San Juan de Dios Market in Guadalajara, Jalisco
GDP PPP Per Capita IMF 2008.svg
General categories
Microeconomics · Macroeconomics
History of economic thought
Methodology · Mainstream & heterodox
Technical methods
Mathematical economics
Game theory  · Optimization
Computational · Econometrics
Experimental · National accounting
Fields and subfields

Behavioral · Cultural · Evolutionary
Growth · Development · History
International · Economic systems
Monetary and Financial economics
Public and Welfare economics
Health · Education · Welfare
Population · Labour · Managerial
Business · Information
Industrial organization · Law
Agricultural · Natural resource
Environmental · Ecological
Urban · Rural · Regional · Geography


Journals · Publications
Categories · Topics · Economists

Business and Economics Portal
This box: view · talk · edit

A market is any one of a variety of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services (including labor) in exchange for money from buyers. It can be said that a market is the process in which the prices of goods and services are established.

For a market to be competitive, there must be more than a single buyer or seller. It has been suggested that two people may trade, but it takes at least three persons to have a market, so that there is competition on at least one of its two sides.[1] However, competitive markets rely on much larger numbers of both buyers and sellers. A market with single seller and multiple buyers is a monopoly. A market with a single buyer and multiple sellers is a monopsony. These are the extremes of imperfect competition.

Markets vary in form, scale (volume and geographic reach), location, and types of participants, as well as the types of goods and services traded. Examples include:

  • Physical retail markets, such as local farmers' markets (which are usually held in town squares or parking lots on an ongoing or occasional basis), shopping centers and shopping malls
  • (Non-physical) internet markets (see electronic commerce)
  • Ad hoc auction markets
  • Markets for intermediate goods used in production of other goods and services
  • Labor markets
  • International currency and commodity markets
  • Stock markets, for the exchange of shares in corporations
  • Artificial markets created by regulation to exchange rights for derivatives that have been designed to ameliorate externalities, such as pollution permits (see carbon trading)
  • Illegal markets such as the market for illicit drugs, arms or pirated products

In mainstream economics, the concept of a market is any structure that allows buyers and sellers to exchange any type of goods, services and information. The exchange of goods or services for money is a transaction. Market participants consist of all the buyers and sellers of a good who influence its price. This influence is a major study of economics and has given rise to several theories and models concerning the basic market forces of supply and demand. There are two roles in markets, buyers and sellers. The market facilitates trade and enables the distribution and allocation of resources in a society. Markets allow any tradable item to be evaluated and priced. A market emerges more or less spontaneously or is constructed deliberately by human interaction in order to enable the exchange of rights (cf. ownership) of services and goods.

Historically, markets originated in physical marketplaces which would often develop into — or from — small communities, towns and cities.[citation needed]


Types of markets

Although many markets exist in the traditional sense — such as a marketplace — there are various other types of markets and various organizational structures to assist their functions. The nature of business transactions could define markets.

Corn Exchange in London circa 1809

Financial markets

Financial markets facilitate the exchange of liquid assets. Most investors prefer investing in two markets, the stock markets and the bond markets. NYSE, AMEX, and the NASDAQ are the most common stock markets in the US. Futures markets, where contracts are exchanged regarding the future delivery of goods are often an outgrowth of general commodity markets.

Currency markets are used to trade one currency for another, and are often used for speculation on currency exchange rates.

The money market is the name for the global market for lending and borrowing.

Prediction markets

Prediction markets are a type of speculative market in which the goods exchanged are futures on the occurrence of certain events. They apply the market dynamics to facilitate information aggregation.

Organization of markets

A market can be organized as an auction, as a private electronic market, as a commodity wholesale market, as a shopping center, as a complex institution such as a stock market, and as an informal discussion between two individuals.

