Sociology of the Invisible Hand
This book gathers contributions of remarkable authors who are linked directly either with the invisible hand metaphor, with the spontaneous order phenomenon or with the unintended consequences issue and aims to describe the traditional and contemporary applicability of the sociological framing of the invisible hand for social sciences.
Table Of Contents
- Title Page
- Copyright Page
- About the editors
- About the book
- Citability of the eBook
- Three in One: Invisible Hand-Type Theories in Sociology
- Part 1: Related, but Different from the Invisible Hand
- The Invisible Hand and Political Philosophy
- “Contrary Effects” and the Reverse Invisible Hand in Hume and Smith
- Money versus System Integration Concepts
- The Explanatory Power(s) of Unintended Consequences
- The “Invisible Hand”: A Fiction with Real Consequences
- The Interdependence of Spontaneous Order and Institutional Design: Table Manners, Daylight Saving Time, Language and the Erosion of Institutional Design under Communist Rule
- Part 2: Even Better Than the Invisible Hand
- The Principle of the Hiding Hand Revisited
- Invisible or Visible Hands? The Image of Markets in Contemporary Macroeconomics
- Payment for Ecosystem Services as a Potential Remedy for Market Failures
- Part 3: The Invisible Hand, but Not of the Market
- Program Implementation and the Invisible Hand of Community: The Experience of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Northern Mexico
- Serendipity in the Online Job Market
- The Invisible Hand of Social Capital: Evidence from the Polish Labor Market
- Crafting the Neoliberal State Workfare, Prisonfare, and Social Insecurity
- Invisible Hand in Sociology: Where Does It Take Us?
- About the Contributors
Sociology of the Invisible Hand
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in
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data is available in the internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A CIP catalog record for this book has been applied for at the Library of Congress.
The publishing of this volume was undertaken as part of the project Paradoks niezamierzonych konsekwencji: Od niewidzialnej ręki do efektów odwrócenia w naukach społecznych [The Paradox of Unintended Consequences: From the Invisible Hand to Perverse Effects in Social Sciences], financed by the National Science Centre, Poland, on the basis of the decision number DEC-2013/09/D/HS6/00242.
Printed by CPI books GmbH, Leck
ISBN 978-3-631-67232-7 (Print)
E-ISBN 978-3-653-06772-9 (E-PDF)
E-ISBN 978-3-631-71043-2 (EPUB)
E-ISBN 978-3-631-71044-9 (MOBI)
© Peter Lang GmbH
Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften
All rights reserved.
Peter Lang – Berlin ∙ Bern ∙ Bruxelles ∙ New York ∙
Oxford ∙ Warszawa ∙ Wien
All parts of this publication are protected by copyright. Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution. This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems.
This publication has been peer reviewed.
Adriana Mica is Assistant Professor and Head of the Research Unit on Action and Consequences at the University of Warsaw. Her interests concern unintended consequences of social action, failure, diffusion of innovations and ignorance.
Katarzyna M. Wyrzykowska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Secretary of the Sociology of Arts Section of the Polish Sociological Association. Her research focuses on the sociology of music, music market research, and the methodology of qualitative research.
Rafał Wiśniewski is Associate Professor at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. He specializes in the sociology of culture, intercultural communication and environmental sociology. He is the Director of the National Centre for Culture in Poland.
Iwona Zielińska is Assistant Professor at the Maria Grzegorzewska University. She is interested in science controversies and the public engagement with science and technology.
Sociology of the Invisible Hand
This book illustrates the applicability of the seminal and controversial metaphor of the “invisible hand” in modern sociological theory. It shows that sociologists have long been part of a field mainly associated with economists and political philosophers. Though unlike the framing that builds directly on Adam Smith, sociological theory focuses on undesirable and perverse outcomes. Furthermore, the sociological angle favors the explanation of invisible hand-like mechanisms as contingent upon social structures and broader processes. Thus, it goes beyond its classical formulation in terms of interdependence, interaction and aggregation of individual actions.
This book gathers contributions of remarkable authors who are linked directly with the invisible hand metaphor, with the spontaneous order phenomenon or with the unintended consequences issue. It aims to reveal the traditional and contemporary applicability of the sociological framing of the invisible hand for social sciences.
Citability of the eBook
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
About the Contributors←6 | 7→
Edited by Andrzej Rychard
Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences
Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences
Faculty of «Artes Liberales» of the University of Warsaw
← | 5→Acknowledgments
The idea to embark on this collective work came at the intersection of two intellectual endeavors. On the one hand, there was the individual research project run by one member of our team, Adriana Mica. This project, realized under the auspices of the Polish National Science Centre, was determined to draw the theoretical trajectory of the idea of unintended consequences. On the other hand, there was the network-like development of the study of unintended consequences that the four of us, together with other colleagues, started to develop a few years back by way of organizing annual workshops and publications on the topic. This unintended network, supported institutionally by the Polish Sociological Association, the University of Warsaw and affiliated centers, debuted with the intention to formalize the interest and observations regarding the unintended that occur time and again in scientific research, but which are quite implicit to sociology actually.
