The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Marketplaces

  • Winifred B. Rothenberg
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_1136

Abstract

‘Marketplace’ was defined by the great 18th century jurist, William Blackstone, as ‘a spot of ground set apart by custom for the sale of particular goods.’ The definition is striking in its simplicity, but the simplicity is deceptive, for each word should give us pause. If a marketplace is a ‘spot’ it is both bounded and of little consequence. Having said it was a ‘spot’, ‘of ground’ would seem to be redundant were it not that this, the market as a place located in space is the feature that over time will change the most. ‘Set apart’ underscores the irreconcilability of Commerce and Community, and, by implication, bestows upon Community the greater authenticity. ‘Sale’–legally to divest a seller – presupposes a body of legal rules protecting title and the alienability of title, at least to ‘particular goods’. And ‘particular goods’, in turn, implies the inalienability of title to other goods. Finally, there is ‘custom’. In Blackstone’s syntax, custom’s role appears limited to the setting of the spot. But when Commerce threatens to overwhelm the barriers that Community has erected against it, it will be custom that writes the regulations into law. ‘Marketplace’ is not at all ‘simple,’ and reckoning with it in one or another of the protean forms it has assumed over the millennia deserves to engage, as indeed it has, the attention of archaeologists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and economists.

Keywords

Black Death Blackstone, W. Braudel, F. Domar, E. Durkheim, E. Law of one price Market institutions Marketplaces Marshall, A. Non-market economies Peasant economy Peasants Regulation of markets Repeated games Silk Road Social networks 

JEL Classifications

R11 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winifred B. Rothenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.