Markets of varying types can spontaneously arise whenever a party has interest in a good or service that some other party can provide. Hence there can be a market for cigarettes in correctional facilities, another for chewing gum in a playground, and yet another for contracts for the future delivery of a commodity. There can be black markets, where a good is exchanged illegally and virtual markets, such as eBay, in which buyers and sellers do not physically interact during negotiation. There can also be markets for goods under a command economy despite pressure to repress them.

Mechanisms of markets

In economics, a market that runs under laissez-faire policies is a free market. It is "free" in the sense that the government makes no attempt to intervene through taxes, subsidies, minimum wages, price ceilings, etc. Market prices may be distorted by a seller or sellers with monopoly power, or a buyer with monopsony power. Such price distortions can have an adverse effect on market participant's welfare and reduce the efficiency of market outcomes. Also, the relative level of organization and negotiating power of buyers and sellers markedly affects the functioning of the market. Markets where price negotiations meet equilibrium though still do not arrive at desired outcomes for both sides are said to experience market failure.

Markets are a system, and systems have structure. System works fine when the structure of a system is in good condition. Structure of a (utopistically) well-functioning markets is defined in theory of perfect competition. Well-functioning markets of a real world are never perfect, but basic structural characteristics can be approximated for real world markets, for example

  • many small buyers and sellers
  • buyers and sellers have equal access to information
  • products are comparable

Buying and selling in well-structured markets creates a price that satisfies both buyers and sellers, not buying and selling alone as the free market proponents tells us. For example, trade unions are sometimes accused of spoiling the market mechanims of a labour markets, in reality it is the opposite: blue collar trade unions make the buyer and seller more equally powerful when they negotiate the price for a working hour. When the buyer and seller are equally powerful, then the price for a commodity is acceptable to both parties.

Study of markets

Cabbage market by Vaclav Maly
A market in Râmnicu Vâlcea by Amedeo Preziosi

The study of actual existing markets made up of persons interacting in space and place in diverse ways is widely seen as an antidote to abstract and all-encompassing concepts of “the market” and has historical precedent in the works of Fernand Braudel and Karl Polanyi. The latter term is now generally used in two ways. First, to denote the abstract mechanisms whereby supply and demand confront each other and deals are made. In its place, reference to markets reflects ordinary experience and the places, processes and institutions in which exchanges occurs.[2] Second, the market is often used to signify an integrated, all-encompassing and cohesive capitalist world economy. A widespread trend in economic history and sociology is skeptical of the idea that it is possible to develop a theory to capture an essence or unifying thread to markets.[3] For economic geographers, reference to regional, local, or commodity specific markets can serve to undermine assumptions of global integration, and highlight geographic variations in the structures, institutions, histories, path dependencies, forms of interaction and modes of self-understanding of agents in different spheres of market exchange.[4] Reference to actual markets can show capitalism not as a totalizing force or completely encompassing mode of economic activity, but rather as "a set of economic practices scattered over a landscape, rather than a systemic concentration of power".[5]

An Afghan market teeming with vendors and shoppers

C. B. Macpherson identifies an underlying model of the market underlying Anglo-American liberal-democratic political economy and philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: Persons are cast as self-interested individuals, who enter into contractual relations with other such individuals, concerning the exchange of goods or personal capacities cast as commodities, with the motive of maximizing pecuniary interest. The state and its governance systems are cast as outside of this framework.[6] This model came to dominant economic thinking in the later nineteenth century, as economists such as Ricardo, Mill, Jevons, Walras and later neo-classical economics shifted from reference to geographically located marketplaces to an abstract "market".[7] This tradition is continued in contemporary neoliberalism, where the market is held up as optimal for wealth creation and human freedom, and the states’ role imagined as minimal, reduced to that of upholding and keeping stable property rights, contract, and money supply. This allowed for boilerplate economic and institutional restructuring under structural adjustment and post-Communist reconstruction.[8]

Wetherby town’s market.

