Essays in Honor of Lance Taylor
Edited by Amitava Krishna Dutt
Chapter 3: An essay on late structuralism
Bill Gibson* INTRODUCTION In this chapter I examine the scope and method of the structuralist school in an attempt to identify precisely how it diﬀers from the neoclassical system, in both its mode of analysis and its criteria for validity. There are four conclusions reached: ﬁrst, the work of Taylor and his followers can be seen as a coherent outgrowth of not only Latin American structuralism, as is often observed (Jameson, 1986), but also the European or early structuralism of Levi-Strauss (2000), Godelier and Piaget (Godelier, 1972), and Piaget (1971). The early work, both Latin American and European, focused on rigidities and frictions in local economies (Chenery, 1975) while in the late structuralism of Taylor and his followers, theory not only must account for the ‘macrofoundations’ of behavior, but also global foundations, that is the constraints the evolution of the global system itself imposes on the players. Third, late structuralism is often criticized as ad hoc theory because it is not grounded in optimization models (Agénor and Montiel, 1996). I argue that the ad hocery of structuralism is not an accident but a logical consequence of what it deﬁnes as its theoretical object and what it considers valid methods by which the theory is codiﬁed. The fourth and perhaps most contentious proposition of this chapter is the claim that the nature of structuralist theory naturally leads to numerical simulation modeling as its principal empirical tool. This will not be entirely surprising to some since the simulation...
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