Article

The Power of Ideas. The Teaching of Economics and its Image of Man

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Abstract

Economics as a science not only investigates what is (as a positive science) and what should be (as a normative science), but influences, through its fundamental ideas, what facts and norms are recognized as such in society. This holds especially true for economic education. My article explains this thesis and elaborates, in particular, how this form of education stipulates a particular vision of human beings worldwide. First, I show how economics actively seeks to influence the inscription of the commonplace image of the human through economics education. Second, I discuss economics as a textbook science in Thomas Kuhn?s sense: as a science incapable of giving the students any plural or critical understanding of their self and the world. In the third step, I identify the essential features of the human image lying at the base of the economic curriculum; an image (so I argue), which splits society into mere cogs in the machine of the economy on the one side and omnipotent social engineers on the other side.

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... Economics; economics education; feminist economics; neoclassical economics; critical economics; feminism; standards This article attempts to expose the sexism inherent in a particular paradigm of a prominent social science: economics. Prevailing assumptions in economics education are founded on the neoclassical paradigm (Fine, 2008;Freeman, 2010), which scholars have critiqued for its problematic conceptions about human nature (Graupe, 2012), the role of markets (R. Miller, 1993), and social values (Lutz & Lux, 1988;Remmele, 2011). Included in these problematic assumptions are conceptions of "economic man" as an individual, rational actor who pursues his own self-interest (Graupe, 2012;Nelson, 2006) and the idea that an unencumbered market is the ideal way to coordinate these interests (Blanchard & Coléno, 2016;Mikl-Horke, 2010). ...
... Prevailing assumptions in economics education are founded on the neoclassical paradigm (Fine, 2008;Freeman, 2010), which scholars have critiqued for its problematic conceptions about human nature (Graupe, 2012), the role of markets (R. Miller, 1993), and social values (Lutz & Lux, 1988;Remmele, 2011). Included in these problematic assumptions are conceptions of "economic man" as an individual, rational actor who pursues his own self-interest (Graupe, 2012;Nelson, 2006) and the idea that an unencumbered market is the ideal way to coordinate these interests (Blanchard & Coléno, 2016;Mikl-Horke, 2010). Further, neoclassical theory assumes that the market can be studied with all the accuracy and confidence of the physical sciences (Rosenbaum, 2000) and, thus, policy decisions can be made with all the confidence of mathematic exactitude (Bresser-Pereira, 2012). ...
Article
This article outlines core tenets of feminist economics and contrasts these tenets with traditional neoclassical economic assumptions about human nature, value, markets, inequality, and power. Further, it challenges the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics and the C3 Framework for their exclusion of any perspective beyond the neoclassical paradigm while exposing the deleterious consequences of this paradigm, including its promotion of neoliberal policies; its opposition to democratic ideals; its exclusion of topics related to race, class, and gender; and its problematic assertions about human welfare. The article concludes with alternative ways of thinking about economics that might encourage teachers to question the prevailing neoclassical dominant narrative with a feminist counter narrative.
... Neoclassical economics hinges on 'man', or homo economicus, as both "a self-interested utility maximizer *and+ rational agent" (Lutz & Lux, 1988, p. 104) and a robotic operator within the technical functioning of the market (Graupe, 2012). This reifies notions of individualism over collectivism (Remmele, 2010(Remmele, , 2011, and denies the agency of social institutions, interpersonal relationships, and communal processes and systems (Hunt, 2005). ...
... The in-class work focused on telling stories with economics, and included preservice teacher-generated stories, an exploration of the content knowledge necessary to teach their story, an overview of the Council for Economic Education's (2010) Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics, and a discussion on their perceived pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge in economics including a survey of the Standards where they indicated their familiarity with each of the twenty standards and their ability to teach it. The second class assigned Graupe's (2012) piece that troubles the neoclassical perspective on man, and assigned each individual to read about an economic perspective on the Network for Pluralist Economics' (n.d.) website that outlines each perspective's core elements, terminology, ontology, epistemology, and methodology. The in-class activities involved teaching three core components of economics (Law of demand, fiscal policy, and income) via modeling traditional, neoclassical methods. ...
Article
Neil Graham Shanks Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate one effort to challenge the problematic assumptions of the dominant narrative of neoclassical economics within a teacher preparation program that focuses on addressing dominant narratives throughout the social studies curriculum. Design/methodology/approach: Utilizing a theoretical framework that intersects Pedagogical Content Knowledge and pluralist economics, this study consists of a general interpretive study conducted in a master’s plus certification social studies methods course. Data was collected from several class sessions, including observational and artifact data, as well as semi-structured interviews with participants after the conclusion of the class. Findings: Preservice teachers were able to spell out a dominant narrative in economics that exposed the effect of the narrative, but rarely critiqued its epistemology. Second, the fluctuations in content and curricular knowledge as well as the broader challenge of explaining pluralism in a relevant way meant the observed pedagogical content knowledge in economics was devoid of pluralist content. Research limitations/implications: Implications from this study include the need to explicitly critique the epistemological foundations of neoclassical theory, the value of an appreciative stances toward preservice teacher content knowledge, and the need to strategically integrate pluralism into economics methods courses.
