Semantic codes constitute the world (or parts of it), not in a mechanistic “cause-and-effect” sense but through another type of linkage. This article explores some of the semantic code, the “semantic DNA,” of mainstream neoclassical economic development policy thinking and writing and looks at what that mode of thinking incorporates into its discourse as “social.” The various forms of the “social” in economics discourse add up, from a sociologist’s viewpoint, to disappointingly little: they mainly consist of a miscellaneous set of noneconomic aspects that mainstream economic thinking can use to blame for the policy-performance gap between what such thinking promises and what it often actually delivers.
Seventeen Sightings of the “Social” in Economic Development Policy Writing
James G. Carrier
Recently anthropology has experienced an intellectual crisis of confidence, a sense that the discipline has lost its way, and an institutional crisis, a loss of resources following the financial crisis. Together, these crises provide a perspective that helps us to make sense of what preceded them. This article argues that both crises are signs of the failure of the neoliberalism that rose to prominence in the 1980s, both as a foundation for public policy and as an important, though unrecognized, influence on elements in anthropological thought. It focuses on that influence. It does so by describing some of the changes in anthropological orientation since the 1980s. Prime among these are the loss of disciplinary authority, the solidification of the focus on culture at the expense of a focus on society, and the rejection of systemic theories of social and cultural order. It is argued that, together, these changes have left anthropologists with no critical perspective on the world, just as the ascendance of neoclassical economics left economists with no such critical perspective.
Theorizing the Social
According to Leisering in his editorial in this journal, the idea of the “social” not only concerns social services as found in textbooks on social policy, it also “reflects a culturally entrenched notion of the relationship between state and society – a recognition of the tension between the ideal of political equality and socio-economic inequality, and of a collective responsibility by the state for identifying and redressing social problems” (Leisering 2013: 12). Theorizing “social quality” began in Europe at the end of the 1990s, in reaction to the increasing tendency to reduce the European Union’s operation to an “economic project.” In an ideological sense this reduction was legitimated by decoupling the economic dimension from the socio-political and sociocultural dimensions and leaving the latter two to the authority of the EU member states. The presupposition on the part of neoclassical economics and mainstream political and sociological studies of a duality between “the economic” and “the social” paved the way for this move. Therefore social quality scholars started to theorise ‘the social’ anew to go beyond the duality of the economic and the social In practice, nation-based policies became subordinated to the European-oriented financial and economic politics and policies that were being used to address the globalization of production and reproduction relationships (Beck et al. 1997). This shift became seriously strengthened by the revolutionary development and application of new communication technologies.
Karen M. Sykes and Felix Stein
of Gudeman’s scholarship into an original model of economic activity, which differs explicitly from conventional accounts of neoclassical economics and political economy. Drawing on his research with marginalized groups in Panama and the highlands of
the ‘economistic fallacy’ as the Smithian ‘error’ imbibed by neoclassical economics of ‘equating the human economy in general with its market form’ ( Polanyi 1977: 6 ). In making their case for the historical specificity of capitalism, both Graeber and
Insights gained from a cross-border perspective
Alejandro Yáñez-Arancibia and John W. Day
of absolute scarcity and infinite substitutability central to neoclassical economics are fundamentally flawed will no longer work in an age of growing scarcity and climate change. Humans live with the same basic rules as all our fellow species on
MOOCs, academic labour and the future of the university
Michael A. Peters
double perspectives help to clarify the value and meaning to be accorded to the notion of ‘labor’, and specifically to ‘digital labor’? Is there a challenge inherent in new forms of social cooperation in digital networks to classical and neoclassical
A Model Reconsidered
and practices, arguing that German experiences showed what not to do. Based on understandings of causality associated with neoclassical economics and public choice theory, 22 moral commitments to individual responsibility 23 and skepticism of human