The Sense of Dissonance:

Accounts of Worth in Economic Life

Search is the watchword of the information age, but in this study of innovation David Stark examines a different kind of search – when we don’t know what we’re looking for but will recognize it when we find it. Drawing on John Dewey’s notion of collaborative inquiry, Stark uses ethnography to study the perplexing situations in which actors search for what’s valuable. His cases include machine tool makers in Hungary, new media workers in Silicon Alley, and derivatives traders on Wall Street. In coping with uncertainty, organizations benefit from the friction of competing criteria of worth. The dissonance of diverse principles can lead to discovery.

Chapter 1 | Table Of Contents




Review in the American Journal of Sociology

Review in Administrative Science Quarterly

Review in the European Economic Sociology Newsletter

Review in the Journal of Evolutionary Economics


"In this book, Stark takes the reader on a fascinating journey of discovery…The Sense of Dissonance is equally a book about how organizations really work and how we should think about the problem of organization--a great accomplishment."--Duncan Watts, author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age

"At a time when global crises have shattered standard accounts of economic life, David Stark's The Sense of Dissonance offers powerful alternative explanations of economic activity along with specific prescriptions for twenty-first-century economic survival. This book instructs and inspires."--Viviana A. Zelizer, author of The Purchase of Intimacy

"This wonderful, lively, and personal book is packed with insights for economic sociology and general sociological theory. A mature statement by a leading sociologist, it is also a delight to read."--Walter W. Powell, Stanford University

"This is an important book about an important topic--and it has a strong narrative and impressive, engaging ethnography."--Michèle Lamont, Harvard University

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