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Trust, Morality, and Markets

Rethinking Economy and Society via the Russian Case

Yuri Veselov, Mikhail Sinyutin and Elena Kapustkina

The spread of contemporary globalized capitalism wrought by the new patterns of industrialization, marketization, and consumerization shapes Russia’s recent historical path and developmental possibilities. This book discusses Russia’s transformation into a market economy and the role of trust in the creation of new institutions and ways of life. It focuses on the relations between society and economy in a period of turbulent social change and the extraordinary transformation of social practices.
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In addition to what economists have contributed significantly to the theme the morality and markets problem has recently come to the attention of fore of sociology. The general reason is that people everywhere, whether capitalism has triumphed or failed in their countries, are dissatisfied with strict social efficiency and outcomes from market economies. Our strong suspicion is that a lot still has to be done to make a market-based system work within a moral framework. It needs to become more efficient from the social viewpoint to ensure sustainable development, social welfare, equal and fair distribution of wealth, health care and environmental protection. This was a stereotype of “classical scientific thinking” that we now see belongs to knowledge from past centuries. Wallerstein (1999, 1) expressed this challenging tendency, stating that “the only perspective we have that is plausible and rewarding is to create a new open culture, this time not of sociology but of social science, and (most importantly) one that is located within an epistemologically reunified world of knowledge”. The concrete aim of social sciences in our case consists in elaborating the theoretical concept of morality and economics to explain how markets really work in social environments.

Our research agenda in the study of morals and markets has been focused on one of the key elements of morality, namely trust, which is an intriguing field of research, but also a neglected problem in economic sociology. Our theoretical aims were: a) to reveal that trust is a...

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