[OPE-L:4397] Re: dissertation topics

Duncan K. Fole (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 20:36:38 -0800 (PST)

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I think the most fertile area at the moment lies in the empirical
examination of Marxist ideas. While it would be nice to move toward ex ante
theories or models in these areas, there's still a great deal of
constructive work to be done at a PhD level simply measuring what has
actually happened in Marxist terms. I'd steer graduate students towards the
work of Dumenil and Levy as an example of what kind of research might be
possible in this respect.

1. There have been four relatively recent theses (Senchak, Columbia 1983;
Matthews, Yale, 1995; Azari, Utah 1996; Alemi, New School, 1997) using U.S.
data to measure the parameters of the circuit of capital in the post-war
U.S. As far as I know, no comparative work on other advanced capitalist
countries or less advanced capitalist countries has been attempted, except
for Amsden's CJE 1980 article, which is limited to the study of the rate of

2. The publication of the Penn World Tables data on comparative growth
patterns since 1960 for a large sample of countries opens up the
possibility of some systematic examination of issues related to the falling
rate of profit (such as changes in the rate of exploitation and the
composition of costs and of capital) empirically.

3. There have been a few attempts to use the labor theory of value and the
monetary expression of labor as a basis for an examination of exchange
rates and labor accounting of international trade patterns, but a great
deal remains to be done in this area, and there is a lot of usable data.

I'm not sure this meets Jerry's criteria, but, after all, the bright young
graduate student should do something herself.



>Not many of us have dissertation students. Suppose you did. If a smart,
>young graduate student asked you for ideas about possible dissertation
>topics based on what you felt were topics that _needed_ someone to write a
>thesis on, what concrete topics (including a title and summary or
>"abstract") might you suggest? In your summary or abstract, it would be
>helpful if you could specify the topic as clearly as possible and give a
>short explanation for why such a thesis is important.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Barnard College
New York, NY 10027
fax: (212)-854-8947
e-mail: dkf2@columbia.edu