Complexity and the Culture of Economics: A Sociological Inter-Disciplinary Analysis

This paper offers a sociological explanation for why the field of economics has so severely restricted the scope of its analysis to the point where it failed to foresee the financial crises, economic recessions, and other large shifts in economic activity that have characterized the global economy in recent decades. This paper’s analysis of the culture of economics draws heavily on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, the French sociologist who developed a useful framework with which to analyze the culture of an intellectual field like economics. Specifically, the paper describes how the neo-liberal doxa supports the restrictive neoclassical (marginalist) modeling approach that is a central element of the habitus of mainstream economics. Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence shows how the orthodox economics culture perpetuates itself even in the face of the complete failure of the culture’s favored neoclassical and rational expectations models to anticipate recent macroeconomic crises. The paper concludes with some thoughts on how this understanding of the culture of economics can enable economists to free themselves from the oppressive culture of mainstream economics.

Publication Information
Article Title: Complexity and the Culture of Economics: A Sociological Inter-Disciplinary Analysis
Journal: Journal of Philosophical Economics (2012)
5(2), 38-63
Author(s): van den Berg, Hendrik
Researcher Information
van den Berg, Hendrik
van den Berg, Hendrik
  • Economic Development
  • Heterodox Economics
  • International Finance
  • Open-Economy Macroeconomics
CBA 350
P.O. Box 880489
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0489, USA
Phone: (402) 202-6997
Fax: (402) 472-9700