Neil Fligstein

Neil Fligstein
University of California, Berkeley | UCB · Department of Sociology

About

216
Publications
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17,196
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July 1991 - present
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Class of 1939 Professor

Publications

Publications (216)
Article
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American society has now been living in the wake of shareholder value capitalism for four decades. The shareholder value movement began as an invasion of the market for corporate control by financially oriented investors who critiqued sitting managers as not paying sufficient attention to the interests of shareholders during the economic crisis of...
Article
Full-text available
American society has now been living in the wake of shareholder value capitalism for four decades. The shareholder value movement began as an invasion of the market for corporate control by financially oriented investors who critiqued sitting managers as not paying sufficient attention to the interests of shareholders during the economic crisis of...
Chapter
Das Verhältnis von Handeln und Strukturen steht im Zentrum der soziologischen Theorie. Unter Bezug auf Neo-Institutionalismus und symbolischen Interaktionismus fokussiert die Theorie sozialer Geschicklichkeit die soziale Konstruktion lokaler sozialer Ordnungen mit Blick auf die Fähigkeit von Akteuren, andere zum Kooperieren zu bringen.
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Innovation does not just involve the creation of new products, but also includes the need for new kinds of processes and organizations. Field theory can help us understand why some innovations are more piecemeal and others more revolutionary. It explicitly links innovation to the process of the emergence, adjustment, and transformation of markets (...
Article
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Organizational theory was one of the roots of the “new” economic sociology. In recent years, a set of complementary research programs have come to the fore that augment our understanding of the social structuring of markets. These include an interest in the role of conventions and commensuration, market devices, the performativity of economics, and...
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Field theory is a promising and flexible framework for understanding social order and change with broad applicability to the concerns of political sociologists. While many in the subfield are rightly concerned with the relationship between “the state” and civil society, the implicit definition of political sociology as “the sociology of the state”...
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This essay responds to an invitation by the editors of Sociologica to write about publication strategy.
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Sociologists conceptualize lifestyles as structured hierarchically where people seek to emulate those higher up. Growing income inequality in the United States means those at the top bid up the price of valued goods like housing and those in lower groups have struggled to maintain their relative positions. We explore this process in the context of...
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One of the puzzles about the financial crisis of 2008 is why regulators, particularly the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), were so slow to recognize the impending collapse of the financial system and its broader consequences for the economy. We use theory from the literature on culture, cognition, and framing to explain this puzzle. Consistent...
Preprint
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Sociologists conceptualize lifestyles as structured hierarchically where people seek to emulate those higher up. Growing income inequality in the United States means those at the top bid up the price of valued goods like housing and those in lower groups have struggled to maintain their relative positions. We explore this process in the context of...
Article
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The 2007–2009 financial crisis was centered on the US mortgage industry. This article develops a distinctly sociological explanation of that crisis by focusing on the organization of firms in the production of mortgage-backed securities. We use archival and secondary sources to show that the industry became dominated by an 'industrial' conception o...
Chapter
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Field theory offers a view of social life concerned with how a set of actors orienting their actions to one another do so within a meso-level social order. Fields, once formed, are the arenas where the sociological game of jockeying for position constantly plays out. Our purpose is to review contemporary field theory as articulated in three major t...
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The financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 was marked by widespread fraud in the mortgage securitization industry. Most of the largest mortgage originators and mortgage-backed securities issuers and underwriters have been implicated in regulatory settlements, and many have paid multibillion-dollar penalties. This article seeks to explain why this behavio...
Chapter
The 2007–2009 financial crisis initially appeared to have destroyed a huge amount of wealth in the United States. Housing prices dropped about 21% across the country and as much as 50% in some places, and the stock market dropped by nearly 50% as well. This chapter examines how the financial crisis differentially affected households at different pa...
Chapter
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Economic sociology is the study of how the material conditions of life are produced and reproduced through social processes. The field of economic sociology can be separated into the sociology of markets and the sociology of consumption. The sociology of markets views markets as socially constructed arenas where repeated exchanges occur between buy...
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The European Union's (EU) political and economic integration project has grown dramatically since its inception in 1952. While the ultimate goal of the EU is unclear, one of its aspirations has been to attempt to create European citizens. The idea is that over time, citizens would look towards Europe as their main national identity. While the polit...
Chapter
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Markets are socially constructed arenas where repeated exchanges occur between buyers and sellers under a set of formal and informal rules governing relations among competitors, suppliers, and customers. These arenas operate according to local understandings and rules that guide interaction, facilitate trade, define what products are produced, inde...
Article
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As the financial economy has expanded beginning in the mid-1980s, it has done so in part by selling more products to individuals and households. Households have had more access to new forms of assets and debts and new ways to fund their lifestyles. This occurred at the same time that income inequality and job insecurity increased dramatically in th...
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The rising inequality of wages since the 1970s is by no means the only way the U.S. workforce is bifurcating. Inequality is showing itself in tenure, benefits, and job satisfaction, among other factors. These two sociologists comprehensively canvass the research and portray a nation split in two.
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The worldwide financial crisis that began in 2007 was set off by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the USA. The crisis simultaneously reverberated to banks around the world, and eventually brought about a worldwide recession. The biggest banks in the developed world got in trouble because theywerepursuing the same strategies to make p...
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Presents a perspective on the way economic circumstances are conceptualized and managed. Discusses creating a monetary regime; communicative imperatives; markets being a function of language; apprehensions; kultur; temporality; simulations; the inflationary tempest; liquidity-trap economics; the overheard conversation; intelligence; representationa...
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Book
