Embeddedness and the intellectual projects of economic sociology

In this review, we explore how the concept of embeddedness has shaped - and been shaped by - the evolution of the subfield of economic sociology. Although embeddedness is often taken as a conceptual umbrella for a single, if eclectic, approach to the sociological study of the economy, we argue that in fact the concept references two distinct intellectual projects. One project, following from Granovetter's (1985) well-known programmatic statement, attempts to discern the relational bases of social action in economic contexts. Another project, drawing from Polanyi's [1944 (2001), 1957, 1977] social theory, concerns the integration of the economy into broader social systems. Critically, these two formulations of embeddedness involve different views of the relationship between the economic and the social. The implication is that the obstacles to theoretical integration in economic sociology, while not insurmountable, are greater than is typically acknowledged.
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