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Edited by John B. Davis, Alain Marciano and Jochen Runde
Chapter 8: Ideology: An Economic Point of View
Alain Leroux Introduction Unlike their colleagues in sociology and philosophy, economists seldom address the question of ideology. This is an enigma for those who regard economics not only as a social science – probably the best elaborated of all – but also as a social philosophy. So why are questions of ideology ignored in economics, even though they can be considered to be a central part to social science and social philosophy more generally? Economists not only have published little on the subject of ideology over the last half-century, but what has been published has also shown an astonishing lack of depth. It is true that the notion of ideology (or the concept – when pushed far enough) is partially linked to the unconscious, but this by itself does not mean that discussions of ideology are purely polemical or a simple exchange of unquestionable opinions. Yet economists who have engaged with this subject – even some of the best reputed – have not always been able to avoid falling into such a trap. In breaking from the trivial treatment of ideology within economics, we shall attempt to develop an entirely conceptual approach of it. Thus, in this chapter, we are not trying to compose an anthology of the afﬁrmations on ideology made by economists over the last ﬁfty years. We rather propose a critical analysis with the aim of placing in perspective the two major kinds of negligence or lack of care made by economists when discussing this subject. The reasoning will proceed in...
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