"It is an excellent thing that publications are made freely available", says social theorist Jukka Gronow

The first book published by Helsinki University Press, Jukka Gronow’s Deciphering Markets and Money has been released and is available for free on the Press’s website. In this interview, Gronow shares his views on his book and open-access publishing.

Jukka Gronow, professor emeritus of Uppsala University, has a long history of studying economic sociology. During the past two decades, shifts in economic policy, banking crises, and economic cycles have further increased the need to analyse consumption and market forces outside economics. Gronow’s recent study Deciphering Markets and Money: A Sociological Analysis of Economic Institutions responds to this need. In his book, Gronow discusses both art and cultural markets as well as the continuously growing financial markets. Gronow analyses how the social preconditions of the formation of these markets affect their functioning.

"One of the underlying themes of the book is the problematic relationship between sociology and economics. I aim to show how, due to the multidimensionality and principal quality uncertainty of products, markets would collapse without market devices that are based on, for example, aesthetic judgements or judgements of taste. They render goods and services mutually comparable and commensurate. For their part, these market devices are founded on the three social formations of taste: cultural fields, social worlds, and fashion."

When considering a publsiher for his monograph, Gronow regarded Helsinki University Press (HUP) as an opportunity.

"I was interested in HUP as a new publisher, who operates as a fully open-access publishing house. Making publications freely available to all is an excellent thing."

Nevertheless, the researcher also sees challenges in open-access publishing that should be solved at an international level.

"For example, practices related to the funding of publications, author fees, and the reviewing of publications are inconsistent and sporadic. In an ideal situation, an international organisation representing universities would draw up rules pertaining to publishing activities."

Universities and some research funding institutions demand open-access publication, however; publishing in open access does not necessarily benefit researchers in their tenure track. As a professor emeritus, Gronow knows that he is in a fortunate position, since building a career is no longer important to him.

"The problems related to meritation are also linked with the ongoing transitional period during which various and mutually contradictory assessment criteria may be used. It is to be expected that the oncoming avalanche of digital publications will necessitate the use of some kinds of general judgements of taste without which ‘consumers’ will easily get swallowed up by the mass. These kinds of market devices are, in fact, discussed in my book."


Jukka Gronow is professor emeritus of sociology at Uppsala University, Sweden, and docent at the University of Helsinki. He has published on sociology of consumption, history of sociology, and social theory.

This story is part of a series introducing Helsinki University Press's new publications and presenting HUP's authors as well as their views on open-access publishing.


Translation: Language Services, University of Helsinki.