Recently, the analytical power of economic analysis has been questioned (Caballero 2010, Stiglitz 2011, and following discussions). Among others, an explanatory deficit has been identified in the field of market mechanisms, and the complex web of multiple retro-actions dynamically linking the economic behaviors of agents, institutions and the efficient use of the available resources. In other words, also for some prominent scholars, the traditional concept of “market” needs some adjustment, starting from the rethinking of the nature of the dimensions, structures and dynamics of real markets.

The aim of the project here presented is to produce some insights in the research of a new, more comprehensive definition of the concept of market, looking at the historical formation and restructuring of some real commodity markets, from the point of view of the quantitative and qualitative evolution of their boundaries.

The idea that the study of the factual conditions defining the level of accessibility of different markets could be used as a proxy for the understanding of their internal structure is not new (Krugman 1992), but recently it has been revived in researches focused on an enlarged, and more adequate to our times, definition of markets (Redding 2016), as well as in researches devoted to the historical reconstruction of the actual evolution of real markets over time (Jacks, Novy 2016).