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The Superiority of Economists

Author

Listed:
  • Marion Fourcade

    (UC Berkeley - University of California [Berkeley] - UC - University of California)

  • Etienne Ollion

    (UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg, SAGE - Sociétés, Acteurs, Gouvernement en Europe - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Yann Algan

    (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPREMAP - Centre pour la recherche économique et ses applications - ECO ENS-PSL - Département d'économie de l'ENS-PSL - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres)

Abstract

In this essay, we analyze the dominant position of economics within the network of the social sciences in the United States. We begin by documenting the relative insularity of economics, using bibliometric data. Next we analyze the tight management of the field from the top down, which gives economics its characteristic hierarchical structure. Economists also distinguish themselves from other social scientists through their much better material situation (many teach in business schools, have external consulting activities), their more individualist worldviews, and their confidence in their discipline's ability to fix the world's problems. Taken together, these traits constitute what we call the superiority of economists, where economists' objective supremacy is intimately linked with their subjective sense of authority and entitlement. While this superiority has certainly fueled economists' practical involvement and their considerable influence over the economy, it has also exposed them more to conflicts of interests, political critique, even derision.

Suggested Citation

  • Marion Fourcade & Etienne Ollion & Yann Algan, 2015. "The Superiority of Economists," Post-Print hal-03392966, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-03392966
    DOI: 10.1257/jep.29.1.89
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://sciencespo.hal.science/hal-03392966
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economist; Social science network; Field supremacy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations

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