Two central ideas in economic sociology are embeddedness and the social construction of economic institutions. Based on data from women’s thrift cooperatives established in villages in Andhra Pradesh, India, the paper identifies a paradox in the creation of new economic institutions. Such institutions are both constrained by and sustained by what existed before their arrival, and their survival is dependent on how they adapt to the existing social structure. Their transformative capacity is contingent on their ability to survive, but also to challenge the existing social structure. The data suggest that the thrift cooperatives have enabled some women to alter the gender relations within their households, but that the cooperatives seem to be reproducing caste structures.


Stuart, Guy. "Embedded Cooperation: Women's Thrift Cooperatives in Andhra Pradesh." KSG Faculty Research Working Papers Series RWP03-026, May 2003.