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BSOC-108: Economic Sociology

BSOC-108: Economic Sociology

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for BSOC-108 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Economic Sociology, you have come to the right place. BSOC-108 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in BASOH courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: BSOC-108/ASST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BSOC-108

Assignment Name: Economic Sociology

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in the Sections.


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each. 2×20


1. What is the relationship between economy and society? Discuss with suitable examples.

Ans) Economic sociology, as we all know, is a way to critically interact with the premises of neoclassical economic theory as well as a specialised paradigm for understanding how human agents behave within their social surroundings. Establishing the connections between economic and social phenomena is the goal of the field of study and research known as economic sociology.


The classical economic theory, which was based on the constancy of human nature and conduct, was influenced by Adam Smith. It was also assumed that customers make rational decisions and base their purchases on a product's utilitarian features. Sociologists then refute these assumptions by arguing that because people behave in social and cultural circumstances, their actions can differ between cultures. However, it does not forbid comparisons of particular actions. For instance, according to Max Weber, three social variables in particular can have an impact on any social activity: tradition, affect, and rational-legal.


Ancient Period

Indian economy has always included the urban sector as a vital component. The Indus Valley Civilization, the first civilization in India, is recognised as a highly advanced urban civilization with a sizable rural agrarian basis. Many cities and towns thrived in the Indus valley, including Harappa and Mohenjodaro, Lothal, Kalibangan, and Banwali, according to archaeological digs.


However, the beginning of the Rigvedic era signifies an end to the preceding urban civilization. The Rigvedic people led a pastoral and semi-nomadic lifestyle. In the later Vedic Period, people gradually moved into villages and turned to agriculture as their primary source of income. In modern literature, sixty towns are mentioned, including well-known ones like Rajagriha, Pataliputra, Sravasti, Kausambi, Varanasi, etc.


Even under the Gupta dynasty, towns and cities maintained their prosperity through the Maurya and post-Maurya periods. But in the post-Gupta era, the nation had to go through a phase of urban deterioration. Only starting in the ninth century did this trend start to change. Let's now take a closer look at several elements of the urban economy during this time, including trade, commerce, the arts and crafts industry, the guild system, and social classes.


1) Trade and Commerce

The majority of jobs in cities are not related to agriculture. Trade and commerce are significant endeavours. Both current writing and archaeological relics provide evidence of both internal and foreign trade during the ancient era. Both the periods of prosperity and collapse were experienced by trade and commerce.


2) Arts and Crafts

The practise of numerous arts and crafts, in which a huge number of people were involved, was another significant part of the ancient urban economy. This includes artisans who worked with wood, metal, leather, pottery, ivory, weaving, painting, and other materials. These artisans were socially divided into different castes. Younger members were instructed by elders in hereditary caste occupations.


3) Guild System

The presence of the guild system was a striking aspect of the way the urban economy was organised. Urban craftsmen and businessmen had established craft and trade guilds as an alternative to the jajmani system that governed the rural economy. Members of a specific guild were associated with the same profession or trade. There were guilds for people who made pottery, smithswomen, ivory, etc. These guilds were crucial in both the management of industry and the forming of public opinion. The great majority of artisans joined guilds because these organisations gave them social standing and protection from rivalry. To protect both the artisan and the buyer, the guilds established standards for work, product quality, and price. They were in charge of manufacturing product pricing as well.


2. Describe the two different schools of thought-formalism and substantivisim.

Ans) The two schools of thought in Economic Anthropology that have been divided into these two groupings since the middle of the 1950s are referred to as "Formalism" and "Substantivism." 'Formal' and ‘substantive' economies are distinguished, according to Karl Polanyi, a historian of economics from Hungary. Karl Polanyi suggested that economy can be described in two terms: formal and substantive, drawing on the work of German sociologist Max Weber who makes a distinction between formal and substantive rationality. Due to two methodological disagreements, this divergence resulted in the development of the substantivism and formalist schools of thought in economic anthropology and sociology.


While substantivism is descriptive and grounded on experience, formalism is founded on a deductive and logical way of thinking. While substantivizes, like Karl Polanyi, contend that economics is embedded in social-cultural contexts, formalist approach is founded on the idea of economic rationality as individuals maximising their own interests. Paul Bohannan, Pedro Carrasco, Louis Dumont, Timothy Earle, Maurice Godelier, Claude Meillassoux, John Murra, Marshall Sahlins, Rhoda Halperin, Eric Wolf, and George Dalton are notable members of the "substantivist" viewpoint, a new school of thought in economic anthropology founded by Polanyi.



Formalism is linked to the fundamentals of the capitalism system, which are vastly different from those of the pre-capitalist systems. Additionally, it implies that the tenets of a capitalist economy are viewed as universal, putting non-industrial economies under the tenets of a market economy. Formalists contend that non-capitalist economies can be understood by applying the formal principles of neoclassical economic theory, which were primarily derived from the study of capitalist market cultures. For instance, American anthropologist Melville Herskovits, one of the Formalists, supported this viewpoint in his book The Economic Life of Primitive People. He claimed that the desire for abundance and maximisation is a universal trait. Everywhere, the same methods are used to accomplish various goals.



