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The Economic Crisis: A new deal for the field of economics?

It is a truism that a fair number of economists failed to see the current crisis coming, a point that has found particular resonance in the writings of Paul Krugman. Notwithstanding this fact, these very same economists have offered countless conferences, declarations, and interviews in which they draw lessons from the crisis and either identify or correct the “dysfunctions” that caused it.

La Revue de la Régulation proposes a special issue that will reconsider this paradox through an attempt to understand how certain features of the discipline itself contributed to this situation, including both its internal organization (modes of production and dissemination of knowledge, rules of operation and evaluation) and its complex relationships with other disciplines such as sociology, history, political science, and mathematics. Additional factors that merit consideration include the ties between economics and the domains of politics, the media, and business, and the relationship between the crisis and recent reconfigurations of the field.

The editors invite contributions from pluridisciplinary perspectives: science studies, the sociology of knowledge and of professions, network analysis, the history of economic thought, the history of science, epistemology, etc. Contributions that develop themes from the following non-exhaustive list will receive particular attention:

  • How did the use of particular methodologies and models contribute to the relative blindness or myopia of the discipline with regard to the crisis? To what extent are these tools and their various applications – the status of empirical data, modalities of administration and proof, acknowledgement of the constraints on validity of particular models – specific to the field of economics, especially as regards the physical and biological sciences or other social sciences?

  • To what extent have changes in the teaching of economics (for example, technicization or the marginalization of economic history and thought) contributed to the current situation?

  • What is the nature of the relationship between economics as a discipline and other disciplines? To what extent are these inter-disciplinary relationships imperialistic, associative, or based on sheer mutual ignorance?

  • Does the organization of economics into essentially closed “small worlds” such as universities, laboratories, centers, and journals leave sufficient space for debate, criticism, and ultimately dialogue between different schools of thought?

  • What is the role played by the rules of evaluation and appraisal of what counts as disciplinary knowledge by researchers, journals, and laboratories? How have professional institutions evolved and changed, and what is the capacity of the discipline as a whole to innovate and to renew itself?

  • To what extent have the links between certain economists and « the business world » – via directorships, board memberships, service on governmental organizations such as the Council for Economic Analysis, or formal roles in the media – influenced the positions that they have articulated or their power within the discipline?

Deadline for contributions to this issue: April 15, 2010