Heterodox economic theory consists of a theoretical critique of neoclassical economic theory as well as a theoretical alternative to it. Moreover, it is a theory that is composed of a concatenated array of arguments drawn from different heterodox approaches. For this outcome to occur, engagement between the different approaches had to take place. Hence a heterodox ‘social movement’—that is the bringing together of different heterodox economists to exchange ideas and work together—was needed to produce the community of heterodox economists that in turn is working on developing a heterodox economic theory. The history of the ‘movement’ or more accurately the emergence of the heterodox economics community from 1990 to 2006, primarily in theUnited Statesand theUnited Kingdom, is the focus of this paper. The first part of the story concerns the adoption of heterodox economics as the ‘identifier’ or name of a group of heterodox theories. With the name in place, the second strand of the story deals with of the emergence of the community of heterodox economists by focusing on professional integration across heterodox associations and journals in the second section, and on theoretical integration across heterodox approaches in the following section. The paper concludes with an overview of heterodox economics in 2006 and a brief discussion on the future of heterodox economics in a contested landscape.
For example, heterodox economics, heterodox economists, and even just heterodox were used in 1992 to cover the diversity of non-neoclassical thought that characterized the economics department at the University of Tennessee as well as in correspondence on AFEEMAIL (starting in March 1994), on PEN-L (starting in January 1994), and on PKT (starting in January 1999). More significantly was Eric Nilsson’s establishment in 1995 of the short-lived Review of Heterodox Economics for the purpose of increasing the interchange of ideas between economists working within different heterodox approaches to economics which he identified as radical, Marxist, feminist, Post Keynesian, Institutionalist, Sraffian (neo-Ricardian), and others. The intent of the Review was to publish abstracts of working papers and dissertation projects that sought to make a contribution to heterodox economics. However, because of the high cost of processing the abstracts, the first issue in Summer 1995 listed only twelve working papers but did contain the contents of thirty-eight journals of interest to heterodox economists; while the second and last issue appeared in Winter 1996 and contained Anne Mayhew’s critique of the American Economics Review, Journal of Economic Literature, and Journal of Economic Perspectives, the list of contents of forty-two journals, and notices of five books of interest to heterodox economists. In addition, heterodox economics and heterodox economists began appearing with increasing frequency in articles and in titles and/or forwards of books, that dealt with various heterodox theories including those mentioned above as well as Austrian, Georgist, and social economics. Finally, it started to appear as a descriptor of conference topics: “The Review of Political Economy will sponsor a conference in a broad range of topics in heterodox economics, inTrier, German, from 28 to 31 July 1997”.
The final stage in the general acceptance of heterodox economics as the ‘official’ collective term for the various oppositional theories began circa 1999. First there was the publication of Phillip O’Hara’s magnificent and comprehensive Encyclopedia of Political Economy, which explicitly brought together the various heterodox approaches:
|Association/Journal||Total Membership||Membership in Two or More||Membership in Three or More|
AFEE – Association for Evolutionary Economics
ASE – Association for Social Economics
JPKE – Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
AFIT – Association for Institutional Thought
URPE –Unionfor Radical Political Economics
[Derived from Appendix A.24, Tables 1 – 3]
From circa 1990 to circa 2000, in spite of an apparent 51% decline in American membership, these four associations and the JPKE experienced significant growth in professional engagement, with an overall 19% of their members belonging to two or more and 5.3% belonging to three or more associations or subscribing to the JPKE—see Table 1. The forty American heterodox economists that belonged to the latter included those that clearly have the reputations of engaging across heterodox associations and heterodox journals—see Appendix A.24, Table 2. So by 2000 a community of heterodox economists that were professionally engaged had clearly emerged in the United States in the sense that a significant minority, if not majority, of the members of each association and the JPKE were engaged with one other and more than 5% and up to 28% were engaged with two or more associations. And in 2006, the overall degree of professional engagement remained about the same, even though American membership in the associations and subscriptions to the JPKE declined by 6%. More significantly, the percentage of the professional engagement of the membership of AFEE, ASE, and URPE increased. Consequently, an important characteristic of these associations is that a significant minority of their members is professionally engaged and becoming increasingly more so—see Table 1.
