In chapter 2, data were presented to demonstrate that the interviewees do indeed believe in markets as indicated by their answers to questions about privatisation, income taxation and policies to deal with unemployment. In this chapter the subjective meaning for interviewees of this belief in markets is explored.2 Understanding the subjective meaning of markets is critical for a grasp of what a belief in markets means to these individuals. The concepts of ‘markets’ and ‘financial markets’ are examined in sections 2 and 3 respectively. Sociologists have paid little attention to markets, other than labour markets, and consequently most of the conceptual discussion below refers to the writings of non-sociologists. Among sociologists only Weber has made any real contribution to our understanding of markets. Section 4 deals with a crucial feature of the work carried out by participants in financial markets, namely, how they go about assessing likely movements in the markets. Finally, our grasp of the subjective meaning of markets to (professional) participants can be strengthened by an analysis of the goals of participants and accordingly section 5 is devoted to this matter.
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