Social and Cultural Dimensions of Market Expansion
We have identified three dimensions of market expansion: the growth of market oriented production and trade, internal and external market integration and the creation of virtual markets. These three processes can occur side by side and are connected with social and cultural change. Classical social scientists, dealing with this problem, have concentrated on the social and religious aspects. More recently researchers has rediscovered the topic and emphasised institutional and social transition in the wake of market expansion or they have focused on the cultural consequences of post-modern mass production and consumption.
The question then arises how development sociology can operate in a global market i.e. in a situation where macro processes and forces dominate development, development theory and development practise. Can sociologists and anthropologists trained in the classical tradition of field research compete successfully with economists well-versed in constructing formal macro-models? The shift in development theory away from grand theories towards a greater emphasis on everyday life and local culture, away from macro-planning to people-oriented and participatory development show that development anthropology and empirical sociology are gaining in prominence. Nevertheless it would be a mistake to leave the field of macro theorising to economists and monetary experts. At least the conditions under which development anthropology and sociology have to operate in research and in practise need to be researched and conceptually constructed. Towards this end we have identified the social and cultural dimensions of market expansion as a major field of study and have provided a preliminary framework for analysis to be used as a heuristic device for further research or, at least, as a guide in the discourse on a very important but difficult topic.