American Sociological Association

Markets, Nature, and Society: Embedding Economic & Environmental Sociology

Social scientists have drawn on theories of embeddedness to explain the different ways legal, political, and cultural frameworks shape markets. Often overlooked, however, is how the materiality of nature also structures markets. In this article, I suggest that neo-Polanyian scholars, and economic sociologists more generally, should better engage in a historical sociology of concept formation to problematize the human exemptionalist paradigm their work upholds and recognize the role of nature in shaping markets and society. Unearthing nature in the work of Karl Polanyi, I develop a theory of embeddedness that more closely accounts for the economic, the social, and the ecological. In doing so, I provide a way for scholars to conceptualize both how market societies shape nature and how nature shapes market societies.


Kaup, B. Z.





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