Economy and Society

Economy and Society
by Robert J. Holton

0-415-02909-0; 0-415-02910-4 (paper)
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Holton tackles a subject of fundamental and varied dimensions and scores well. The author's objective is to successfully blend the disciplines of economics and sociology in their historical and political contexts to provide broader and solid foundations for a new discipline of economic sociology. To initiate readers to traverse the new path of economic sociology, the author provides enough antecedents. The accepted scarcity of means in relation to the wants definition of economics serves as a starting point, and from here the study branches off in the directions of the critical evaluation of economic liberalism, the theory of public choice, Marxian political economy, sociology, and the economic anthropology of Karl Polanyi. Holton's presentation and appraisal of Polanyi are sharp and succinct. He forcefully states Polanyi's thesis of economic embeddedness and differentiation in premarket and market periods respectively. Limitations of the free market system are overemphasized to the extent that the dynamic aspects are overlooked. And, at times the material presented is fragmentary. But on the whole this is an admirable effort, particularly in the final two chapters where the author weaves together all the threads in a unified way. The book should be a welcome addition to the budding discipline of economic sociology. It can be gainfully used by undergraduate and graduate students and, as a stepping-stone, by researchers and faculty.

--Reviewed by C. J. Talele in Choice, 30 (July/August 1993), p. 1815.