October, 2011

The Sociability and Morality of Market Settlements

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Since at least Max Weber, social scientists have looked closely at the nexus between markets and cities.  Weber believed that cities and markets were inextricably linked.  In his seminal work Economy & Society, for instance, Weber ([1921] 1978, p. 1213) describes the city as a market settlement.  As he writes, 'a city . . . is always a market centre.  It has a local market which forms the economic centre of the settlement and on which both the non-urban population and the townsmen satisfy their wants for craft products or trade articles by means of exchange.'  The difference between a city and other settlements, then, is the existence of a market rather than the size of the population, or the type of dwellings, or the nature of the social activities that occur, or any other criteria that we might use.  Although Weber's centrally located marketplaces have long since been replaced by malls and shopping plazas and high-rise business districts and swanky shopping streets, market activity is still at the centre of city life.

Read the chapter at SSRN and purchase the Handbook of Creative Cities at Amazon.com.