According to Polanyi, the idea of economic rationality is a fairly unique historical concept that primarily refers to the early modern market societies that developed in Western Europe. Thus, according to Polanyi, rational self-interest is more a characteristic of a very specific society: market society. Instead, socially motivated behaviour, or behaviour motivated toward the interests of one's family, clan, or village, is what makes human behaviour "natural" rather than self-interested behaviour.


Polanyi contends that communitarian organisational patterns can be discovered in a number of traditional societies, replacing economic rationality and the market mechanism as the foundation for the structure of the premarket economy. According to Polanyi, history and ethnography offer a wide range of fundamental institutions for the economy and society. "Market institutions are historically distinctive and exhibit significant regional and geographic heterogeneity.


That said, it appears that trade, artisanship, the manufacture of goods for the market, and other related activities have a very long history in human communities. We can understand quite well how these kinds of economic exchanges would repeatedly arise out of regular human activity and connection because they are clearly documented in ancient China, Europe, and the Americas. Therefore, markets are undoubtedly not the almost singular historical invention that Polanyi claims they are.


Additionally, we can distinguish between "market" institutions based on whether they are structured around consumption or profit, use or accumulation. Polanyi disagrees with the notion that rational self-interest is the root of all human drive. Instead, this social psychology of "possessive individualism," according to Polanyi, "is itself a highly peculiar historical product — not a constant aspect of human nature." In fact, according to Polanyi, "social incentives are more fundamental than rational self-interest."


Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each. 3×10


3. Discuss the views of Max Weber and Karl Marx on the relation between economy and society?

Ans) Contrary to what many social science academics believe, the relationship between Economics and Sociology is one of cooperation and complementarity. It is frequently necessary to add a sociological perspective to analysis of economic events that are merely economic. Even some neoclassical economists caution that sociological insights must be included in the explanation of many economic events. The shifting economic and social environments they were surrounded by worried many of the early nineteenth century's classic sociologists. Even though there were no proper specialisations in sociology at the time, their interests and inquiries were focused.


The shifting world order and sociologists' concerns were largely influenced by capitalism, industrialization, urbanisation, fast technological advancement, and various kinds of collective action. Karl Marx, for instance, contends that social change and reproduction are significantly influenced by the economy. It is becoming more obvious that society is basically structured around the economy and that the social class structure is dependent on the particular mode of production.


Although Max Weber also looked at the connection between social behaviour and economic structures, he chose to look at how cultural elements affect how our economies are structured. It prompted him to emphasise the significance of the "protestant ethic" in the development of the "spirit of capitalism" in the contemporary west. Emile Durkheim also attempted to investigate the connection between social realities and societal collective consciousness.


Durkheim was especially curious on how the division of labour operates specifically in contemporary societies and how it explains how groups and solidarities are formed. He observes that as modern technology develops, societies become more distinct and new types of social cohesion appear. The foundations of economic sociology are these traditional evaluations of the economy and society. To describe the social upheaval brought on by the industrial and commercial revolutions, social theorists created a number of categories, such as tradition-modern, status-contract, and others.


4. What did Karl Polanyi mean by the concept of embededness of economy?

Ans) According to Polanyi, in non-capitalist, pre-industrial economies livelihoods are not based on market exchange but on redistribution and reciprocity. Reciprocity is defined as the mutual exchange of goods or services as part of long-term relationships. Redistribution implies the existence of a strong political centre such as kinship-based leadership, which receives and then redistributes subsistence goods according to culturally specific principles. Economic decision-making in such places is not so much based on individual choice, but rather on social relationships, cultural values, moral concerns, politics, religion or the fear instilled by authoritarian leadership. Production in most peasant and tribal societies is for the producers, also called 'production for use' or subsistence production, as opposed to 'production for exchange' which has profit maximisation as its chief aim.


This difference in types of economy is explained by the 'embeddedness' of economic i.e., provisioning activities in other social institutions such as kinship in non-market economies. Rather than being a separate and distinct sphere, the economy is embedded in both economic and non-economic institutions. Exchange takes place within and is regulated by society rather than being located in a social vacuum. For example, religion and government can be just as important to economics as economic institutions themselves. Socio-cultural obligations, norms and values play a significant role in people's livelihood strategies.


Consequently, any analysis of economics as an analytically distinct entity isolated from its socio-cultural and political context is flawed from the outset. A substantivist analysis of economics will therefore focus on the study of the various social institutions on which people's livelihoods are based. The market is only one amongst many institutions that determine the nature of economic transactions. Polanyi's central argument is that institutions are the primary organisers of economic processes. The substantive economy is an "instituted process of interaction between man and his environment, which results in a continuous supply of want satisfying material means


5. Discuss with examples the nature of reciprocity found in society.

Ans) The aforementioned discussion makes clear that returning in proportion to what has been received is the fundamental aspect of reciprocity. This reflects the ethical aspect of reciprocity, which also obligates a person to give back to the giver. Additionally, the moral principles of justice and fairness are at the foundation of reciprocity. As a result, the favours that are returned can be seen as both a reward and a way of making up for all the goods and services that the initial provider received. The models of justice presented by John Rawls in his "Theory of Justice," which was released in 1971, can be used to understand this concept, such as the retributive justice typified by "an eye for an eye."


