United for understanding the economy: Heterodox Economics, Economic Sociology and Political Economy

A multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach is the only approach which enables a more in-depth study of any social phenomena and structures, including the economy. The Economic Sociology and Political Economy community is deeply committed to this mission, and consistently and persistently spreads the word about the necessity of this approach, particularly concerning the understanding of the economy.
In “Understanding the Global Financial Crisis: Sociology, Political Economy and Heterodox Economics” Andrew Brown and David A. Spencer (Economics Division, Leeds University Business School) present a similar argument: collective development of an understanding of the global financial crisis and ensuing austerity requires an alliance between sociology, ‘heterodox economics’ and related disciplines within the broad tradition of ‘political economy’.
Starting with classical political economy, the authors move on to consider the ‘marginalist revolution’ in economics which created the basis for the split between sociology and economics as we know it today. They argue that post-war developments revealed that mainstream economics could not keep its side of the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ (Ingham, 1996) between economics (represented by Lionel Robbins) and sociology (represented by Talcott Parsons), for a division of labour between economics and sociology based upon a typology of action.
Then Brown and Spencer introduce ‘heterodox economics’ as a body of thought that emerged in response to the failure of mainstream economics to theorise coherently the capitalist system as a whole, suggesting that heterodox economics is potentially an aid to overcoming the historical split between economics and sociology. “Heterodox economics does not just share with sociology interest in a non-reductionist and holistic method but also provides a relatively developed understanding of the capitalist economy that can help fill the gap left by existing approaches in economic sociology, as well as enhancing the very latest developments that are moving to bring together economic sociology and political economy.” (p. 951)
The article stresses that, beyond understanding the crisis, an alliance of sociology and heterodox economics can help strategically and politically in challenging and overcoming the theory, ideology and policy advice of mainstream economics. It can also help broaden ideas about how society and economy may be organised in a post-crisis future.



One comment

  1. I believe that exist a sort of social and cultural determinism in any analysis of the society
    and economy. History is in my view is an important element to to be considered in any analysis of the economic crisis of the present financial capitals. The ensemble of various disciples and methods could be a serious attempt of analysis of the economic phenomena always considering the time scale of the evolution and transformation of the social knowledge and its disciplines invented by the human intellect.

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