Journal Article

Economic objects as cultural objects: discourse on foreign investment in post-socialist Europe

Nina Bandelj

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 6, issue 4, pages 671-702
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwn014
Economic objects as cultural objects: discourse on foreign investment in post-socialist Europe

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Bringing together perspectives from economic sociology and cultural sociology, this paper proposes that because economic phenomena are imbued with meaning they can be studied as cultural objects. This approach includes first identifying the content of people's understanding of economic phenomena and then tracing out what is it that structures their interpretations. The paper applies the cultural objects analysis to the public debates surrounding foreign investment in post-socialist Slovenia. Actors interpret economic phenomena so they can provide justifications for the positions they adopt in public debates and assess possible strategies of action. The content analysis of newspaper texts shows that foreign globalization pressures are mostly framed in a binary relation to national interests. But because economic consequences are uncertain, the particular understandings of how foreign investment affects national interests are multiple, even contradictory. They are shaped by the social identities of actors and historical and macro-structural conditions of post-socialism that make salient different, often contradictory, institutional orders.

Keywords: culture; economic sociology; globalization; transitional economies; Z13 economic sociology; F01 global outlook; P2 transitional economies

Journal Article.  12064 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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