The first endeavor – the research project – evolved in the direction of a general discussion of the main analytical frames for the study of unintended consequences in sociology, which also includes the invisible hand type of theory. The second endeavor – the unintended consequences network – managed to proliferate by bringing an acute and highly critical input, but also integrative and informal spirit during the debates that we usually organize in May in Warsaw. But what is even more telling, this evidenced a certain level of maturity by publishing the edited collection Sociology and the Unintended: Robert Merton Revisited (Adriana Mica, Arkadiusz Pesiert and Jan Winczorek. 2011. Peter Lang). This book, which aimed to redraw the reach of the topic of unintended consequences in sociology, was instantly absorbed in the academia. We took this gratifying element as a sign that it is worth it, and that this is in a sense our opportunity to move forward in our endeavor to articulate sociology of unintended consequences. So we seized this opportunity to systematize the analytical framework that is usually associated with economics but which, at a closer look, emerges to be quite representative of sociology as well. In other words, we embarked on documenting the manifestations, applications and influences of the invisible hand in sociology.
This edited volume is a theoretical concretization of the interest in the unintended that we replenish continuously. But this systematization would not have been realized if it was not for the enthusiastic feedback received from the authors, who are known to be interested in this topic and willing to formalize ←7 | 8→and institutionalize the study of unintended consequences by contributing to this volume. It is hard to say to what extent the academic cordiality and effective collaboration that the contributors to this volume displayed had anything to do with the fact that the volume set to discuss the topic of the invisible hand. As it is known, the invisible hand is a theme with a great appeal, practically inexhaustible, that it is difficult to say no to. On the other hand, it is also quite challenging. And the amount of pages that were written on the topic render that coming up with something really new is not such an easy task to accomplish. So we owe a big debt of gratitude to the contributors to this volume who took the challenge, to their unmeasurable patience and to their laborious and constant work, not only in these last few months, but also over the years.
These are all scholars known to have dealt, in one way or another, with the metaphor of invisible hand or with the sociological modern take on it, at least once in their academic career. Helmut K. Anheier, Bruna Ingrao, Craig Smith, Emma Tieffenbach and Frederick G. Whelan are longtime analysts and systematizers of the use of the metaphor and its derivatives in economics, science and public policy. Karl-Dieter Opp and Loïc Wacquant are established observers of the phenomena of emergence of norms and of regulation of poverty wherein the metaphor of invisible hand – or visible hands for that matter – plays a key role in the explanatory part. Both Sebastian Giacovelli and Zbigniew Szkop and his colleagues – Rafał Wiśniewski and Marta Sylla – occur as new, but determined learners of the rules of the game of this debate, who also bring in fresh blood in the form of new research sites and theoretical angles. While the three teams composed by Francisco Fernandez de Castro and Raul P. Lejano, Steve McDonald, Scott T. Grether, Kim S. Holland and Hannah McQueen, and by Mikołaj Pawlak and Michał Kotnarowski have proved to be directors of sequels of the modern sociological take on invisible hand-like processes in relation to social capital.
Thus, the positive feedback to the invitation of collaboration was pretty much everything that we, as editors of this volume, could have hoped for in order to cover the subject of the sociology of the invisible hand. This allowed us to illustrate the main analytical streams of study in sociology of the invisible hand (see Three in One: Invisible Hand-Type Theories in Sociology [Mica, Wyrzykowska, Zielińska and Wiśniewski in this volume]), as well as to look for shortcomings in the manner in which we tried to articulate the sociology of the invisible hand in our start-up discussion (see Invisible Hand in Sociology: Where Does It Take Us? [Mica, Wyrzykowska, Wiśniewski and Zielińska in this volume]). The project turned out to be not only an effective collaboration but also a demanding intellectual challenge, that we would kindly thank again to the contributors to this volume.←8 | 9→
It needs to be acknowledged here that on several occasions we reached for theoretical advice and critical overview to the contributors of the volume, and thus extended their engagement with the book through reviewing and commenting of the accompanying texts of Three in One and Sociology of the Invisible Hand: Where Does It Take Us? In this respect, we are especially grateful to Steve McDonald, Mikołaj Pawlak and Emma Tieffenbach. We are highly indebted to Karl-Dieter Opp and Jocelyn Pixley for embarking the second time around in an edited book project on the unintended consequences with one of the editors of the volume (Adriana Mica). Further, we would also like to express our gratitude to Loïc Wacquant and Frederick G. Whelan for having agreed on the republication of two already existing, but highly relevant, pieces in this volume, as well as for the readiness of Routledge publishing house to put the chapter by Frederick G. Whelan at the disposal of the invisible hand public.
The conceptual realm of the book also benefitted from the research carried out at the British Library in London, UC Berkeley Library, University Library in Warsaw and the National Library of Poland. The invisible hand metaphor goes such a long way back, that an installment to its conceptualization would hardly be conceivable without dedicating dozens of hours spent in the library trying to figure out how does the invisible hand actually work. Without this dedication, the materialization of this edited book would not have been possible.
