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The Meaning of Economic Democracy: Institutional Logics, Parabiosis, and the Construction of Frames

How Institutions Matter!

ISBN: 978-1-78635-430-3, eISBN: 978-1-78635-429-7

Publication date: 15 December 2016


Recent empirical and theoretical developments related to the microprocesses of institutional logics have helped to cultivate a powerful theory of agency. We build on these developments to show how the institutional logics perspective can shed light on important questions related to frame construction and how institutions matter. In particular, we show how the emergence of an economic democracy frame in post-war Sweden generated different efforts to define that frame with concrete ideas and practices linked to different logics – socialism and neoliberalism. We show how socialists tried to define economic democracy as requiring a radical transformation in the nature of ownership and control embedded in the innovative financial practice of wage earner’s funds. In contradistinction, conservatives drew on neoliberal ideas and extant mutual fund practices to construct alternative meanings and practices related to economic democracy that enrolled citizens in Capitalism without challenging extant Capitalist ownership structures. While mutual funds and wage earner’s funds initially existed in a state of parabiosis – existing side by side without much interrelationship – struggles over the meaning of economic democracy led these practices to become competing solutions in a framing contest. Implications for the study of institutional logics, frames and the social organization of society are discussed.




We would like to thank Joel Gehman for his editorial guidance, and appreciate the comments and suggestions made by Fabrizio Ferraro, Shipeng Yan, the organization group at Uppsala University and Emery Roe.


Jonsson, S. and Lounsbury, M. (2016), "The Meaning of Economic Democracy: Institutional Logics, Parabiosis, and the Construction of Frames", How Institutions Matter! (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 48A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 71-99.



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