The above indicates that, even though individual heterodox associations and the JPKE continue to exist, heterodox economists in the United Statescoalesce into a professional community by 2000 and remained so. If we go beyond AFEE, ASE, AFIT, URPE, and the JPKE to include the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), the total number of American heterodox economists for 2000-01 and 2006 increases, although the overall percentage of membership in two or more and three or more associations and the JPKE did not. However, for individual associations and the JPKE the percentages do increase for 2000-01 and 2006—see Table 2. Hence, the core of American heterodox economists that were professionally engaged increased their professional engagement, that is, the network that emerged between the professionally engaged economists became denser. This fact becomes even clearer when the number of heterodox associations are increased to include the Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE), Progressive Economics Forum (PEF), Outline on Political Economy (OPE), and Heterodox Economics Newsletter (HEN). In this case, for 2006 the number of heterodox economists in the United States increases to 1020, with 28.7% having membership in two or more associations, JPKE, OPE, and HEN and 9.6% in three or more—see Table 3. The point is that, as measured, nearly 30% of heterodox economists in the United States and professionally engaged with nearly 10% being significantly engaged. And these 10% or 96 heterodox economists represent those whose publications, intellectual arguments, and conference engagement have created a heterodox economics community and given it its personality and persona—see Appendix A.24, Table 6.
|Association/Journal||Total Membership||Membership in Two or More||Membership in Three or More|
IAFFE – International Association for Feminist Economics
[Derived from Appendix A.24, Tables 4 – 5]
|Association/Journal||Total Membership||Membership in Two or More%||Membership in Three or More%|
*Excludes double counting
AHE – Association for Heterodox Economics
HEN – Heterodox Economics Newsletter
PEF – Progressive Economic Forum
OPE - Outline on Political Economy List
[Derived from Appendix A.24, Table 6]
The conference was a success. There were eight sessions in which eighteen papers were given on such heterodox topics as financial fragility, whither Post Keynesianism, critical realism and econometrics, the regulation school, dialectics and method, and the non-neutrality of money. There was also a plenary session on the future of heterodox economics with presentations by Chick, Alan Freeman, and Luigi Pasinetti. Forty-four economists attended and their affiliations spanned theU.K.heterodox communities. At the conclusion of the conference, all the participants said that they would like to have another fringe conference at the RES 2000 Conference atSt. AndrewsUniversity, either as part of or outside of it. However, the RES rejected my proposal that the fringe conference be part its annual conference; andSt.Andrews refused to provide any rooms for the conference. Refusing to admit defeat and supported by many to hold a second fringe conference, I looked for an alternative conference site. Andrew Trigg came to my rescue and offered the Open University Conference Centre inLondonas the site for the conference.
The conference was organized into three parallel sessions over two days in order to accommodate the sixty-one papers being presented on the many different facets of heterodox economics. In addition, there were also two plenary sessions at the conference. At the first session, Paul Omerod gave a lecture on “The Death of Economics Revisited” and at the second Chick and John Grahl debated whether the U.K.should join the European single currency. Finally, there was a conference dinner at which Bernard Corry gave the after dinner speech. Ninety-three conference participants came from the U.K., Ireland, Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim. During the conference, a meeting was held to discuss the future of the AHE and it was decided to form a open coordinating committee with Trigg as the coordinator. It was charged with the mandate to put on an annual AHE conference and to engage in any other activities that would promote heterodox economics in the U.K.and Ireland. There was also an extensive discussion at the meeting on whether the AHE should continue to hold fringe conferences at the RES conferences. However, the majority felt that this was being too confrontational and hence it was agreed to hold the AHE conference at a different time and place from the RES annual conference.
The third AHE conference, which was also held in Londonat the Open University Conference Centre, was even more of a success than the previous year, with eight-four papers being presented and three plenary sessions. One plenary session dealt with the concerns of the French movement for Post-Autistic Economics and the Cambridgestudents’ proposal on the opening up economics, while a second session was on the future of heterodox economics. At the third plenary, A. W. Coats gave a lecture on the history of heterodox economics, pointing out that ideas quickly switch in status from orthodox to heterodox and vice versa. Finally, at the conference dinner, John King, the after-dinner speaker, delighted his audience with spicy anecdotes and derisive tales of journal editors from hell. The success of the conference meant that the AHE was now an established association with a good financial base and a growing body of activists and participants.
