Today, in many countries what is viewed as ‘credible’ economic knowledge stems from academic economics. The discipline of academic economics is based in universities across the world that employ economists who produce research that is published in academic journals and educate students who then go into government, businesses, and think tanks. Through the book’s authors’ and contributors’ experiences of economics education, and as part of the international student movement Rethinking Economics, it argues that academic economics in its current state does not provide people with the knowledge that we need to build thriving economies that allows everyone to flourish wherever they are from in the world, and whatever their racialised identity, gender or socioeconomic background. The consequences of this inadequate education links to modern economies being a root cause of systemic racism and sexism, socioeconomic inequality, and the ecological crisis. When economies are rooted in a set of principles that values whiteness, maleness and wealth, we should not be surprised by the inequalities that show up. Structural inequalities need systemic change, change that infiltrates through every level of the system, otherwise we risk reproducing and deepening them. This book makes the case that in order to reclaim economics it is necessary to diversify, decolonise and democratise how economics is taught and practised, and by whom. It calls on everyone to do what we can to reclaim economics for racial justice, gender equality and future generations.
One hundred years ago the idea of ‘the economy’ didn’t exist. Now, improving ‘the economy’ has come to be seen as one of the most important tasks facing modern societies. Politics and policymaking are increasingly conducted in the language of economics and economic logic increasingly frames how political problems are defined and addressed. The result is that crucial societal functions are outsourced to economic experts. The econocracy is about how this particular way of thinking about economies and economics has come to dominate many modern societies and its damaging consequences. We have put experts in charge but those experts are not fit for purpose. A growing movement is arguing that we should redefine the relationship between society and economics. Across the world, students, the economists of the future, are rebelling against their education. From three members of this movement comes a book that tries to open up the black box of economic decision making to public scrutiny. We show how a particular form of economics has come to dominate in universities across the UK and has thus shaped our understanding of the economy. We document the weaknesses of this form of economics and how it has failed to address many important issues such as financial stability, environmental sustainability and inequality; and we set out a vision for how we can bring economic discussion and decision making back into the public sphere to ensure the societies of the future can flourish.
advance science and civilization.
William Beveridge, 19242
These quotes from two of Britain’s most famous economists set out
an approach to education that contrasts radically with economicseducation today. It is an approach called ‘liberal education’ and in
this chapter we argue that it provides a set of principles that can be
used to reform economics degrees. In this section we introduce the
idea of liberal education and in the next we explore the history and
state of the English higher education (HE) system since 1945 and
show how far liberal principles have been
Ariane Agunsoye, Michelle Groenewald, Danielle Guizzo, and Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt
We end the chapter by exploring how the three Ds can
be embedded into economicseducation so that the next generation of
economists will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and values
needed to truly transform the discipline and our global economy.
This focus reflects our interest in educational reform and our
belief that educating
Economicseducation for everyone
Reclaiming economics as
everyday practice rests upon a principle of economicseducation for
everyone extending across school, university, adult education,
public service broadcasting and local media.
This requires accessible public education
opportunities that could take the form of organised workshops
economics expert and, by extension, what gives them this authority?
As in all professions, the answer is formal education, training
and – most importantly – qualifications, which are the concrete proof
of their holder’s expertise. The content of economicseducation is
revealing because it reflects the dominant view within the academic
discipline of the knowledge and skills economists must have and
what the role of an economist should be. It was this insight that
inspired Paul Samuelson, one of the most influential economists of
the twentieth century, to declare: ‘I don
had swapped sides. Now, when discussion turns to the political issues of the day and someone launches
into their opinion, often they finish by looking over at us, as if to
say, ‘Does that all make sense, you know, economically speaking?’
Sometimes, it’s even more explicit – ‘You’re an economist, what do
you think?’ As economics students we have somehow ended up with
a strange authority to judge the merits of political arguments.
These situations leave us feeling uncomfortable. Having graduated
now we are all keenly aware that our economicseducation has not
perhaps best summarised the situation when he said that his education ‘allowed one
to be critical’. Neoclassical economics may have been dominant, but
dissenting ideas still had their part to play.
In contrast, economicseducation today does not expose students
to alternative perspectives and does not allow them to be critical.
100 The econocracy
The main reason for this shift is that non-neoclassical economists
have been systematically excluded from economics departments
across the UK. The result is that departments are neither willing nor
able to teach alternative
for reforms to university economicseducation.
That is because academic economics today is not fit for
purpose. This book explores what has gone wrong with economics and how
it can be reclaimed so that it becomes a force for good in the
Reclaiming economics is no easy task. The problems we
highlight have long histories and are deeply embedded. The majority of
Beyond neoclassical economics
Economics as a contested discipline
pluralism n. a condition or system in which two or more states, groups,
principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist.1
Economicseducation shapes how its students think about the world.
This makes economics powerful, as those who study it often go on
to have significant authority. Economics is presented as a unified
field and its association with maths and statistics makes it easy to
see it as a science. However, this is not the reality. In this chapter we
argue that there is a