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Economics as social engineering? Questioning the performativity thesis

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  • Ana C. Santos
  • João Rodrigues

Abstract

The social engineering ambitions of economics have never been so high. Economists are increasingly invited to construct markets from scratch or to design mechanisms that mimic the market. Science students take these social engineering efforts as evidence for the capacity of economists to make the economy more like its description in economic theories. This paper scrutinises one such viewpoint. It examines Michel Callon's performativity thesis that presents the stronger stance regarding the impact of economics on the economy--economic theory can be made true by construction. It concludes that the research carried out thus far fails to support this thesis. It has shown that economics, understood in a very loose sense, has an active role in market building. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Ana C. Santos & João Rodrigues, 2009. "Economics as social engineering? Questioning the performativity thesis," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(5), pages 985-1000, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:33:y:2009:i:5:p:985-1000
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/ben058
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    Cited by:

    1. Ana C. Santos, 2011. "Experimental Economics," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology, chapter 3 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Yahya Madra & Fikret Adaman, 2013. "Neoliberal reason and its forms:Depoliticization through economization," Working Papers 2013/07, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    3. Boldyrev, I., 2011. "Economic Methodology Today: a Review of Major Contributions," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 9, pages 47-70.

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