Living in a Material World

From Inside Technology

Living in a Material World

Economic Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Edited by Trevor Pinch and Richard Swedberg

Understanding the intersection of economic sociology and science and technology studies through the idea of materiality.





Understanding the intersection of economic sociology and science and technology studies through the idea of materiality.

Although social scientists generally agree that technology plays a key role in the economy, economics and technology have yet to be brought together into a coherent framework that is both analytically interesting and empirically oriented. This book draws on the tools of science and technology studies and economic sociology to reconceptualize the intersection of economy and technology, suggesting materiality—the idea that social existence involves not only actors and social relations but also objects—as the theoretical point of convergence. The contributors take up general concerns, such as individual agency in a network economy and the materiality of the household in economic history, as well as specific financial technologies such as the stock ticker, the trading room, and the telephone. Forms of infrastructure—accounting, global configurations of trading and information technologies, and patent law—are examined. Case studies of the impact of the Internet and information technology on consumption (e-commerce), the reputation economy (the rise of online reviews of products), and organizational settings (outsourcing of an IT system) round off this collection of essays.

ContributorsElizabeth Popp Berman, Daniel Beunza, Michel Callon, Karin Knorr Cetina, Shay David, Thomas F. Gieryn, Barbara Grimpe, David Hatherly, David Leung, Christian Licoppe, Donald MacKenzie, Philip Mirowski, Fabian Muniesa, Edward Nik-Khah, Trevor Pinch, Alex Preda, Nicholas J. Rowland, David Stark, Richard Swedberg


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262162524 416 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 18 b&w illus., 4 tables


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262662079 416 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 18 b&w illus., 4 tables


Trevor Pinch

Trevor Pinch is Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and coeditor of The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology (anniversary edition, MIT Press).

Richard Swedberg

Richard Swedberg is Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. He is the author of Max Weber and the Idea of Economic Sociology, Principles of Economic Sociology, and other books.


  • This book is a well-timed effort to investigate the crucial relationship between technology and economy by joining the forces of science and technology studies and economic sociology. It improves our understanding of the diverse ways in which the world is material, while breaking new ground to conceptualize the relationship between technology and economy. The book convincingly demonstrates how this relationship is much more complex and interactive than the established idea that economy shapes technology, while new technologies offer economic options through innovation.

    Knut H. Sørensen

    Professor of Sociology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology