Constructing "the economy"

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (1):3-19 (2009)
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Economists study "The Economy," or so one might suppose. Yet this overarching entity is strikingly absent from mainstream theory. Since the 1950s, it has generally been described with a few mathematical propositions and not given a description that attends to institutions, power relations, or the emergent properties that form the leading indicators in macroeconomic theory. There is thus a significant divergence between folk economics and scientific economics on this theoretical entity. This article briefly addresses the history of this concept, noting its heyday in the interwar years, and brings to bear some of the analytical apparatus on institutional facts devised by John Searle. Whatever is meant by "The Economy" in folk economics appears to be significantly divergent from what is posited in scientific economics. Key Words: economy • Searle • theoretical entities • macroeconomics • economic indicators • folk economics.



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Margaret Schabas
University of British Columbia

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