New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series
The late twentieth century saw a ‘cultural turn’ in academic work, evident in critiques of positivism and in the emergence of the New Left, postmodernism and cultural studies. Orthodox economics has played no part in this and appears oblivious to wider intellectual trends: its core principles are ahistorical and bereft of culture. The cultural turn has opened up space for a broader, cultural approach to economics, yet economic orthodoxy has been reluctant to acknowledge or respond to the challenge. Few mainstream economists read academic literature beyond their own specialised field. Heterodox economics is more receptive to cultural ideas, but even here the tendency is to keep to standard disciplinary boundaries. As a result, the implications for economics of recent cultural thought have not been fully explored. An economics/culture divide is nothing new and goes back over two hundred years to the beginnings of modern economic theory. Culture as a formal concept stemmed from disquiet about how Enlightenment science had addressed society. Cultural thinkers objected to rationalism and empiricism being transferred crudely to social studies; instead, they advocated historical specificity, cultural awareness and interpretative methods. The earliest modern economists, in their wish to emulate natural sciences, provoked cultural criticism that started with literary counterblasts against classical economics in the early nineteenth century and has carried on ever since. Neglect of culture in present-day economics is merely the latest manifestation of an eternal stand-off between economics and cultural thought. The current book has two aims: 1. To trace the history of the...