... While Edward Lazear is not representative for all orthodox economists, one can say that orthodoxy is on the level of theory a monist enterprise as it is above all defined by its very method (Dow 2004, Mäki 2009). While this methodological monism must not hold true for the whole discourse (Davis 2006, Hands 2013, it seems to fit the way economics is taught to young scholars (Graupe 2012). ...
... The lack of historical awareness and awareness of alternative perspectives often leads to a degeneration of young scholars into dogmatists, if they do not take voluntary extra courses (Hodgson 2001, Ötsch & Kapellar 2010, Graupe 2012). ...
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... Most of the basic orientations, among them the one addressed in this paper, were found in all of the groups analyzed [2]. This meta-finding can possibly be linked to the magnitude of standardization in economics education (Graupe, 2012). From the various orientations established, the following will concentrate on only one. ...
Chapter
Die Studierenden der Volkswirtschaftslehre erleben Inhalte und Form ihres Studiums als entfernt von dem, was sie als Realität der Wirtschaft erachten – ein weiterer Aspekt, wie theoretische Kritiken an der Neoklassik einen Widerhall in den Erlebniswirklichkeiten von Studierenden finden.
... The overwhelming adherence to the neoclassical paradigm in K-12 economics education (Adams, 2019a) is problematic for many of the reasons that dominant narratives in history and geography education are problematic. Too often, the neoclassical analysis ignores the role of race and gender in the economy (Feiner, 1994;Ferber & Nelson, 2003;King & Finley, 2015), glorifies individualism (Arnsperger & Varoufakis, 2006), asserts humans are pleasure-seeking machines (Bener ıa et al., 2016;Graupe, 2012), and fetishizes the market (Blanchard & Col eno, 2016;Jo et al., 2012) such that social provisioning is preordained (Rai & Waylen, 2013;Strober, 1994). Questioning the role of neoclassical economics is vital for social studies teachers and teacher educators who wish to employ critical perspectives in K-12 social studies that address the racist, sexist, and neoliberal structures of American society. ...
Article
This paper considers the implications of the neoclassical dominant narrative in economics education and conceptualizes specific responses that teachers and teacher educators can take to promote a humanizing economics pedagogy. I briefly describe alternative economic paradigms and contrast them with neoclassical fundamentals. Then, I include economic lesson ideas to showcase ways to teach traditional economic content in ways that attend to neoclassicism but expand the potential of the discipline into new paradigms. By interrogating the fundamentals of neoclassical economics, students and teachers of economics can use these new economic paradigms to foster a counternarrative that is more critical and humanizing and can help address the prevailing themes of an era marked by systemic oppression.
... Most of the basic orientations, among them the one addressed in this paper, were found in all of the groups analyzed [2]. This meta-finding can possibly be linked to the magnitude of standardization in economics education (Graupe, 2012). From the various orientations established, the following will concentrate on only one. ...
Article
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Purpose The global financial crisis led to increasing distrust in economic research and the economics profession, in the process of which the current state of economics and economic education in particular were heavily criticized. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to conduct a study with undergraduate students of economics in order to capture their view of economic education. Design/methodology/approach The paper is based on the documentary method, a qualitative empirical method, which combines maximum openness with regard to the collection of empirical material coupled with maximum rigor in analysis. Findings The empirical findings show that students enter economics curricula with epistemic, practical or moral/political motivations for understanding and dealing with real-world problems but end up remarkably disappointed after going through the mathematical and methods-orientated introductory courses. The findings further indicate that students develop strategies to cope with their disappointment – all of them relating to their original motivation. The theoretical contextualization of the empirical findings is based on the psychological concept of cognitive dissonance. Social implications A socially and politically responsible economic education, however, should provide students guidance in understanding current and prospective economic challenges, thereby enabling them to become informed and engaged citizens. Therefore, it is essential that the students’ criticism of the current state of economic education be taken seriously and BA programs reformed accordingly. Originality/value The originality of this paper lies in the application of a qualitative methodology and explicit focus on the student perspective on economics education. The study provides empirical evidence for a lack of real-world orientation in economics education.
Article
The article investigates the contentious relationship between economics and social studies and considers the extent to which the dominant narratives and methodological approaches in economics are compatible with ambitious views of equity in civics education. Tensions between social studies and economics are described. These include differing views on the role of government, democracy, and equality, as well as economics’ “imperious mindset” (Heilbroner, 1991, p. 463). After identifying these tensions, the article devotes significant space to recent scholarship that can bridge the civics-economics divide and introduce the kind of equity work being called for in social studies education.
Book
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Presentation
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Chapter
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Chapter
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Bevor wir uns in den nächsten Kapiteln mit den konkreten Rahmenbedingungen dieser Studie auseinandersetzen und dann zu den empirischen Ergebnissen kommen, werden in diesem Kapitel die zentralen Aspekte unseres methodischen Zugangs umrissen und das qualitative Forschungsdesign der Studie vorgestellt.
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