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Pluralist methodology for development economics: the example of moral economy of Indian labour markets


  • Wendy Olsen


This paper adds a moral angle to the pluralist approach to development economics, exploring the normative assumptions found in all the five main schools of thought that have analysed India's rural labour markets (neoclassical, new institutionalist, Marxist political economy, formalized political economy and feminist). The theorizations that are used by each have normative overtones, which are distinguished here from normative undertones (i.e. elements of meaning that have an affect component). Regression analysis in this literature is used to illustrate the types of undertones that are present. The undertones tend to cause performative contradictions for authors who claim value neutrality. The various moral reasoning strategies available for meta-normative economic research do not offer easy solutions. However they convincingly support the case for openness to a plurality of approaches to research in development economics. Further research on normative overtones is warranted. JEL Classifications: B5, O17, O12, O53

Suggested Citation

  • Wendy Olsen, 2007. "Pluralist methodology for development economics: the example of moral economy of Indian labour markets," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 57-82.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:14:y:2007:i:1:p:57-82
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780601170065

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    More about this item


    pluralism; schools of thought; poverty; moral economy; mixed methods research; normative social theory;

    JEL classification:

    • B5 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East


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