningful market action in firms and industries. However, the proliferation of so many different conceptual languages and lines of inquiry that now address “economic culture” threatens to undermine the promise of cultural explanation of economic life. This article first discusses the various “cultural production” accounts of meaning in economic action before outlining three different dimensions of meaning-making in economic sociology. It then considers some proposals and models for putting economic discourse at the center of analysis, arguing that proliferation and eclecticism reflect the need for a more comprehensive and explicit engagement with cultural theory.

Keywords: economic life, Culture, economic meaning-making, economic action, market action, economic culture, cultural production, economic sociology, economic discourse, cultural theory

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