Building a Community of Heterodox Economists
The purpose of the AHE and its annual conference was and is to bring all heterodox economists in the U.K. and Ireland together to hear papers that interest them, to socialize and network, and to build a community where pluralism, not division existed. The themes of the first conferences promoted community with pluralism and the participants included heterodox economists from the CSE, PKSG, EAEPE, and the Cambridge Realist Workshop; the subsequent conferences Dublin (2002), Nottingham (2003), Leeds (2004) and London (2005, 2006) continued in the same vain. In addition, recognizing that the future of heterodox economics depends critically on the next generation of economists that emerge from academia, Wendy Olsen and Alfredo Saad Filho obtained funding from the ESRC to organize an AHE advanced training workshop in heterodox research methodologies. The first AHE methodology workshop took place in November 2001 and covered causal explanations, modeling, grounded theory, statistical analysis, and qualitative research. There were twenty-six Ph.D. students in attendance from the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Canada, and the U.S., many of which continued to participate in the AHE annual conference. The three subsequent workshops repeated the successes of the first one and hence promoted further professional engagement among Britain’s heterodox economists. Finally, the AHE promoted professional engagement by representing all U.K.heterodox economists before governmental agencies, such as the Quality Assessment Agency regarding the revision of the subject benchmark statement for economics. Thus the AHE and its professional-engaging activities made a significant contribution to the building of a community of heterodox economists in the U.K.
This general proclivity for pluralistic theoretical engagement continued unabated from the 1960s through the 1980s with various endeavors by heterodox economists to engage, integrate or synthesis Institutional, Post Keynesian, and Marxist-radical approaches, Institutional and Post Keynesian approaches, Post Keynesian and Marxian-radical approaches, Post Keynesian and Austrian, Austrian and Institutionalists, Feminist and Marxist-radical approaches, Institutional and Marxist-Radical Approaches, Institutional and Social Economics, ecological and Marxian-radical approaches, and social and Marxian economics. Thus by 1990 many heterodox economists could no longer see distinct theoretical boundaries between the various approaches, an outcome that mirrors the professional integration already taking place.
From 1990 to the present day, heterodox economists continued the past integration efforts of engaging across the various heterodox approaches—see Table 4. The theoretical engagement between Post Keynesian, Institutional, social, Marxian/radical, and feminist economics is unsurprising since, as delineated in the previous section, many heterodox economists are members of more than one heterodox association. In addition, we find that there are engagements between ecological and Marxian, social, and Institutional economics as well as between Austrians and Marxian/radical, Post Keynesian, Institutional, and feminist economics. Moreover, there are creative mixtures of heterodox approaches that are best described by their own names, such as the social structures of accumulation school, the French conventions school, and economic sociology. Finally to reinforce the theoretical integration obvious in Table 10.4, the informal but de facto editorial policies adopted by their editors resulted in papers being accepted for publication that engaged with the full range of heterodox approaches. Consequently, from 1993 to 2003 the nine principle English language generalist heterodox journals cited each other so extensively that no single journal or sub-set of journals is isolated—see Appendix A.27. Hence they form a completely interdependent whole where all heterodox approaches have direct and indirect connections with each other.
It is clear that the heterodox community is not segregated along theoretical lines, but rather there is cross-approach engagement to such an extent that the boundaries of the various approaches do not simply overlap, they are, in some cases, not there at all. The ensuing theoretical messiness of cross-approach engagement is evidence to detractors of the theoretical incoherence of heterodox economics whereas to supporters of progress towards a more theoretically coherent heterodox economics—a glass half-empty of coherence vs. a glass half-full of coherence.
|Lavoie (1992)||Levin (1995)||Dutt (1990)||Runde (1993)|
|Jennings(1994)||Danby (2004)||Crotty (1993)||Prychitko (1993)|
|Arestis (1996)||van Staveren (2006)||Lavoie (2006)||Mongiovi (1994)|
|Peterson & Brown (1994)||Garnett (1999)||Stanfield (1994)||Matthaei (1996)|
|Waller (2005)||Mouhammed (2000)||Merrett (1997)||Gibson-Graham(1996)|
|Dugger & Sherman (2000)||Niggle (2003)|
|Barker & Feiner (2004)|
|Emami (1993)||Gowdy (1994)||Horwitz (1998)||Adaman & Devine (1996)|
|Nelson (1993)||Ropke (2005)||Burczak et. al (1998)|
|Soderbaum (2000)||Martinez-Alier (2003)||Horwitz (1995)||Kotz, et. al (1994)|
|Vatn (2005)||Burkett (2006)||Levy (2002)|
|Smelser & Swedberg (2005)|
So what does the community of heterodox economists look like in terms of its members, associations, publication outlets, work sites, conferences, and communications? First of all it is both a national and world-wide community. That is, it consists of at least twenty-seven heterodox associations, some of which were formed over thirty years ago while others were formed in the last decade; and those identified are located in the United States, United Kingdom/Ireland, Japan, Brazil, Europe and seven other countries around the world—see Table 5. In addition, there are many heterodox economists not members of these associations but simply subscribe to heterodox journals, such as the JPKE, subscribe to heterodox newsletters such as HEN, or are members of particular heterodox e-mail lists such as OPE or MEX-V. Consequently, heterodox economists are found around the world—see Table 6 and Appendix A.25. Some associations and e-mail lists are specific to particular countries because of language (ADEK, KSESA, MEX-V) or particular focus (PEF), which means that the number of their members that belong to other associations may be low. However, other associations are not so constrained and hence 28% to 68% of their membership belong to two or more other heterodox organizations and from 15% to 34% belong to three or more—see Appendix A.26. Furthermore every heterodox organization has at least a few members that belong to four or more such organizations; and these fifty-five heterodox economists are well-known for their professional engagement and leadership, with forty located in the United States, four in the United Kingdom, two each in Canada and Australia, and seven scatted around the world—see Table 6 and Appendix A.26.
