Edited by Robert W. Dimand and Harald Hagemann
Chapter 61: Joan Violet Robinson
Joan Robinson earned an international presence as a theorist from the publication of her first book in 1933. This was her debut into a lifetime of brilliant critique of neoclassical theory. Robinson demanded of any theory that to be acceptable it must be both rigorous and relevant. She rejected the neoclassical paradigm for being static; its static theory was both analytically problematic and irrelevant to explaining a process of growth. She was a founding contributor to an alternative approach to growth and distribution inspired in particular by Keynes and Kalecki, and Sraffa. Robinson was also interested in developing economies, through either capitalist or socialist means. Her outspoken support for socialist planning within democracies, to meet a commitment to full employment, during World War II and the Cold War years gave her views an awkward professional absence in US political and economists’ circles. Nevertheless, she was also passionate in her public condemnation of war and the power of aid donors to tie their aid to vested military interests.
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