Investigating economic phenomena is an important area of research in sociology and political science. However, economic sociology and political economy often differ in the level of analysis they choose. Economic sociologists have, for the most part, investigated the “embeddedness” of economic action in order to show that economic outcomes can only be explained with reference to social life— its structure, institutions, and culture— and the way it shapes opportunity structures and actors’ beliefs. Often, it is believed that embeddedness is seen as a means of allowing the reduction of uncertainty. Economic sociology has focused on the micro- and mesolevels of analysis, and scholarship in this field frequently consists of case studies showing the different ways in which economic action in con temporary economies is embedded.
The institutional approach of political economy, by contrast, focuses on explaining macro level outcomes, investigating the development of the capitalist economy in relation to the state and to dominant interest groups. Much research in this tradition has attempted to explain the institutional differences among developed capitalist regimes, as well as the macroeconomic consequences of these differences (Hall and Soskice 2001b). More recently, the investigation of capitalism as such has (again) become a topic of increasing interest (Streeck 2011).