Economics for the Masses : The Visual Display of Economic Knoledge in the United Staes (1921-1945)
The rise of visual representation in economics textbooks after WWII is one of the main features of contemporary economics. In this paper, we argue that this development has been preceded by a no less significant rise of visual representation in the larger literature devoted to social and scientific issues, including economic textbooks for non-economists as well as newspapers and magazines. During the interwar era, editors, propagandists and social scientists altogether encouraged the use of visual language as the main vehicle to spread information and opinions about the economy to a larger audience. These new ways of visualizing social facts, which most notably helped shape the understanding of economic issues by various audiences during the years of the Great Depression, were also conceived by their inventors as alternative ways of practicing economics: in opposition to the abstraction of “neoclassical” economics, these authors wanted to use visual representation as a way to emphasize the human character of the discipline and did not accept the strict distinction between the creation and the diffusion of economic knowledge. We explore different yet related aspects of these developments by studying the use of visual language in economics textbooks intended for non-specialists, in periodicals such as the Survey, a monthly magazine intended for an audience of social workers, the Americanization of Otto Neurath's pictorial statistics and finally the use of those visual representations by various state departments and administrations under Roosevelt's legislature (including the much-commented Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration). We show how visualizations that have been created in opposition to neoclassical economics have lost most of their theoretical content when used widely for policy purposes while being simultaneously integrated into the larger American culture. It is our claim that those issues, which are familiar to those involved in cultural and visual studies, are also of crucial importance to apprehend the later developments of modern economics.
|Date of creation:||2010|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 33, boulevard du port - 95011 Cergy-Pontoise Cedex|
Phone: 33 1 34 25 60 63
Fax: 33 1 34 25 62 33
Web page: http://thema.u-cergy.fr
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Paul A. Samuelson & Harold W. McGraw & William D. Nordhaus & Orley Ashenfelter & Robert M. Solow & Stanley Fischer, 1999. "Samuelson's Economics at Fifty: Remarks on the Occasion of the Anniversary of Publication," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(4), pages 352-363, December.
- Rutherford, Malcolm, 2000. "Understanding Institutional Economics: 1918–1929," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(03), pages 277-308, September.
- Giraud, Yann B., 2010.
"The Changing Place Of Visual Representation In Economics: Paul Samuelson Between Principle And Strategy, 1941–1955,"
Journal of the History of Economic Thought,
Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-197, June.
- Yann Giraud, 2010. "The Changing Place of Visual Representation in Economics: Paul Samuelson between Principle and Strategy, 1941-1955," Post-Print hal-00870392, HAL.
- Loïc Charles, 2004. "The Tableau Économique as Rational Recreation," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 445-474, Fall. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:2010-03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Stefania Marcassa)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.