Similar formalism occurs in a wide variety of social democratic and Marxist discourses that situate political action as antagonistic to the market. In particular, commodification theorists such as Georg Lukács insist that market relations necessarily lead to undue exploitation of labour and so need to be opposed in toto.[9] Pierre Bourdieu has suggested the market model is becoming self-realizing, in virtue of its wide acceptance in national and international institutions through the 1990s.[10] The formalist conception faces a number of insuperable difficulties, concerning the putatively global scope of the market to cover the entire Earth, in terms of penetration of particular economies, and in terms of whether particular claims about the subjects (individuals with pecuniary interest), objects (commodities), and modes of exchange (transactions) apply to any actually existing markets.

Gómez Palacio city's municipal market

A central theme of empirical analyses is the variation and proliferation of types of markets since the rise of capitalism and global scale economies. The Regulation School stresses the ways in which developed capitalist countries have implemented varying degrees and types of environmental, economic, and social regulation, taxation and public spending, fiscal policy and government provisioning of goods, all of which have transformed markets in uneven and geographical varied ways and created a variety of mixed economies. Drawing on concepts of institutional variance and path dependency, varieties of capitalism theorists (such as Hall and Soskice) identify two dominant modes of economic ordering in the developed capitalist countries, "coordinated market economies" such as Germany and Japan, and an Anglo-American "liberal market economies". However, such approaches imply that the Anglo-American liberal market economies in fact operate in a matter close to the abstract notion of "the market". While Anglo-American countries have seen increasing introduction of neo-liberal forms of economic ordering, this has not lead to simple convergence, but rather a variety of hybrid institutional orderings.[11] Rather, a variety of new markets have emerged, such as for carbon trading or rights to pollute. In some cases, such as emerging markets for water, different forms of privatization of different aspects of previously state run infrastructure have created hybrid private-public formations and graded degrees of commodification, commercialization, and privatization.[12]

Problematic for market formalism is the relationship between formal capitalist economic processes and a variety of alternative forms, ranging from semi-feudal and peasant economies widely operative in many developing economies, to informal markets, barter systems, worker cooperatives, or illegal trades that occur in most developed countries. Practices of incorporation of non-Western peoples into global markets in the nineteenth and twentieth century did not merely result in the quashing of former social economic institutions. Rather, various modes of articulation arose between transformed and hybridized local traditions and social practices and the emergence world economy. So called capitalist markets in fact include and depend on a wide range of geographically situated economic practices that do not follow the market model. Economies are thus hybrids of market and non-market elements.[13]

Helpful here is J. K. Gibson-Graham’s complex topology of the diversity of contemporary market economies describing different types of transactions, labour, and economic agents. Transactions can occur in underground markets (such as for marijuana) or be artificially protected (such as for patents). They can cover the sale of public goods under privatization schemes to co-operative exchanges and occur under varying degrees of monopoly power and state regulation. Likewise, there are a wide variety of economic agents, which engage in different types of transactions on different terms: One cannot assume the practices of a religious kindergarten, multinational corporation, state enterprise, or community-based cooperative can be subsumed under the same logic of calculability (pp. 53–78). This emphasis on proliferation can also be contrasted with continuing scholarly attempts to show underlying cohesive and structural similarities to different markets.[14]

