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What is this thing called ‘heterodox economics’?


  • Andrew Mearman

    () (Department of Economics, University of the West of England)


This paper conducts a type of meta-analysis of a sample of commentaries on heterodox economics, also drawing on biological literature and other treatments of classification. The paper contrasts what might be called a ‘classical’ category with a ‘modern’ category and then analyses treatments of HE as a category. It is argued that though HE appears to be a complex object – and that authors recognise this – HE as a category is most often classical even though modern would appear more appropriate. That this is the case may reflect choices of levels of abstraction which in turn reflect instrumental purposes of influencing the reality of Economics. While arguments for the rejection of HE as a category are too strong, current treatments of HE are perhaps not careful enough in recognising its provisional and fluid nature. The paper considers these issues in turn.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Mearman, 2010. "What is this thing called ‘heterodox economics’?," Working Papers 1006, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwe:wpaper:1006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brian Loasby, 2003. "Closed models and open systems," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 285-306.
    2. D. Meador, 2009. "Comment on “What is Heterodox Economics? Conversations with Historians of Economic Thought”," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 38(1), pages 71-73, April.
    3. Andy Denis, 2013. "Pluralism in economics education," Chapters,in: Teaching Post Keynesian Economics, chapter 5, pages 88-105 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Davis, John B, 1999. "Common Sense: A Middle Way between Formalism and Post-Structuralism?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(4), pages 503-515, July.
    5. Alan Freeman, 2009. "The Economists of Tomorrow: the Case for a Pluralist Subject Benchmark Statement for Economics," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 8(2), pages 23-40.
    6. David Dequech, 2007. "Neoclassical, mainstream, orthodox, and heterodox economics," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(2), pages 279-302.
    7. Dow, Sheila C, 1990. "Beyond Dualism," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 143-157, June.
    8. Wynne Godley & Anwar Shaikh, 2002. "An Important Inconsistency at the Heart of the Standard Macroeconomic Model," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(3), pages 423-441, March.
    9. Andrew Mearman, 2009. "Who do heterodox economists think they are?," Working Papers 0915, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    10. Backhouse, Roger E., 2000. "Progress in Heterodox Economics," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(02), pages 149-155, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thornton, Tim B, 2011. "The economics curriculum in Australian Universities 1980 to 2011," MPRA Paper 39321, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    heterodox economics; taxonomy; complexity; meta-analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • B5 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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