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.
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 RethinkingEconomics.
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
Supporting the creation of a new generation of Citizen Economists
is now a key aim of RethinkingEconomics 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
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 RethinkingEconomics. 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
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’, RethinkingEconomics blog, 14 December 2014. Available at:
. 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
RethinkingEconomics, 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
Bernstein, M. (2003). RethinkingEconomics 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