Retributive justice dictates that the exchange of products for goods and services for services, as in a barter system, can be used as the counterparts to what has been received. A written contract is used to facilitate these mutually beneficial exchanges. Constant interchange of both economic and non-economic commodities is required for reciprocity. However, it is never guaranteed whether the return in exchange would be comparable to what is supplied. Further trades are threatened by this ambiguity, which is addressed by three types of enforcement mechanisms: legal, rational, and social enforcement.

  1. Legal enforcement

  2. Rational enforcement

  3. Social enforcement


Assignment – III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each. 5×6


6. What were the core ideas of Mark Granovetter on “embededness” in society?

Ans) Economic Sociologist Mark Granovetter provided a new research paradigm for these researchers. Granovetter argued that the neoclassical view of economic action which separated economics from society and culture promoted an 'undersocialized account' that atomises human behaviour. Similarly, he argued, substantivizes had an "over-socialized" view of economic actors, refusing to see the ways that rational choice could influence the ways they acted in traditional, "embedded" social roles. Actors do not behave or decide as atoms outside a social context, nor do they adhere slavishly to a script written for them by the particular intersection of social categories that they happen to occupy. Their attempts at purposive action are instead embedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations.


Granovetter applied the concept of embeddedness to market societies, demonstrating that even there, "rational" economic exchanges are influenced by pre-existing social ties. In his study of ethnic Chinese business networks in Indonesia, Granovetter found individuals' economic agency embedded in networks of strong personal relations. In processes of clientelization the cultivation of personal relationships between traders and customers assumes an equal or higher importance than the economic transactions involved. Economic exchanges are not carried out between strangers but rather by individuals involved in long-term continuing relationships.


7. What is the meaning of generalized reciprocity? Explain.

Ans) Generalized reciprocity is a type of reciprocity that is frequently inspired by the desire to help and the attitude of generosity. Reciprocity in this sense involves "something for nothing" types of transactions. This indicates that even while giving without expecting anything in return, the giver experiences satisfaction from the one-way transaction. As a result, it follows that generalised reciprocity entails giving without expecting anything in return. This type of reciprocity is common in cultures where people have strong emotional bonds with one another and feel obligated to provide for one another's needs.


A typical illustration of this type of reciprocity can be found in both traditional and modern households, where parents nurture their kids and give them all the necessities without anticipating anything in return. Ekeh counters that generalised reciprocity does not require that services provided by one be reciprocated by the recipient but rather by another. Fowler and Christakis refer to it as "pay-it-forward" reciprocity because of this.


8. Discuss the nature of society of people dependent on hunting and gathering?

Ans) Family as the Basic Unit: A society is mostly made up of a group of individuals who live together in small groups inside a single family. In a society, several groups are related to one another in some way.


Greater geographic spread: Hunting and gathering communities are typically dispersed over greater areas. In a hunting and gathering civilization, every unit camps apart from the others.


No single unit in hunting and gathering communities has any established formal rules. The headman is the only one with legal authority. However, each hunting and gathering group has a collectively elected headman who serves as their leader and is typically a pair of males.


Natural resources as a source of food: Since it affects hunting and gathering societies' way of life, food is often at the forefront of conversation. The natural environment in which hunters and gatherers hunt or gather is their primary source of sustenance.


Relations of exchange: Hunting and gathering communities protect some food supplies, but only to a limited extent. Each hunting and gathering tribe simultaneously has access to a specific kind of natural resource, which they use to prepare meals.


Gendered division of labour, or the distribution of labour between two sexes rather than within one, is present among hunters and gatherers. However, the uneven division of labour among them can occasionally be attributed to age as well.


9. Define and discuss the meaning of pomology with examples?

Ans) Planting, harvesting, and selling of fruits and nuts are all part of pomology.


Fruits are divided into two categories by horticulturists: fruits from trees and fruits from bushes.


Large fruits are often ones grown on the former, whereas little fruits are those produced on bushes. These two varieties of fruits come from evergreen plants. But horticulturists distinguish between authentic and fake fruits when classifying fruits. True fruits, also known as simple fruits, are those that have grown entirely from the tissues of a single ovary. Peach, orange, plum, and other fruits fall within the category of real fruits. Strawberries, apples, pears, and other fake fruits are among them. These fictitious fruits are made up of ovary and tissues.


10. What do you understand by ‘modes of production’ Give an example?

Ans) In the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production is a specific combination of the:

  1. Productive forces: these include human labour power and means of production tools, machinery, factory buildings, infrastructure, technical knowledge.

  2. Social and technical relations of production: these include the property, power and control relations governing the means of production of society, cooperative work associations, relations between people and the objects of their work, and the relations among the social classes.


Marx said that a person's productive ability and participation in social relations are two essential characteristics of social reproduction, and that the particular modality of those social relations in the capitalist mode of production is inherently in conflict with the progressive development of the productive capabilities of human beings. A precursor concept was Adam Smith's mode of subsistence, which delineated a progression of types of society based upon how the citizens of a society provided for their material needs.

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