Jevonss economic sociology (a proposal that
also implies no rational choice theory).
The main part of Jevonss economic sociology
is the sociology of the market, just as the (mar
ginalist) theory of markets, value, and prices is
the key element of his pure economics. One
implied element of Jevonss sociology of the
market is the observed impact of non economic
factors such as bargaining power and asym
metrical knowledge or information on market
transactions. This is what he essentially suggests
by observing that often market transactions
must be settled upon other than strictly eco
nomic grounds [supply and demand] (Jevons
1965), specifically on bargaining and by impli
cation power relations (an observation approv
ingly cited by his prominent marginalist
disciple, Francis Edgeworth). In turn, Jevons
predicts that the outcome of bargaining will
greatly depend on the comparative amount of
knowledge of each others position and needs
which either bargainer may possess or manage
to obtain in the course of the transaction (i.e.,
simply, asymmetrical or private information as a
particular (soft) facet or source of differential
power and domination). He therefore implies
that the bargaining outcome such as the market
price will be ultimately determined by what
Weber calls power constellations, specifically
economic domination by virtue of a constella
tion of interests, and contemporary sociologists
term differential positional power. Conse
quently, Jevons (1965) suggests indeterminate
bargains of this kind are best arranged by an
arbitrator or third party, including political
and other extraneous parties like government.
This indicates a second, related element of
Jevonss sociology of the market: the role of
political factors in markets. For illustration, he
observes that the so called political intelligence
of the moment often affects prospective sup
ply or demand (i.e., speculation) and its bearing
on market equilibrium (Jevons 1965). A third
element of Jevonss sociology of the market and
economic sociology overall involves the influ
ence of institutions on markets and the econ
omy. For example, he notes the hedonic
bearing of our social institutions (Jevons
1881), and thus suggests institutional influences
on market economic behavior, including pur
suit of pleasure or maximizing utility. Notably,
he recognizes that non economic institutions
have such a hedonic economic impact in virtue
of their contribution to human wants or mate
rial (and other) well being which he considers
(like Adam Smith) the sole object of all indus
try (Jevons 1965).
In sum, while mostly unknown and over
looked among sociologists, Jevons is potentially
interesting and intriguing for them on account
of his proposal of economic sociology, thus
formally contributing to the adoption and
development, even within economics, of a clas
sical sociological idea and field.
SEE ALSO: Comte, Auguste; Durkheim,
Emile; Economic Sociology: Neoclassical Eco
nomic Perspective; Markets; Mill, John Stuart;
Schumpeter, Joseph A.; Spencer, Herbert;
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED
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Jevons, W. S. (1866) Brief Account of a General
Mathematical Theory of Political Economy. Jour
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Jevons, W. S. (1881) A Review of Edgeworths
Mathematical Psychics. Mind 6: 581 3.
Jevons, W. S. (1965 ) The Theory of Political
Economy. A. M. Kelley, New York.
Mosselmans, B. & White, M. (2000) Introduction to
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Parsons, T. & Smelser, N. (1956) Economy and
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Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Wicksteed, P. (1905) Jevonss Economic Work. Eco
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Wicksteed, P. (1933) The Common Sense of Political
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