Dissent in economics : making radical political economics and post Keynesian economics, 1960-1980
The history of dissent in economics has thus far been subject to scant interest. The existing scholarship, authored by dissenters probing their own past, has failed to address the crucial questions of how dissent emerged and rooted itself. This study is about two dissenting communities, Radical Political Economics and Post Keynesian Economics. I review the circumstances that led to their emergence in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I draw from the histories of religious and scientific dissent to explore the making of the dissenters' challenge to the economics orthodoxy. Notably, I use the concept of boundary work to analyse the debates between dissenters and mainstream. The history of Radical Political Economics begins with the founding in 1968 of the Union for Radical Political Economics. Onto this Union converged a generation of young radicalised academics that sought to unite their political interests and their scholarly pursuits. After a period devoted to the design of a "paradigm of conflict," radicals turned to outreach work with popular movements. The new commitment brought divisive political identities into their Union that barred any agreement on a programme to transform economics. Post Keynesian Economics emerged in the aftermath of debates on capital theory between Cambridge left Keynesians and neoclassical economists. With the conviction that the debates signalled the emergence of a new theory in economics, American dissenters decided to ally with the Cambridge critics. The content of the alliance was redefined many times in the 1970s by a succession of spokespersons for the group. Of this period resulted a weakly bound community joined by a sense of shared ancestry. The two case studies reveal the diverse resources and allies that dissenters mustered for their battle with the economics orthodoxy. They show how the dissenters' challenge shaped the boundaries of their communities and the content of their identity.