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The turn in economics: neoclassical dominance to mainstream pluralism?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 April 2006

JOHN B. DAVIS
Affiliation:
University of Amsterdam and Marquette University

Abstract

This paper investigates whether since the 1980s neoclassical economics has been in the process of being supplanted as the dominant research programme in economics by a collection of competing research approaches which share relatively little in common with each other or with neoclassical economics. A shortlist of the new approaches in recent economics includes game theory, experimental economics, behavioral economics, evolutionary economics, neuroeconomics, and non-linear complexity theory. Two hypotheses are advanced – one regarding the relation between economics instruction and economics research and one regarding the nature of the economics research frontier – to describe social-institutional practices that contribute to the replication of economics as a field. Two further hypotheses are advanced – one regarding the boundaries of the field and one regarding how the field appraises itself – to create a historical–methodological framework for evaluating the question of change in economics and change in recent economics in particular. Finally, the paper distinguishes three leading explanations – the ‘breakdown’ view, the ‘takeover’ view, and the ‘maturity’ view – of why neoclassical economics no longer dominates a mainstream economics.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2006 The JOIE Foundation

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Footnotes

I am grateful for comments on previous versions of this paper to Jack Amariglio, Mark Blaug, David Colander, Wade Hands, Matthias Klaes, Philip Mirowski, Jorma Sappinen, Esther-Mirjam Sent, Roy Weintraub, James Wible, and the reviewers of this journal. The usual disclaimer applies.