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Finding ways to understand the nature of social change and social order-from political movements to market meltdowns-is one of the enduring problems of social science. This book draws together far-ranging insights from social movement theory, organizational theory, and economic and political sociology to construct a general theory of social organiz...
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The discovery of meso-level social orders in organizational theory, political sociology, and social movement theory, what have subsequently been called sectors, policy domains, and most popularly, fields (or in organizational sociology, organizational fields), opens up a theoretical terrain that has not yet been fully explored (see Martin, 2003 for...
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Early theorists of European integration speculated that economic integration would lead to political integration and a European identity. A European identity has not displaced national identities in the EU, but, for a significant share of EU citizens, a European identity exists alongside a national identity. At the same time, political parties asse...
Chapter
Die Schnittstelle von Organisationstheorie und Sozialer Bewegungsforschung hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren als wissenschaftlich äußerst ertragreich erwiesen, und wir schätzen viele der Arbeiten, die in diesem Forschungsbereich entstanden sind. Dennoch ist unserer Meinung nach eine weitaus radikalere Neukonzeption von Struktur und Handeln in mode...
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* This paper was supported by a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation for a project entitled "The New Inequalities at Work. " We benefited from comments at colloquia
Chapter
The European Community’s Single Market Program (SMP) represented an attempt to reinvigorate political and economic cooperation across Western Europe. Much of the scholarly controversy assumes that business interests can be identified and their role specified in the process of negotiating the SMP. The purpose of this article is to provide survey evi...
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Organizing America: Wealth, Power, and the Origins of Corporate Capitalism. By PerrowCharles. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001. xi + 259 pp. Index, notes, bibliography, figures. Cloth, $34.95. ISBN 0-691-08954-X. - Volume 77 Issue 2 - Neil Fligstein
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abstractThis article sets a new agenda for research on the trajectory of Chinese capitalism. We first critically review the conflicting views on the causes of China's economic development. Then we suggest that insights from the comparative capitalism and economic sociology literatures can provide theoretical tools to understand the critical feature...
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Socializing Capital: The Rise of the Large Industrial Corporation in America. By RoyWilliam G.. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997. Notes, tables, references, and index. 360 pp. Cloth, $45.00, ISBN 069104353; Paper, $18.95, ISBN 069101034X. - Volume 74 Issue 1 - Neil Fligstein
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The World's Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century. By McKennaChristopher D.. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. xxi + 370 pp. Illustrations, figures, tables, notes, index. Cloth, $30.00. ISBN: 0-521-81039-6. - Volume 81 Issue 1 - Neil Fligstein
Article
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Economic sociology is the study of how the material conditions of life are produced and reproduced through social processes. The field of economic sociology can be separated into the sociology of markets and the sociology of consumption. The sociology of markets views markets as socially constructed arenas where repeated exchanges occur between buy...
Chapter
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As institutions and governance structures develop in modern markets, they tend to “feed back” onto economic activity. Through such feedback loops, market and political arenas can develop symbiotically into relatively coherent “fields” that gradually embed actors’ orientations and activities. Using these insights, this article develops and tests a t...
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The 2007-2009 financial crisis was centered on the nonconventional mortgage industry. Scholars have just begun to carefully consider what really caused the crisis. This paper pushes the debate forward in several ways. First, we elucidate four different theoretical approaches, "financialization", "actor-network/performativity", "perverse incentives"...
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In recent years there has been an outpouring of work at the intersection of social movement studies and organizational theory. While we are generally in sympathy with this work, we think it implies a far more radical rethinking of structure and agency in modern society than has been realized to date. In this article, we offer an over brief sketch o...
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The current crisis in the mortgage securitization industry highlights significant failures in our models of how markets work and our political will, organizational capability, and ideological desire to intervene in markets. This paper shows that one of the main sources of failure has been the lack of a coherent understanding of how these markets ca...
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The European Union has produced a remarkable set of agreements to guide the political interactions of countries across Europe in the past fifty years. These agreements have produced collective rules governing market transactions of all varieties, created a single currency, established a rule of law that includes a European court, and promoted incre...
Article
Before the mid-1970s, the United States pioneered the regulation of product markets, labor markets, and the environment. But the intellectual and political assaults on social and economic regulation over the past thirty years, a process whose intellectual basis receives careful attention in Jessica Leicht's contribution for this volume, have left A...
Article
Most studies of European integration have focused narrowly on the political and legal processes in Brussels. This has caused scholars to miss how profoundly the European economy has been re-organized by the successive use of European rules to reorganize the economy. The European Union, member state Governments, and European corporations have worked...
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I remember the first time I read Alfred Chandler's Strategy and Structure as a graduate student in the mid-1970s. I was taking a class on the sociology of organizations and finding that many of the assigned books and articles did not interest me. Corporations are clearly one of the dominant forces in our society, yet none of what I read seemed to c...
Chapter
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This chapter aims to supplement the understanding of entrepreneurship and competition by demonstrating that they cannot occur without governments and stable social structures to support them. It considers two major developments in the American economy that have been typically hailed as emblematic of the working out of free markets: the emergence of...
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Market Institutions: Some DefinitionsThe Model of ActionState-Building as Market-BuildingThe Problem of Change and Stability in MarketsConclusions
Book
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The European Union's market integration project has dramatically altered economic activity around Europe. This book presents extensive evidence on how trade has increased, jobs have been created, and European business has been reorganized. However, changes in the economy have been accompanied by dramatic changes in how people from different societi...

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Projects (3)
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Project
I am writing a social history of the U.S. mortgage market. My study synthesizes what we know about how people got mortgages from 1840 until 1980. Then it provides a detailed account based on original and archival research to explore the collapse of the savings and loan industry and the rise of mortgage securitization. Finally it tracks the 2001-2009 period and considers what happened, why the crisis spread around the world, what regulators were doing before the crisis, and why banks committed extensive fraud.