Changing the world one student at a time? Uncovering subjective understandings of economics instructors' roles
In the wake of the economic crisis, a number of student organisations and researchers came together to highlight the lack of pluralism and heterodox approaches in economics curricula. The high relevance of the pluralism debate becomes clear once set within the considerations of the implications of a given scientific discourse on reality. This is especially relevant for social sciences, where reality-creating is visible in e.g. the influence of economists on policy making. This study explores the role of instructors in co-constructing the dynamics of the pluralism discourse and debates. An empirical field study is conducted with lecturers in introductory economics courses at the WU Vienna University of Economics and Business where they place themselves within the pluralism discourse via a Q-study. Q is a mixed method typically employed for studying subjectivity inherent to a given, socially contested topic. It begins with a set of statements that undergo a sorting procedure on a relative ranking scale, and finishes with factorrendering. Four voices are identified: Moderate Pluralist, Mainstreamers, Responsible Pluralists, and Applied Pluralists. The implications of the ideas brought by these voices are discussed from the point of view of discursive institutionalism, stressing in particular the role of ideas and discourse in institutional change. On top of what is here referred to as discursive readinesses for changes towards more pluralism, strategies for overcoming the difficulties on the institutional level need to be developed. (authors' abstract)
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