This website explains The Systems of Exchange typology. It helps us to understand how social relations affect economic relations. We deduce four basic types of economies and they each have their own logics.  

The Price, Associative, Moral and Communal systems are qualitatively different from each other, but real economies are mixtures.  We invite you to explore the ideas and cases in this website.



This website is an economic sociology resource for researchers, instructors, students and anyone interested in how and why people act as they do in the economy. It provides an introduction to an analytical framework for thinking about economic action from a sociological perspective: The Systems of Exchange. This framework was developed by Nicole Woolsey Biggart and Rick Delbridge in their article Systems of Exchange, which won the 2005 Academy of Management Review Best Paper Award.

The four qualitatively different ways of ordering economic exchange captured in the systems of exchange typology—Price, Associative, Moral and Communal—are based on empirical observations, rather than assumptions about how markets should work. As such, the systems of exchange typology offers an alternative way for thinking about market organization that can readily be distinguished from neoclassical economics. 

The Systems of Exchange typology assumes that individuals may be influenced by their social relations and that rationality comes in different forms. Four prototypical exchange systems result. They have different assumptions about how and why people act as they do.


We want to give people tools for thinking about the economy they live in. Nothing too simple. Nothing too complex. Just enough to start thinking how economy and society are connected in different ways.

Our Purpose