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Economic and Political Solutions to Social Problems: The Case of Second-hand Smoke in Enclosed Public Places


  • John Meadowcroft


This article utilises a case study of the problem of second-hand smoke in enclosed public places to examine economic and political solutions to social problems. The responses of economic actors to this problem are examined via review of a number of pre-existing case studies of private arrangements in bars and restaurants prior to the introduction of smoking bans. The responses of political actors are examined via a study of the legislative process that led to the ban on smoking in enclosed public places introduced in England in 2007. This empirical evidence supports the view that economic decision-making leads to a plurality of different accommodations of different preferences, suggestive of inter-subjective learning, whereas political decision-making leads to exclusive, all-or-nothing solutions indicative of an adversarial approach to decision-making and the imposition of one group's preferences on the whole population.

Suggested Citation

  • John Meadowcroft, 2011. "Economic and Political Solutions to Social Problems: The Case of Second-hand Smoke in Enclosed Public Places," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 233-248.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:23:y:2011:i:2:p:233-248 DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2011.561559

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carl Chiarella & Roberto Dieci & Xue-Zhong He, 2008. "Heterogeneity, Market Mechanisms, and Asset Price Dynamics," Research Paper Series 231, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
    2. Thomas I. Palley, 1994. "Debt, Aggregate Demand, and The Business Cycle: an Analysis in the Spirit of Kaldor and Minsky," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 371-390, March.
    3. Charles Whalen, 2008. "Understanding the Credit Crunch as a Minsky Moment," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(1), pages 91-109.
    4. Philip Arestis, 2002. "Financial crisis in Southeast Asia: dispelling illusion the Minskyan way," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 237-260, March.
    5. Jan Kregel, 2008. "Minsky’s Cushions of Safety: Systemic Risk and the Crisis in the U.S. Subprime Mortgage Market," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_93, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Claude Gnos & Louis-Philippe Rochon, 2011. "Credit, Money and Macroeconomic Policy. A Post Keynesian Approach," Post-Print halshs-01231787, HAL.
    7. Vercelli,Allessandro, 1991. "Methodological Foundations of Macroeconomics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521392945, March.
    8. Jan Toporowski, 2008. "Minsky's 'induced investment and business cycles'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(5), pages 725-737, September.
    9. Sordi, Serena & Vercelli, Alessandro, 2006. "Financial fragility and economic fluctuations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 543-561, December.
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