By Kaj Illomen
Kaj Ilmonen was once a pioneer within the 3rd wave of the sociology of intake. This book provides a balanced review of the sociology of intake, arguing that the passion of 'the 3rd wave' exaggerated the position of the symbolic and imaginary on the rate of the materiality of human societies.
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The workings of the modern global economy, its ‘China (or India or Brazil) phenomenon’, structural unemployment and monopolistic tendencies all go to show just how far removed Friedman’s thinking is from economic reality, and was so even in the 1980s. Even then, he was unable to justify the linkage between markets and freedom, on the one hand, and the state and coercion, on the other. He completely ignores the fact that even in the United States, large swathes of the private sector depend on direct or indirect state support, and that a large proportion of private companies have grown under the protective wing of the state.
Furthermore, the markets required legal protection for private interests vis-à-vis the state. This concerned state taxation in particular, which had a tendency to keep rising because of recurring wars and the growing costs of running armies. If any country thought it was at a disadvantage in world trade, decisions on protective duties were also for the state to make, as was the establishment and implementation of an economic policy that safeguarded the nation’s economic development (see Cameron 1993, 150–152).
There is also no justification for his extrapolation from those conditions to the macro-level description where markets suddenly become a ‘self-regulating system’, which is Polanyi’s definition for market economy. When the focus of analysis is shifted from rural markets to trade and commerce in the cities, it becomes apparent that markets are an institutional structure. The step from local regulated city markets to market economy, then, is a historically complex process that emphasizes the institutional foundation of market economy to a much greater extent than Friedman does (Friedman 1982, 37, 41–42, 57).