Economic Representations: Academic and Everyday

Economic Representations: Academic and Everyday

Language: English

Pages: 344

ISBN: 0415780039

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Why is there such a proliferation of economic discourses in literary theory, cultural studies, anti-sweatshop debates, popular music, and other areas outside the official discipline of economics? How is the economy represented in different ways by economists and non-economists?

In this volume, scholars from a wide variety of disciplines and countries, from inside and outside the academy, explore the implications of the fact that the economy is being represented in so many different ways. They analyze what it means for scholars and activists in trying to make sense of existing representations-theories, pictures, and stories--of the economy. They also show how new representations can be produced and utilized to change how we look at and participate in current economic debates.

By encouraging the mutual recognition of existing approaches and exploring the various ways economic representations function in diverse venues within and beyond mainstream economics, Ruccio has produced a book that is relevant to subjects as diverse as economic sociology and anthropology, political economy, globalization and cultural studies.

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undergraduate to the advanced graduate level, are devoted to the topic, not to mention innumerable journal articles and monographs). The only point I want to make here is that it is a particular representation of the economy based on an understanding of all the issues I posed above. What the economy is: it is made up of individual decisions in markets. Where it exists: in a particular public domain, based on the interaction of consumers and firms. How it is constituted: it is natural, the result

textbook publishing, film distribution, and international agencies).13 11 Emmison and McHoul (1987) have analyzed the changing form of representations of the economy in political cartoons from the early nineteenth century to the 1980s. 12 There are only a few examples in which the visual representations of academic economics are analyzed in any detail. The most recent is a symposium by Robert Leonard (2003), which includes papers by Loïc Charles (2003, on François Quesnay’s Tableau Économique of

runs through popular press coverage of it – that is, a set of broader narratives used to make sense of its facets. As Amariglio and Ruccio (2004) discuss, mainstream academic economists tend to treat this everyday economic knowledge as unsystematic, unscientific, and, therefore, not actually “knowledge” at all – yet 8 See, respectively, Washington Post (6/4/2003: A17), USA Today (5/3/2004: 13a), and Time Magazine (4/26/2004: 76). 9 Amariglio and Ruccio (2004: 261–62) also consult public opinion

those who are involved in designing and participating in local currency systems, produce and disseminate theories of the economy that are often different – in both form and content – from those of the official discipline of economics. Academic economists often consider such formulations to be an “ersatz” economics, a mostly random set of irrational elocutions lacking both structure and consistency. The alternative is to recognize “everyday” economic theories and statements as having their own

Macro-scale models of craft production are intimately tied to cultural evolutionary frameworks that emphasize stages of human “progress.” Cultural evolutionary models have roots in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century liberal social theory. Writers such as Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, and Lewis Henry Morgan formulated their work during – and were influenced by – the emergence and expansion of Western industrial capitalism. It is not coincidental that the principles of capitalist

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