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The Elgar Companion to Social Economics

The Elgar Companion to Social Economics

Elgar original reference

Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma

As this comprehensive Companion demonstrates, social economics is a dynamic and growing field that emphasizes the key role that values play in the economy and in economic life. Social economics treats the economy and economics as being embedded in the larger web of social and ethical relationships. It also regards economics and ethics as essentially connected, and adds values such as justice, fairness, dignity, well-being, freedom and equality to the standard emphasis on efficiency. The Elgar Companion to Social Economics brings together the leading contributors in the field to elucidate a wide range of recent developments across different subject areas and topics. In so doing the contributors also map the likely trends and directions of future research. This Companion will undoubtedly become a leading reference source and guide to social economics for many years to come.

Chapter 4: The Ethical Dimensions of the ‘Globalization Thesis’ Debate

George DeMartino

Subjects: economics and finance, methodology of economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


George DeMartino 1. Introduction This chapter explores a set of controversies in political economy that emerged during the 1990s and that continues to attract immense attention today. These controversies relate to the broad and heterogeneous debate over ‘globalization’. From the start this debate was normative in a particularly high-profile way. Demonstrators against the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and related institutions emphasized what they took to be deep ethical failures of the neoliberal world order that had been maturing rapidly during the final quarter of the twentieth century. Many argued that this new global regime threatened to deepen inequality, undermine economic security, destroy cultural autonomy, exacerbate the dependence of the weak on the powerful, degrade environmental integrity and weaken democratic governance. Originating as it did among politically engaged civil society actors rather than among academics, it is hardly surprising that the critique engaged notions of justice and fairness, equality and freedom. And it is certainly the case that the power of the resistance to globalization depended very much on these normative indictments. These matters have by now been contested at length. But the debate over globalization entails other important elements. My goal in this chapter is to explore some of these. In this connection, I will pursue a set of themes that relate in one way or another to the ‘strong globalization thesis’. This is the thesis that the world economy that we inhabit today has been globalized in ways that are deeply consequential for virtually all...

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