Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Charlie Dannreuther and Oliver Kessler Introduction Let us assume that social economics is mainly about real people. These people love and hate, laugh and cry, daydream and dysfunction. Of course a few of them do manage to act like modern men of reason and make egoistic self-maximizing decisions or follow the paths laid before them by institutional procedures, norms and careers. But most of them are more rounded individuals whose behaviour is better explained by approaches that treat individuals as homo sapiens and so are genuinely meta-disciplinary (i.e. that goes beyond disciplinary deﬁned theory). As such an approach, social economics therefore tries to explain the relationship between economics and lived experiences. It is this ontology of life that diﬀerentiates social economics from other approaches in economics and social science. This chapter argues that if social economics seeks to provide a diﬀerent way of representing economic activity, then it needs to problematize and engage with the notion of the state. Many views of the state start from an a priori given distinction of public and private spheres through which the state is deﬁned in terms of a person or a subject with wants, needs, interests and an ‘objective function’. However, if social economics is about the relationship between people engaged with economic activity ﬁrst and then the state, such a framework is of limited use. If social economics wants to capture fully the role of the state in economic practices, it needs to leave the conﬁnes...
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