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The perils of leaving economics to the experts

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.

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Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

elephant in the room was hard to ignore. This was in early 2013. Little did we know it but other students were starting similar campaigns across the world and in time we linked up with them in a network called Rethinking Economics. Amazingly, what united us across different continents and languages was the shared feeling that there was a deep malaise at the heart of economics and that as a result we were being sold short as students and as citizens. While we were supposed to be on the road to becoming economists, we could also see economics with the eyes of outsiders. We

in The econocracy
Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

to take. Supporting the creation of a new generation of Citizen Economists is now a key aim of Rethinking Economics and we are developing a range of practical projects to democratise economics. We have developed schools workshops for 11–18 year olds, which introduce students to critical, pluralist economics in a fun and accessible manner. In the workshops we ask students to draw an economist: they invariably draw white men, some wearing top hats, others reading the Financial Times. One had a monocle and another was even standing on top of the world. These

in The econocracy
Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

semester in January 2013. Early on we made contact with students from a few different universities in the UK who were setting up a group called Rethinking Economics. This aimed to provide an international network to connect students and citizens who wanted to open up and reinvigorate economics. We used Facebook and Skype to communicate and while all of us dislike the crackle of a slow Skype connection, we recognise that the international student movement to reform economics could not exist without it. We are very much a movement of our time and could not have existed in

in The econocracy
Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

reform in economics education in the last few years. Haldane, ‘The revolution in economics’, 3–6; Martin Wolf, The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis, London: Penguin, 2014; Adair Turner, ‘Preface’, in Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism, CSEP Survey of Economics Students, 2. 18 For more details see Sara Gorgoni, ‘University of Greenwich revises its economics programmes to enhance pluralism and real world economics’, Rethinking Economics blog, 14 December 2014. Available at: http

in The econocracy
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Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

. If there is a crisis in economics, it means that there is also a crisis in society. This book and its authors are part of a movement that is attempting to challenge the status quo. Growing numbers of economics students are setting up and joining student societies with names like Rethinking Economics, Post-Crash Economics and the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism. There are now 14 such groups at universities across the UK and they are part of a global movement to reform economics education. We believe that the status quo must be challenged if we are to build

in The econocracy
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Public good or finishing school?
Robert Chernomas, Ian Hudson, and Mark Hudson

. Bernstein, M. (2003). Rethinking Economics in Twentieth Century America. In E. Fullbrook (ed.), The Crisis in Economics (pp. 154–159). New York: Routledge. Biddle, B. (1997). Foolishness, Dangerous Nonsense, and Real Correlates of State Differences in Achievement. Phi Delta Kappan , 79(1), 8–13. Biddle, B., & Berliner, D. (2002). A Research Synthesis / Unequal School Funding in the United States. Educational Leadership , 59(8), 48–59. Bloom, H., & Unterman, R. (2012). Sustained Positive

in Neoliberal lives