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Market System Dynamics


Pellandini-Simányi L.

Course director

Conte L.




How do markets emerge and change? The standard economics answer points to the emergence and change of demand and supply. This generic answer is not essentially wrong. Its only problem is that it does not address the questions that really matter: of where the ‘preferences’ driving demand and supply come from and why they change. These questions, in turn, have long been the focus of economic sociology, organizational theory, sociology of consumption and more recently, marketing scholarship on market dynamics. These approaches analyse market actors as social agents, whose ‘preferences’ and motivations are shaped by cultural and social structures – organizations, institutions, groups and society. They explain market emergence and change as socio-cultural processes, unfolding through struggles and negotiations across different social groups, ideas and practices.


This course introduces students, first, to key theoretical approaches in the field, covering theories that address the organizational side (e.g. institutionalism, field theory) and the consumer side (e.g. practice theory, theories of taste) of market dynamics, as well as recent developments that bring these two sides of the market together (e.g. performativity, inter-disciplinary market studies and the market system dynamics approach). Second, through its practical elements of case discussions and a group project, the course equips students with the skills to carry out socio-cultural analysis of market dynamics.



Course objectives

The course will enable students to

  1. understand the differences between economics and socio-cultural approaches to markets
  2. become familiar with the most important theories of how markets emerge and change
  3. identify key actors and mechanisms of market emergence and change in real life cases
  4. contrast different theoretical arguments with real life cases and form a critical opinion.



Students will work in groups of four-five to analyse a concrete case of market emergence or change of their choice. The mark consist of two parts: 70% is the final written exam and 30% are group assignments and class participation.


Pass is from grade 6.



Textbooks and/or bibliography

Selected chapters of the following handbooks (a detailed reading list will be available on iCorsi):


Araujo, Luis, John Finch, and Hans Kjellberg, eds. (2010), Reconnecting Marketing to Markets, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1984), Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Giesler, Markus and Eileen Fischer (2017), "Market System Dynamics," Special Issue Marketing Theory, 17 (1).

MacKenzie, Donald, Fabian Muniesa, and Lucia Siu (eds.)(2007), Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Smelser, Neil J. and Richard Swedberg eds. (2010), Handbook of Economic Sociology, Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Royston Greenwood, Christine Oliver, Kerstin Sahlin and Roy Suddaby eds. (2008), The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, London: SAGE Publications.

Scaraboto, D. and Fischer, E. (2013) ‘Frustrated Fatshionistas: An Institutional Theory Perspective on Consumer Quests for Greater Choice in Mainstream Markets’, Journal of Consumer Research 39(5): 1234–1257.