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Conceptualizing CapitalismInstitutions, Evolution, Future$
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Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226168005

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226168142.001.0001

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Commodity Exchange and Markets

Commodity Exchange and Markets

(p.129) Chapter Five Commodity Exchange and Markets
Conceptualizing Capitalism

Geoffrey M. Hodgson

University of Chicago Press

Three Nobel laureates in economics have noted that economists have paid relatively little attention to the nature of markets and how they work. Markets can be defined broadly in terms of any form of exchange or trade, or narrowly in the everyday sense of an organized zone of exchange involving recurrent trade with multiple buyers and multiple sellers. Arguments are made for the narrow definition. While trade generally has existed for tens of thousands of years, the earliest evidence of a market is in China in 3000 BC. There is evidence of multiple markets in Athens and the Middle East around 600 BC. Hence markets, while associated with capitalism, emerged much earlier than capitalism as such. It is shown that social scientists are now paying more attention to the institutional structure of markets in modern capitalism, although the concept is still abused by loose usage. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the ambiguity of the term “commodity.”

Keywords:   commodities, exchange, trade, markets, earliest markets, relational exchange

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