|Country or Region|
of Primary Activity
2006 (if known)
|Association d’Economie Politique|
|Association for Economics and Social Analysis|
|Late 1970s||United States|
|Association for Evolutionary Economics|
|Association for Heterodox Economics|
|1999||United Kingdom & Ireland||167|
|Association for Institutionalist Thought|
|Association for Social Economics|
|Association pour le Developpement |
Des Estudes Keynesiennes
|Association Recherche et Regulation||1994||France|
|Belgian-Dutch Association for|
Institutional and Political Economy
|1980||The Netherlands & Belgium|
|Conference of Socialist Economists|
|European Association for|
Evolutionary Political Economy
|German Association of Political Economy||Germany|
|German Keynes Society||Germany||100|
|International Association for Feminist Economics|
|International Confederation of Associations for|
Pluralism in Economics
|JapanAssociation for Evolutionary Economics|
|JapanSociety of Political Economy|
|The Japanese Society for|
Post Keynesian Economics
|Korean Social and Economic Studies Association|
|Progressive Economics Forum|
|Society for the Advancement of|
|Society for the Advancement of|
|Society for the Development of|
|Society of Heterodox Economists|
|Sociedade Brasileira de Economia Politica|
|Unionfor Radical Political Economics|
|US Society for Ecological Economics|
|Country||Number of Heterodox Economists||Membership/subscription in four or more heterodox organizations|
|Rest of World||106||1|
[Derived from Appendix A.25 and A.26]
The community also includes some thirty generalist heterodox journals, seventeen specialist journals, twenty-six interdisciplinary journals, and a whole host of popular journals. Some of the journals are national in orientation while others are international, particularly the Post-Autistic Economics Review with its 9,410 subscribers from over 150 countries. Moreover, there are approximately fourteen heterodox book series and at least eight international publishers, including Ashgate, Cambridge, Edward Elgar, Michigan, Pluto Press, Routledge, M. E. Sharpe, and Verso, and a large number of national publishers that have a specific interest in publishing heterodox economics books. In addition, there are a large number of work sites, that is, academic departments in many different countries where the production and teaching of heterodox economics takes place without prejudice. The number of departments around the world that offer post-graduate qualifications, such as a M.A. or Ph.D., in which heterodox economics is an important component is more than thirty; and it is the graduates of these post-graduate programs that will determine the character and personality of the heterodox community over the next two decades. Finally, as a rough estimate there are at least thirty-five heterodox conferences a year around the world, including the annual conferences of many of the above heterodox associations, supplemented by AESA’s and ICAPE’s triennial conferences. The significance of the many conferences is that they promote and maintain social relationships between heterodox economists and hence help glue the community together. And when not attending conferences, heterodox economists, especially those in relatively isolated situations, rely on association newsletters or more generally the HEN to remain part of the community.
The response of mainstream economists to individual heterodox economists in recent years has not changed from the responses in earlier times. Such responses, while painful to individuals and threatens their continual membership in the community, do not necessarily affect the structural and relational components that maintain the community of heterodox economists. However, in the past decade the mainstream has threaten the actual structures of the community by attacking, through assessment exercises, subject benchmarking statements, and ranking departments and journals, the work site and production of doctoral students. Repulsing the attack requires, in part, that heterodox economics be taught to more students, that more doctoral students be produced, and that heterodox economists become more professionally and theoretically engaged through joining multiple heterodox associations, subscribing to multiple heterodox journals, attending multiple heterodox conferences, and engaging in open pluralistic theoretical dialogue with other heterodox economists. But what is really necessary to do is for heterodox economists challenge the research assessment exercises, subject benchmark statements, and the mainstream ranking of journals and departments through, perhaps, developing their own methods of research assessments and ranking of journals and departments. All this will take is the will to act and in 2006 there are many members in the community of heterodox economists who have such capabilities.
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