A prominent entry point for challenging the market model's applicability concerns exchange transactions and the homo economicus assumption of self-interest maximization. There are now a number of streams of economic sociological analysis of markets focusing on the role of the social in transactions, and the ways transactions involve social networks and relations of trust, cooperation and other bonds.[14] Economic geographers in turn draw attention to the ways in exchange transactions occur against the backdrop of institutional, social and geographic processes, including class relations, uneven development, and historically contingent path dependencies.[15] A useful schema is provided by Michel Callon's concept of framing: Each economic act or transaction occurs against, incorporates and also re-performs a geographically and cultural specific complex of social histories, institutional arrangements, rules and connections. These network relations are simultaneously bracketed, so that persons and transactions may be disentangled from thick social bonds. The character of calculability is imposed upon agents as they come to work in markets and are "formatted" as calculative agencies. Market exchanges contain a history of struggle and contestation that produced actors predisposed to exchange under c An emerging theme worthy of further study is the interrelationship, interpenetrability and variations of concepts of persons, commodities, and modes of exchange under particular market formations. This is most pronounced in recent movement towards post-structuralist theorizing that draws on Foucault and Actor Network Theory and stress relational aspects of personhood, and dependence and integration into networks and practical systems. Commodity network approaches further both deconstruct and show alternatives to the market models concept of commodities. Here, both researchers and market actors are understood as reframing commodities in terms of processes and social and ecological relationships. Rather than a mere objectification of things traded, the complex network relationships of exchange in different markets calls on agents to alternatively deconstruct or “get with” the fetish of commodities.[16] Gibson-Graham thus read a variety of alternative markets, for fair trade and organic foods, or those using Local Exchange Trading Systems as not only contributing to proliferation, but also forging new modes of ethical exchange and economic subjectivities.

Most markets are regulated by state wide laws and regulations. While barter markets exist, most markets use currency or some other form of money.Any investments made in markets should be carefully analyzed and read through before investing if the market crashes value of stock may go down leading to heavy losses

Size parameters

Market size can be given in terms of the number of buyers and sellers in a particular market[17] or in terms of the total exchange of money in the market, generally annually (per year). When given in terms of money, market size is often termed market value, but in a distinguished sense than the market value of individual products. For one and the same goods, there may be different (and generally increasing) market values at the production level, the wholesale level and the retail level. For example, the value of the global illicit drug market for the year 2003 was estimated by the United Nations to be US$13 billion at the production level, $94 billion at the wholesale level (taking seizures into account), and US$322 billion at the retail level (based on retail prices and taking seizures and other losses into account).[18]

See also


  1. ^ Sullivan, arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 28. ISBN 0-13-063085-3. 
  2. ^ Callon, M. (1998) "Introduction: The Embeddedness of Economic Markets in Economics." In The Laws of the Markets, edited by Michel Callon. Basic Blackwell/The Sociological Review pp 1-57 1998, p.2).
  3. ^ Swedberg, Richard (1994) “Markets as Social Structures” The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Ed. Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg. Princeton University Press. 255-2821994, p. 258)
  4. ^ Peck, J. (2005) “Economic Geographies in Space” Economic Geography 81(2) 129-175.
  5. ^ (Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2006) Postcapitalist Politics. University of Minnesota Press,. p.2).
  6. ^ (MacPherson, C.B. (1962) The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: From Hobbes to Locke. Oxford Clarendon Press. p.3
  7. ^ (Swedberg, 1994, p. 258
  8. ^ Harvey, David (2005) A Short History of Neoliberalism Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ Lukács, Georg. (1971) History and Class Consciousness. Trans. Rodney Livingstone. Merlin Press. London.p. 87
  10. ^ Bourdieu, Pierre (1999) Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market. The New Press.p. 95
  11. ^ Peck, supra, p. 154)
  12. ^ Bakker, Karen (2005) “Neoliberalizing Nature?: Market Environmentalism in water supply in England and Wales” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95 (3), 542-565
  13. ^ (Mitchell, Timothy (2002) Rule of Experts. University of California Pressp. 270; Gibson-Graham 2006, supra pp. 53-78)
  14. ^ a b Swedberg, 1994, p. 267
  15. ^ Martin, Ron (2000) “Institutional Approaches in Economic Geography” Handbook of Economic Geography. Ed. Eric Sheppard and Trevor J. Barnes. Blackwell Publishers.Peck, 2005
  16. ^ Hughes, Alex (2005) “Geographies of Exchange and Circulation: alternative trading spaces” Progress in Human Geography
  17. ^ > market size Retrieved on April 17, 2010
  18. ^ United Nations, “2005 World Drug Report,” Office on Drugs and Crime, June 2005, pg. 16. [1]


