[OPE-L] Blaug's "ugly currents in modern economics"

From: GERALD LEVY (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Feb 05 2008 - 11:06:36 EST

of economic phenomena, the fact remains that papers written in this form are easier to produce once the formula has been learned, and easier to appraise and referee than those written in words and diagrams. With 500 journals publishing quarterly, something like 10,000 papers in economics are published every year, which are refereed by perhaps 200-300 academics at the top American universities, whose students will become the referees of papers in the next generation, papers which will of course look very much like the papers they are now themselves writing and publishing. In other words, we have created a veritable professional locomotive with a built-in momentum that feeds continually on the pressure to publish in prestigious journals in order to gain employment in prestigious institutions whose annual salaries are more or less twice those that are earned in academic “Siberia.” To turn this locomotive around is to ask individuals at the beginning of their professional career to ignore the dominant fashion for economics papers and instead to write something unfashionable, like George Akerlof’s “Market for ‘Lemons’” (a paper that was turned down three times and took four years to finally reach publication), or like Ronald Coase’s “Theory of the Firm,” a paper totally neglected by the profession for a least two decades. Can we really believe that that is likely to happen on a scale significant enough to tip the balance?» (pp. 7. Mark Blaug, “Ugly Currents in Modern Economics”, Policy Options, September, 1997)
Hi Alejandro A:
The "ugly current in economics" which Blaug refers to above 
could serve also as a criticism of most Marxian quantitative 
theory in recent decades  - whether it be "simultaneist" _or_ 
"temporalist" or linear production theory _or_ non-linear, 
disequilibrium theory. The quantitative methods employed by 
_all_ of these perspectives are "fashionable"  - to one extent 
or another - in  the economics profession.  Would that mean that they 
would qualify as a sub-set of "mainstream economics"? I don't
think so but I don't think there's any question that many
Marxians have pragmatically adapted their research and writing 
tools and styles to what is deemed to be "fashionable" in the 
profession. The reason is the same as it is for other economists:
the imperative to publish and the desire for acceptance and
recognition by their colleagues and peers - other economists. 
Almost sounds "bourgeois", doesn't it?
In solidarity, Jerry

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