A sociological approach to market competition : the case of restaurateurs in Lille
Orthodox economists’ vision of competition is normative : since competition is at the core of the market system, it is what produces market efficiency, with the understanding that competition is an essential mechanism. In clear contradistinction to this view, a sociological approach to the market is proposed based on the coexistence of two types of competition : price competition and competition on the basis of quality. An interface model of the structure of this market is designed using empirical data on 300 restaurateurs. Network analysis instruments bring to light a process of limited solidarity operative at the high end of the restaurant market : gastronomy turns out to be a collective social and symbolic construct, and in contrast to the zone of the restaurant market operating on the basis of price competition, the « quality competition » zone exhibits subtle forms of « cooperation among competitors » wherein notions of gastronomy status and peer recognition play an essential role.