The Epistemization of Economic Transactions


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The article examines the role played by non-academic economic knowledge in advanced economies with respect to market exchanges. Starting from arguments formulated in the neoclassic economic theory, as well as in the newer economic sociology, it shows that practical economic knowledge cannot be either reduced to a simplified notion of information, or regarded as external with respect to economic processes. On the basis of an ethnographic case study of a major European bank, the article shows how economic exchanges are embedded not only in networks of relationships, but also in processes of knowledge production, which structure the transaction-relevant worlds. As a consequence, the production of economic knowledge has become in the past few decades not only a specialized subfield of economic transactions, but has also gained in importance. By contrast with the practices of most natural sciences, which can be viewed as an intervening epistemology, the cognitive practices of applied economics are constituted as a `specular epistemology' - that is, as based on continuous observation and data assemblage. As in the natural sciences, participants use the resources at hand in order to produce transaction-relevant world-views, thus providing economic action with more general cognitive frames.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-44
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • economic knowledge
  • embeddedness


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