Economics Pluralism and student protests

Economics is growing pluralist again. Student protests since about 2013 are growing, furthering this trend. Professors have joined in (not all of them, of course). Economists of different methods and historical and theoretical approaches are acknowledging the importance of co-existence. Some have argued that co-existencefor alternative ecnomics with the mainstream is difficult for theories with such different epistemological and philosophical foundations.


The letter to Prof. Greg Mankiw at Harvard University and a staged walkout from his class some years ago was symptomatic of the malaise affecting economics students. They were convinced of the irrelevance (some argue the hubris of their professors) who ignored, sidelined, or incorrectly explained, even censored, wider academic discussion of the state of economics as a disciplline. Many student protests were about the narrowness of the curriculum, and its outdated readings and assignments, out of touch with the latest thinking in critical areas such of financial economics, technological change, ecological economics, feminist economics, and other areas. The Post-Crash Economics Society at the University of Manchester for instance, has constructively generated a Report "Economics, Education and Unlearning: Economics Education at the University of Manchester".

TCLab's focus on technological change covers the shifts in the discipline alongside. After all, technological change represents perhaps the fast growing area of an alternative economics. It has generated scholarship critical of a mainstream that has attempted to explain away complex, dynamic growth phenomena in simplistic terms of statics and equilibrium. Mainstream economics has for the most part also had poor attention to actual economic phenomena of technological change in industries, firms, and in learning.

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This is a controversial and troubling question for nations and citizens (especially if they are feeling insecure). But daily reality brings more important questions than this: the need to find food, shelter, and preserve or improve one’s health. “Development” in the abstract is a little distracting if it doesn’t speak directly to these essential concerns. Are developed societies those with healthy citizens and residents?

The challenges of running economic governance via the nation-state are many. Especially in a world where technological change is moving about the institutions and production sites we have taken as the foundation of these nation-states.

City and Regional governments are becoming more important (in some cases again), especially evident in the EU, in South Asia, and in famed examples such as secession-prone Quebec or new sub-national states such as Telengana.

But health technologies have indeed transformed the industry, allowed several developing countries immense gains in healthcare, and for most industrilizing economies, opportunity for patients and welfre states to buy into wider technology options.

See TCLab-related research on the health industry, where industrial policy plays a critical role in how cheap or expensive healthcare is. Read the award-winning book Market Menagerie by Smita Srinivas.

About the Book

The Routledge Companion to Planning in the Global South offers an edited collection on planning in parts of the world which, more often than not, are unrecognised or unmarked in mainstream planning texts. In doing so, its intention is not to fill a ‘gap’ that leaves this ‘mainstream’ unquestioned but to re-theorise planning from a deep understanding of ‘place’ as well as a commitment to recognise the diverse modes of practice that come within it.