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Why should we consider Rousseau as an economist?


  • Catherine LARRÈRE



The received idea is that he could not miss the science of modernity. But if we investigate what can be considered as the economic thought of Rousseau, we must be distinguish two different lines of thought: one which has to do with the division of labour (to be mostly found in Emile and the second Discourse), the other one, about economics proper, to be found in the Discourse on Political Economy. In this latter work, we see that Rousseau is keen on maintaining the difference between two social spheres: the family and the civil, or political, sphere. There is no possibility, for him, of a universal or uniform pattern of rational behaviour equally valid in both areas. As to division of labour, he sees it not as a means to independence, but, on the contrary, as a way of becoming more and more dependant of the others. That is why economic processes should be submitted to political control in order to be conducive to liberty.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine LARRÈRE, 2007. "Why should we consider Rousseau as an economist?," Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy, L'Harmattan, issue 53, pages 115-133.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpo:journl:y:2007:i:53:p:115-133

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    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology


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