Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

Editor's Introduction

Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

Editor's Introduction

Article excerpt

This July issue begins with a Remembrance and Appreciation article in honor of Professor Lynn Turgeon, who died in 1999. A photograph of Turgeon taken toward the end of his life is included as a frontispiece to this issue.

Turgeon's career overlapped the entire Gold War period and included at least part of the "transition process" following the collapse of the USSR in 1991. His writings represent a Keynesian-style approach to the comparison of how the Soviet-style economy functioned compared with the U.S.-style market system. In Turgeon's view, the Soviet economy and its Eastern European variants had virtues that were worthy of praise. At times he seemed "pro-Soviet"-- never at a loss to find good things to say about this variant of socialism. He denied the claim that some made that the two systems in the process of converging would end up looking alike.

Turgeon is not usually mentioned in the standard histories of John Maynard Keynes's life and work. He did not study directly at Cambridge University, England during the 1930s and was not part of the "Cambridge circus" that included Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor. Still, Turgeon did come under the influence of the American Keynesian Alvin Hansen. In addition, Turgeon worked with the Sovietologist Abram Bergson at the Rand Corporation during the 1950s and through Bergson developed a lifelong interest in the fledgling post-World War II field of "comparative economic systems."

The co-authors in this issue now try to set the record straight by offering a sketch of his "Keynesianism." Most interestingly, they were touched in different ways by Turgeon the man but each came to admire his work at different times and for different reasons. Robert N. Horn was a student of Turgeon at Hofstra University on Long Island during the early 1970s and remained a close friend of Turgeon during the remaining decades of his life. It was Horn who introduced Barkley Rosser to Turgeon. Turgeon was a frequent traveler to Russia and Eastern Europe and, while on a Fulbright teaching scholarship in Moscow, introduced Barkley Rosser to his wife, Marina, who was then living in Moscow and a Russian citizen. Turgeon helped the young couple navigate the ocean of legal requirements that were in place in 1987 to help Marina emigrate to America to join her finance and begin married life together.

Another co-author is Tim Canova who considered Turgeon his "mentor" although they met only after Canova had completed his graduate training and worked with Turgeon as a co-author. Finally, Ric Holt met Turgeon most recently in 1996, only a few years before Turgeon's death. Turgeon was invited to Southern Oregon University to give invited lectures and met Holt, who was on the faculty. In his last years, Turgeon wanted "his story told" and invited Holt to visit him at his home in the San Francisco area. Holt spent several days with Turgeon, took notes, and what he learned is now included in this essay. The AJES is grateful to this group of diverse scholars for capturing in a single essay what "Keynesian economics" meant to at least one American economist during the controversional Gold War period.

Next, David Dequech offers an exploratory essay about the relationship between economics and sociology. Although not a fan of rational choice theory, Dequech complains that economists sometimes use the term "uncertainty" to refer to what sociologists mean by "complexity. …

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