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A 1930s North American Creative Community: The Harvard “Pareto Circle”


  • Annie L. Cot


Academic seminars are a rather recent invention. Among the seminars that flourished at Harvard during the late 1920s and early 1930s, one played a major role in creating what Margaret Gilbert (1989, 2000) calls a “joint commitment” of its members. Organized by Lawrence J. Henderson, it was centered on Vilfredo Pareto’s Trattato di sociologia generale, first published in 1916. Within this circle, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and specialists in industrial relations elaborated collectively both a new set of scientific beliefs and a new methodology for each of their own disciplines. Their joint commitment took the form of a common epistemological credo, according to which all social sciences needed to be restructured around a common “conceptual scheme,” expressed in terms of “general equilibrium.”

Suggested Citation

  • Annie L. Cot, 2011. "A 1930s North American Creative Community: The Harvard “Pareto Circle”," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 131-159, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:43:y:2011:i:1:p:131-159

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    Cited by:

    1. Erich Pinzón-Fuchs, 2016. "Macroeconometric modeling as a "photographic description of reality" or as an "engine for the discovery of concrete truth" ? Friedman and Klein on statistical illusions," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01364812, HAL.
    2. Erich Pinzón-Fuchs, 2016. "Macroeconometric modeling as a "photographic description of reality" or as an "engine for the discovery of concrete truth" ? Friedman and Klein on statistical illusions," Working Papers halshs-01364812, HAL.


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