In social sciences, the invisible hand mechanism is usually invoked in relation to social institutions that can be shown to be the unintended consequence of juxtaposition of social actions and interactions. Essentially, these actions were not oriented towards producing these institutions to begin with. But due to an intriguing mechanism of aggregation, composition or emergence, the institutions in questions emerged anyway. The invisible hand mechanism is usually associated with the manner in which the economists explain unintended consequences (see Ingrao and Israel 1990; Ingrao 1998; Aydinonat 2008; Tieffenbach 2013; 2016). This is attributed in particular to the authors of Scottish Enlightenment (especially to Adam Smith) (see Smith 2006; 2009), or even earlier to Bernard Mandeville’s ideas on public benefits from private vices (see Merton 1936; Elster 1978, 106–108; Ullmann-Margalit 1978; Schneider 1984; 1987; Hirschman 1991, 38–40; Cherkaoui 2005; Campbell 2011, 50–51; Mica 2015).
This strong link with economics notwithstanding, invisible hand accounts have also surfaced in sociology. Generally, the take of sociologists recalls the one of economists. Just that unlike the framing that builds directly on Adam Smith, the sociological theory has its particularity that it focuses on undesirable and perverse outcomes, and that it underlines that the unintended is an outcome of interdependence and/or interaction (see Boudon 1981; 1982 , 255–284). Furthermore, the sociological angle also favors the explanation of invisible hand-like mechanisms as contingent upon social structures and broader processes, and not just as an outcome of aggregation of individual actions.
Despite this visible interest, sociology did not raise the invisible hand to the rank of one of the most important mechanisms. At least not to the extent that economics did. Wherein, as indicated by the subtitle of Aydinonat’s (2008) book, the invisible hand became to depict “How Economists Explain Unintended Consequences”.←11 | 12→
Certainly, there is a complex of factors that contributed to this rather loose association of the invisible hand with sociology. For one, the high visibility and cumulative knowledge about the model and its subsequent reformulations in economics might have created the perception that the sociological installment, even if it exists, is rather secondary to the mainstream discussion that takes place among economists and political philosophers. But it is also the specificity of the study of invisible hand in sociology, and sociology of unintended consequences in particular, that seems to have contributed to the decreased visibility of the sociological take on the invisible hand processes. In this respect, two characteristics of sociology of the invisible hand stand out.
First, sociology of the invisible hand is more clearly delineated on paper than in practice. The study of unintended consequences that result from a complex of individual activities is usually acknowledged as a distinct type of research of unintended consequences related to Smith’s invisible hand and Hayek’s spontaneous order, as well as to Mandeville’s and Popper’s articulation of the unintended (see Barry 1982; 1985; Boudon 1990, 119; Zingerle 1998, 180; Mica 2015). Together with the research of unanticipated effects of a singular action that is commonly traced to Merton, this stream is regarded as one of the main modalities of studying the unintended consequences in sociology (see Merton 1936, 896; Giddens 1986 , 13–14; Hirschman 1991; Zingerle 1998, 179; de Zwart 1998, 283–284).1
The possibility to demarcate these analytical frames notwithstanding sociology of unintended consequences is a rather fuzzy enterprise. Baert (1991, 203), for instance, indicated the conflation of the diachronic with the synchronic. Hirschman (1991, 35–42) spoke about the conflation of the unintended consequences with the perverse effects, while de Zwart (2015, 283–284) talked about “a habit that stems from mixing up two theoretical traditions: that of ‘unintended consequences’ from the spontaneous order literature and that of ‘unanticipated consequences’ following Merton (1936)”. He also argued that the confusion of the analytical traditions is one of the factors contributing to the conflation of the “unintended” with the unanticipated consequences. In ←12 | 13→addition, we claim, this mixing up has also weakened the perception of sociology of invisible hand mechanisms as a concrete line of study. Should the sociology of the invisible hand have been more clearly defined inside the study of unintended consequences, its chances of being noticed outside would have certainly been bigger (for an analogous phenomenon regarding economic sociology of the unintended, see Mica 2017).
Second, sociology of the invisible hand rarely presents itself in terms of sociology of the invisible hand explicitly, but it tends to go under various different names. The following tendency can be observed: when the research of invisible hand-like mechanisms is done very closely, this usually goes under the name of study of mechanisms of aggregation, mechanisms of generation, combination, composition, interdependence, etc. Boudon and Bourricaud (2003 , 124–126) attributed this state of affairs to a certain reservation towards dialectics in sociology. The former author, for instance, talked initially about effects of composition and perverse effects (Boudon 1982 ), ulteriorly about emergent effects (Boudon 1981; see discussion in Lins Hamlin 2002, 48–49) and at a later phase about unintended consequences (Boudon 1990). While Elster (1978) used the concept of counterfinality. Even Cherkaoui (2005), who coined the term of invisible codes, preferred in the actual analysis to talk about emergent effects.
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- Publication date
- 2018 (July)
- Unintended consequences Spontaneous order Markets Social capital Failure
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 429 pp., 12 fig. b/w, 13 tables