What does “socioeconomic” mean?

If one conceives society as a context of socioeconomic development, the various life styles are not simply a purely passive result of an all-determining economy. After all, economic development is socially embedded: Social conditions, political regulations and institutions are not mere results or even ‘disturbing factors’ of the economy. They carry their own weight. Equally the way people manage their everyday lives and make their decisions is not just a result of ‘major’ economic developments or even political measures. Admittedly, innovations, investments and entrepreneurial strategies stimulate changes within society from the economy side, and this is certainly of key significance. However, changing ways of life can also give impulses that provoke adjustments on the part of the economic system. Both sides develop in dependence on the other, but according to a logic of their own. The individual interests and motives of the social actors are prime movers of socioeconomic development. Words like ‘economic’ or ‘social’ do not describe separate fields of scientific observation, but rather different perspectives on the same objects. Thus, gainful employment is defined twofold: It belongs to the economic sphere as well as to the way of life; moreover: not only enterprises make demands on the work force, working people too make demands on the quality and design of their work. Companies are not just producers of commodities and services, they also mark the fundamental social place, where gainful employment is organised and employees are being integrated into a social structure. At the same time, they are the central agency connecting individuals with the labour market and the systems of social security. Decisions concerning earnings, the division of labour, reproduction, education, use of information and consumer behaviour are taken in the household, i.e. outside of companies. However, this happens in response to economic circumstances, and is at the same time embedded in a process of economic calculation, and has consequences for the individual participation as well as for the economy as a whole. Finally, consumption encompasses both economic demand and the pursuit of everyday life.