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Sraffa: the theoretical world of the 'old classical economists'


  • Pierangelo Garegnani


Sraffa's mature work is seen here as a re-discovery and resumption of the 'submerged and forgotten' approach of the 'old classical economists from Adam Smith to Ricardo'. Wages determined by broad economic and social forces entail there product prices determined independently of demand and supply functions. Some main questions raised for the modern economists by this radical reorientation of economic theory are then considered in order to conclude that it is aginst that background that Sraffa's mature work should be set with its three main contributions, of a rediscovery of the approach, of a complete and transparent solution of the problems of price determination it raises, and of its application to the critique of neoclassical theory. Among several developments originating from Sraffa's seminal work, two are singled out for mention: (i) the possibility of deficiencies of aggregate demand in the long period no less than in the short one; this follows naturally from the abandonment of the neoclassical theory of distribution, of which the role of the interset rate in equilibrating savings and investment is a corollary; (ii) the question of the distribution of the surplus between wages and profits in a modern economy where wages are no longer confined to subsistence.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierangelo Garegnani, 1998. "Sraffa: the theoretical world of the 'old classical economists'," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 415-429.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:5:y:1998:i:3:p:415-429
    DOI: 10.1080/10427719800000043

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ajit Sinha & Michel-Stéphane Dupertuis, 2009. "Sraffa's System: Equal Rate of Profits and the Notion of Centre of Gravitation," Post-Print hal-00683159, HAL.
    2. John Davis, 2002. "Gramsci, Sraffa, Wittgenstein: philosophical linkages," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 384-401.
    3. Duccio Cavalieri, 2009. "Sull'inseparabilità delle strutture sintattiche nell'analisi classica del valore e della distribuzione," STUDI ECONOMICI, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 0(97), pages 5-46.
    4. Sinha, Ajit & Dupertuis, Michel-Stéphane, 2009. "Sraffa's system: Equal rate of profits and the notion of center of gravitation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 495-501, August.
    5. Nuno Ornelas Martins, 2012. "Mathematics, Science and the Cambridge Tradition," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-2, December.


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