Monday, September 17, 2007

Sociology and Property Rights

Although it is a nice piece, the paper "The Sociology of Property Rights" is debatable how much of it is sociology per se. In actuality, most of the paper, which given the journal (research annual) that it is published one would expect to survey sociology contributions, turns out to be a survey of — economics. Specifically, the contributions of Coase, Demsetz, Barzel, and even Hart and Moore are highlighted and summarized. The authors themselves acknowledge that sociology "neglects" property rights. Others have made similar observations (e.g., Richard Swedberg).

According to Nicolai Foss, a blogger from the Organizations and Markets, this neglect of property rights is bizarre; after all, property rights, in a sort of proto-Hartian understanding, were central in Marx' thought. Durkheim and Veblen also didn't neglect property rights. Intuitively, one would think of property rights as a preeminent sociological theme, as it involves power, social stratification, inequality, and other sociology favorites. So, what accounts for the neglect?

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