Book Review: Varietals of Capitalism: A Political Economy of the Changing Wine Industry

Image resultXabier Itçaina, Antoine Roger, Andy Smith : Varietals of Capitalism: A Political Economy of the Changing Wine Industry. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016.280 pp. $45.00, hardcover.

Royston Greenwood of University of Edinburgh recently published a book review in Administrative Science Quarterly. An excerpt from the book review:

The empirical story analyzed in Varietals of Capitalism concerns the events surrounding the 2008 decision of the European Union to significantly change the regulations governing the wine industry in Europe. Since that year, the EU has abandoned direct intervention in wine markets (the old and long-established policy was to subsidize distillation surpluses), used EU funds to “grub out” 175,000 hectares of uneconomical vines across Europe, revoked laws that prohibited specific techniques for wine production, and created simplified categories of wine. Using primarily qualitative data—documentary materials and interviews—collected from France, Spain, Italy, and Romania, the authors provide an account of these very significant institutional changes.

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The empirical story, however, is only the context for the authors’ primary purpose, which is to showcase a holistic theoretical framework that, they claim, “draws not only on original empirical research but also, more fundamentally, on a new standpoint in social science debates about economic change” (p. 2). As the authors put it, “our focus is on the efforts a wide range of socially structured actors make to build, maintain, dismantle, or even destroy the institutions that provide them with varying degrees of order and constraint” (p. 32). The framework that they offer (rather unfortunately named the “structured contingency” approach) “combines the tools of constructivist approaches to institutionalism . . . Bourdeau’s theory of fields . . . and a Weberian sociology approach to political work in industries” (p. 2). In presenting their framework, the authors repeatedly point out its superiority to four alternatives: actor network theory, sociological institutionalism, institutionalist economics, and regulationist economics. (A fifth alternative, historical institutionalism, is also mentioned.) “Put bluntly,” these “major theory-driven interpretations of change in the European wine industry are incomplete or wrong” (p. 4). So, no false modesty here!

You can read the rest of the book review published in Administrative Science Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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