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The Equilibrium Image of the Market

Listed author(s):
  • Ingrao Bruna


    (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”)

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    The paper focuses on conceptual images of the market built on the core idea of equilibrium. It argues that logical difficulties and dead ends were encountered in building equilibrium models of the market. A heavy toll was paid in loss of realism, failure to understand history, and ineptitude in addressing relevant problems. Equilibrium economics is marked by the exclusion of a wide range of economic phenomena, with a codified lack of attention to change, transition and learning. The loss of relevance involved was a consequence of the primitive idea of conceiving of the market within the semantic field of equilibrium. The most evident failure of the equilibrium imagery was in understanding economic development as a process of social and structural change in history. The paper argues that is time to free economic theory from the obsessive centrality of the equilibrium idea. Attention should shift to the market economy as a complex network of rules, organizations and institutions, which make viable economic change. This approach invites scholars in economics to a fruitful dialogue with other fields of knowledge, to understand both crises and successes in processes of economic change.Larticle traite des images conceptuelles du marché construites à partir de lidée déquilibre. Il est suggéré que la construction des modèles déquilibre du marché a souffert de difficultés logiques et a aboutit à des impasses. Il en a résulté une perte de réalisme, et une incapacité à comprendre lhistoire et à aborder les questions pertinentes. Léconomie de léquilibre est caractérisée par lexclusion dun grand nombre de phénomènes économiques mais aussi par un manque dattention au changement, à la transition, et à lapprentissage. Le manque de pertinence qui en découle est le résultat de lidée primitive de concevoir le marché dans le champ sémantique de léquilibre. Léchec le plus évident de limage déquilibre réside dans la compréhension du développement économique comme un processus du changement social et structurel au cours de lhistoire. Larticle suggère quil est temps de libérer la théorie économique de cette idée obsessionnelle déquilibre. Il faut plutôt concevoir le marché comme un réseau complexe de règles, dorganisations et dinstitutions qui rendent le changement économique viable. Cette approche invite léconomie à un dialogue fructueux avec les autres domaines de la connaissance pour comprendre à la fois les crises et les réussites des processus de changement économique.

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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 2 (December)
    Pages: 1-20

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:14:y:2004:i:2:n:7
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    1. Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances & Ramirez, Alejandro, 2000. "Economic Growth and Human Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 197-219, February.
    2. Viktor Vanberg, 2004. "The rationality postulate in economics: its ambiguity, its deficiency and its evolutionary alternative," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 1-29.
    3. Jonathan Temple, 1999. "The New Growth Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 112-156, March.
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