  • Bakker, Karen (2005) “Neoliberalizing Nature?: Market Environmentalism in water supply in England and Wales” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95 (3), 542-565.
  • Bourdieu, Pierre (1999) Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market. The New Press.
  • Callon, Michel (1998) "Introduction: The Embeddedness of Economic Markets in Economics." In The Laws of the Markets, edited by Michel Callon. Basic Blackwell/The Sociological Review pp 1–57
  • Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2006) Postcapitalist Politics. University of Minnesota Press,.
  • Harvey, David (2005) A Short History of Neoliberalism Oxford University Press.
  • Hughes, Alex (2005) “Geographies of Exchange and Circulation: alternative trading spaces” Progress in Human Geography
  • Lukács, Georg. (1971) History and Class Consciousness. Trans. Rodney Livingstone. Merlin Press. London.
  • MacPherson, C.B. (1962) The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: From Hobbes to Locke. Oxford Clarendon Press.
  • Marshall, A. (1961). Principles of Economics. C. W. Guillebaud, Ed. 2 Vol. London: Macmillan.
  • Martin, Ron (2000) “Institutional Approaches in Economic Geography” Handbook of Economic Geography. Ed. Eric Sheppard and Trevor J. Barnes. Blackwell Publishers.
  • Mitchell, Timothy (2002) Rule of Experts University of California Press.;
  • Peck, J. (2005) “Economic Geographies in Space” Economic Geography 81(2) 129-175
  • Swedberg, Richard (1994) “Markets as Social Structures” The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Ed. Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg. Princeton University Press. 255-282


  • Microeconomics by Robert S. Pindyck, Daniel L. Rubinfeld

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Market — Märket Märket Carte de l île de Märket. Géographie Pays …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Märket — Carte de l île de Märket. Géographie Pays …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Market — Mar ket, n. [Akin to D. markt, OHG. mark[=a]t, merk[=a]t, G. markt; all fr.L. mercatus trade, market place, fr. mercari, p. p. mercatus, to trade, traffic, merx, mercis, ware, merchandise, prob. akin to merere to deserve, gain, acquire: cf. F.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • market — mar·ket n 1: the rate or price at which a security or commodity is currently selling: market price 2 a: a geographical area of demand for commodities or services seeking new foreign market s b: a formal organized system en …   Law dictionary

  • Märket — Island with the unusual national border of 1985. Märket Island with t …   Wikipedia

  • Märket — mit Grenzverlauf Märket ist ein flacher Felsen, der sich auf einer Fläche von etwa drei Hektar zwischen dem schwedischen Festland und den finnischen Åland Inseln aus der Ostsee erhebt. Märket gehört zu beinahe gleichen Teilen zu Schweden und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • market — [mär′kit] n. [ME < NormFr < L mercatus, trade, marketplace, pp. of mercari, to trade < merx (gen. mercis), wares, merchandise < ? IE base * merk̑ , to seize] 1. a) a gathering of people for buying and selling things, esp. provisions… …   English World dictionary

  • Market — steht für: Market (Marktforschungsinstitut), ein Linzer Institut für Markt , Meinungs und Mediaforschung Alternative Investment Market, ein Börsensegment der Londoner Börse Camden Market, ein Markt in London Comic Market, eine Manga Messe in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Market — Mar ket, v. t. To expose for sale in a market; to traffic in; to sell in a market, and in an extended sense, to sell in any manner; as, most of the farmes have marketed their crops. [1913 Webster] Industrious merchants meet, and market there The… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • market — ► NOUN 1) a regular gathering for the purchase and sale of food, livestock, or other commodities. 2) an outdoor space or large hall where vendors sell their goods. 3) a particular area of commercial or competitive activity. 4) demand for a… …   English terms dictionary

  • Market — Mar ket, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Marketed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Marketing}.] To deal in a market; to buy or sell; to make bargains for provisions or goods. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.