Paolo Giovannini

Tra economia e sociologia: l'eredità trascurata di Alfred Marshall

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This article debates the main relations between economics and sociology in the thought of the great English economist Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) and the reasons of his weak influence on the contemporary sociological theory. Mainly through a close examination of Marshall's "Principles" (1890), the author analyses the ways in which Marshall answers to some fundamental sociological questions: i) the theory of social action, where are the values to move the individual action, but of an individual deeply embedded in his network of social and institutional relations; ii) the most important mechanisms of social and cultural reproduction, identified with family, school and job; iii) the problem of social change, with special attention to the processes of social mobility and to the choices of individuals and families in the different phases of their life courses. In many of these points, Marshall greatly helps to the sociological understanding of economic and industrial development of his times, at least at the same level of the most important classical interpreters of capitalist society. More known, but often read with a weak sociological sense, his analyses of typical social and cultural processes of the localized productive areas. In the last part, the article tries to explain why, with a few exceptions, Marshallian theory has been heavily neglected by the sociologists, and even by the economic sociologists.

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