The political dynamics of market organization: Cultural framing, neoliberalism, and the case of airline deregulation

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Sociologists have argued that markets are politically constituted, yet we lack an understanding of the causal mechanisms through which political mobilization organizes and reorganizes markets over time. In this article I show how the concept of cultural framing - already widely used by economic sociologists - can be further developed to explain how mobilization reproduces markets in some moments while reorganizing them in others. Specifically, I link the concept of cultural framing to rent-seeking mobilization within markets to better explain when political contestation will lead to new market institutions and when it will fail to do so. I illustrate the value of this approach through an analysis of deregulation in the U.S. airline industry and conclude by discussing the consequences of the model and empirical case for the politics of markets, the rise of neoliberalism, and economic policymaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-302
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2012



  • airlines
  • culture
  • neoliberalism
  • political economy
  • sociology of markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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