Table of Contents

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Frederic S. Lee and Bruce Cronin

Despite the important critiques of the mainstream offered by heterodox economics, the dominant method remains econometrics. This major new Handbook provides an invaluable introduction to a range of alternative research methods better suited for analysing the social data prominent in heterodox research projects, including survey, historical, ethnographic, experimental, and mixed approaches, together with factor, cluster, complex, and social network analytics. Introductions to each method are complemented by descriptions of applications in practice.

Chapter 11: Critical realism, econometrics, and heterodox economics

Nuno Ornelas Martins

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought, methodology of economics, post-keynesian economics, radical and feminist economics, research methods, research methods in economics


In this chapter I address the critical realist critique of mainstream econometrics, and its implications for heterodox economics. Mainstream econometrics uses a methodology that presupposes constant conjunctions of the form ‘if event X then event Y’ and, unlike the classical economics and heterodox economics, isolates those constant conjunctions from the overall process of reproduction of socio-economic activity. The classical political economists, in contrast, were concerned with the reproduction and distribution of the surplus as a whole, and tried to describe this activity by focusing on objective and observable quantities. In so doing, the classical economists used a very different approach to measurement, following a realist method and theory, which has also been developed more recently by heterodox economists, and is consistent with the critical realist methodology too. I conclude that heterodox economists, rather than mainstream economists, are the true heirs of the social surplus approach initiated by the classical economists, who developed a perspective focused on the reproduction of socio-economic activity (as the classical authors also did), which is the central aspect to be addressed within economic and social theory according to the critical realist framework.

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