Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Abraham Ninan
Chapter 9: Analysing Policy Values in a Knowledge Economy
Phil Graham It has been noted more than once that capitalist social relations have led to a purely monetary understanding of the term ‘value’. Classical political economy, regardless of its many flawed assumptions, sought to achieve an understanding of human interaction that embraced the entirety of human experience. In its original form, political economy emerged from the more general field of moral philosophy. However, since the mid-nineteenth century, political economy has withered in its scope while enjoying an ever-broader sphere of influence. Because it is a collection of quantitative terms, the price system has thrived under post-Enlightenment science. It has become the single most important public expression of value. In mainstream economics, price has become the primary measure of value for policymakers (Graham 2002). The gradual withering of political economy to ‘economics’, a science of pure price, has had far-reaching implications for the production and analysis of policy. The monetary reductionism of economics has been further exacerbated by the allegedly ‘neoliberal’ policy agenda that has been in play throughout developed countries since the late 1970s. Ignoring the various meanings of what might be understood by the ‘liberal’ part of neoliberalism, the basic tenets of neoliberal economic theory are as follows. First, competition for resources, market share, more skilled or cheaper labour and so on is assumed to be beneficial regardless of its consequences. Second, such competition is assumed to be global, natural and inherently efficient, producing the best outcomes for individuals and societies. Third, any interference to competition is tantamount...
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