Principles of Institutional-Evolutionary Political Economy-Converging Themes from the Schools of Heterodoxy

By O'Hara, Phillip Anthony | Journal of Economic Issues, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Principles of Institutional-Evolutionary Political Economy-Converging Themes from the Schools of Heterodoxy


O'Hara, Phillip Anthony, Journal of Economic Issues


Over the past forty years there has been a considerable revival of heterodox political economy throughout the world. Heterodoxy has experienced a renewal in the form of several schools of thought. (1) Institutionalists and evolutionary economists have proffered the significance of institutions and technological change. Post Keynesians have re-established the role of aggregate demand in a circular and cumulative framework. Neo-Marxists have sought to bring to the fore the importance of class analysis and economic surplus. Feminists have been active in fostering an integrative analysis of class, gender and ethnicity. Social economists have examined the role of justice, ethics and trust in institutions. Development and international political economists have recreated an interdisciplinary focus on the uneven forces operating in the global economy. In addition, ecological economists have linked the laws of thermodynamics with strong sustainability and the precautionary principle to create a durable edifice on the environment.

Several associations and journals have been established with a view to making heterodox political economy a viable scholarly undertaking. Institutionalists and evolutionary economists organized the Association for Evolutionary Economics in 1965 and began publishing the Journal of Economic Issues two years later. The Association for Institutionalist Thought has been active for twenty-five years now, and the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy began operating in 1989. Recently the Journal of Institutional Economics commenced publication; while the International Schumpeter Society began their affiliation with the Journal of Evolutionary Economics in the early 1990s. Post Keynesians commenced the publication of the Cambridge Journal of Economics and the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics in the late 1970s. Marxists and radicals formed the Union for Radical Political Economists in 1968, and begun publishing the Review of Radical Political Economics a year later. Several other radical journals emerged, such as Capital and Class, Studies in Political Economy, the Journal of Australian Political Economy, and Rethinking Marxism. The International Association for Feminist Economics was instituted in 1992, three years before their journal, Feminist Economics, was created. Social economists changed the direction of the Review of Social Economy in the early 1970s under the impact of the 1960s reform movements, and established the International Journal of Social Economics in 1972 along with the Journal of Socio-Economics in the mid-1990s. Those with a penchant for the environment created the International Society for Ecological Economics in 1989, along with Ecological Economics; while Capitalism, Nature and Socialism has been published quarterly since 1990. Several other journals also emerged with a political economy agenda, such as the Review of Political Economy, New Political Economy, Economy and Society, plus the Review of International Political Economy, World Development and the Journal of Human Development. (2)

In addition, heterodox political economy has been supported by an array of publishers, conferences and academic institutions. Most academic and University publishing houses have a section in their catalogue on political economy. Some have an explicit mandate or interest in heterodox themes, such as Monthly Review Press, Zed Press, and Pluto Press. Commercial publishers that have been especially supportive include Edward Elgar, M.E. Sharpe, Greenwood, Transaction, Palgrave/Macmillan, Routledge and Cambridge. Conferences have blossomed, the main ones being associated with the Allied Social Science Associations, the Association for Institutional Thought, Post Keynesian Workshops, World Congress of Social Economics, the Association for Heterodox Economics, the summer conference of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE), the annual European Association for Evolutionary Economics meetings, and the Triennial International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE) Conference.

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