Social Studies of the Economy became an independent research area within CISR only in the late 1990’s. In the most general form, the focus of research in this field might be defined as the study of social mechanisms’ role and particularities in processes which are considered fundamentally economic.
The longest-standing research topics in this focus area relate to the study of the diverse manifestations of the informal economy: informal regulators of economic activities, informal mechanisms of economic conduct, and operational differences in informal economic institutions. The study of the informal economy essentially lays a basis for this research direction’s formation. Other established fields of research include studies of labor relations, formation of a new social partnership system in Russia, and in part, the role of trade unions as institutional mediators in regulating the relation between hired workers, employers and the government. It follows to note that this field of research is not limited to the above-listed subjects, and includes the most diverse aspects and types of economic conduct. The research we have conducted is based primarily on the micro-approach using qualitative methods. Attention to the micro-level, to real practices, and consideration of economic reality from the perspective of the very participants in economic processes and interactions is what differentiates our research from most Russian sociological studies of the economy. Usage of the micro-approach, however, does not exclude subsequent departures from the frames of microanalysis on the level of institutional generalization.