Economists and Societies is the first book to systematically compare the profession of economics in the United States, Britain, and France, and to explain why economics, far from being a uniform science, differs in important ways among these three countries. Drawing on in-depth interviews with economists, institutional analysis, and a wealth of scholarly evidence, Marion Fourcade traces the history of economics in each country from the late nineteenth century to the present, demonstrating how each political, cultural, and institutional context gave rise to a distinct professional and disciplinary configuration. She argues that because the substance of political life varied from country to country, people's experience and understanding of the economy, and their political and intellectual battles over it, crystallized in different ways--through scientific and mercantile professionalism in the United States, public-minded elitism in Britain, and statist divisions in France. Fourcade moves past old debates about the relationship between culture and institutions in the production of expert knowledge to show that scientific and practical claims over the economy in these three societies arose from different elites with different intellectual orientations, institutional entanglements, and social purposes.
Much more than a history of the economics profession, Economists and Societies is a revealing exploration of American, French, and British society and culture as seen through the lens of their respective economic institutions and the distinctive character of their economic experts.
[O]ne of my favorite history of economic thought books, period. It skips textual exegesis and looks at what the economics profession actually did. . . . Definitely recommended."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
"Fourcade has produced a remarkable book. . . . Her 52-page bibliography should be evidence enough of the remarkable effort that went into this book."--M. Perelman, Choice
"In-depth and well-informed comparative analyses of cross-country differences in the practice and conceptualization of economics are few in number; hence, Fourcade's book is a welcome and valuable addition to the literature. Certainly it is an impressive product for a young scholar."--Bruce E. Kaufman, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal
"[T]his excellent book is a major contribution to the literatures on the professions, sociology of knowledge, economic and political sociology, and comparative political economy insofar as it offers a penetrating look into the relationship between ideas and institutions."--Andrew Roberts, American Journal of Sociology
"Fourcade's detailed argumentation, and her use of a clear and direct language far removed from what economists like to trivialize as 'sociologisms,' makes this work an important one for both economists and historians of economics. Historians of the social sciences, and of science more generally, will find this work to be invaluable in their own attempts to contextualize post-World War II scientific practice. I note, finally, the excellent typography and production values exhibited in this work. Princeton University Press has done very well by both the author and the reader."--E. Roy Weintraub, Business History Review
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