Harmful hierarchies
in Reclaiming economics for future generations
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This chapter takes a historical view of economics as an academic discipline and identifies deep and ingrained hierarchies in how it is structured. One approach, often called neoclassical economics, has become dominant in universities across the world, and prescribes the use of certain theories, methods, assumptions and values. Alternative approaches that reject the foundations of neoclassical economics are often deemed as bad economics, or different subjects entirely by the mainstream of the discipline. Many neoclassical economists believe that they can be objective observers of the world and therefore that their identity does not matter. The book argues that there is substantial evidence that the identity of economists will shape the knowledge of academic economics, which will in turn lead research, theory, and teaching in certain directions and not others. The US sits at the top of a global hierarchy of academic economics, with the UK/Western Europe following behind and large parts of the rest of the world not recognised at all. Economists based outside of the US and Europe are often marginalised, struggling to be recognised and to participate meaningfully in the discipline. These deep hierarchies in economics, which drive a systematic lack of focus in economic research on gender, racialised identity and countries outside of the US and Europe, are not the result of scientific progress. Economics developed in societies that were built on White, male, European supremacy, and the status quo today has emerged from that.

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