Embracing Market Liberalism? Community Structure, Embeddedness, and Mutual Savings and Loan Conversions to Stock Corporations

Marc Schneiberg, Adam Goldstein, Matthew S. Kraatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Integrating research on communities with economic and organizational sociology, we analyze how organizations’ responses to marketization are shaped by their embeddedness in communities and the socio-associational structure of those communities. We address these relations via event-history analyses of mutual conversions to stock corporations among savings and loan associations (SLAs) in the United States, a population of depositor-owned and traditionally community-based banks that demutualized amid deregulation during the 1970s and 1980s. Consistent with accounts of social disorganization and declining social capital, SLA managers abandoned mutual for corporate enterprise as SLAs became less locally embedded, and where communities experienced disorganization and declining working- or cross-class associationalism. Yet conversions also depended on elite detachment, civic reorganization, bifurcation within communities, and “upwardly oriented” associations that helped SLA managers reorient SLAs from Main Street to Wall Street. Through this study, we look beyond networks, institutions, and categories to add communities and local associations to economic sociology’s toolkit for understanding the social foundations of firms and markets. We show how financialization coupled macro-level political-institutional dynamics of marketization with community-level dynamics of elite disconnection, class and ethno-racial fracture, and civic reorganization, while also shedding light on the contemporary fates of mutual and cooperative forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-85
Number of pages33
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Volume88
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Keywords

  • community
  • demutualization
  • financialization
  • institutional change
  • mutuals and cooperatives
  • neoliberalism

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