Historical Social Research

Mariana Heredia: The International Division of Labor in Economists’ Field. Academic Subordination in Exchange for Political Prerogatives in Argentina. [Abstract]

Since the 1970s, economics has emerged as a global profession, with economists becoming main characters of the intellectual and political life in many countries. Inspired by Bourdieu, several analyses faced the challenge of “theorizing fields beyond the nation-state” (Buchholz 2016). Some scholars emphasized that internationalization entailed a growing asymmetry between dominant and dominated participants: the former acting as “exporters” and the latter as “importers” of ideas (Dezalay and Garth 2002). Others pointed out the process of “creative destruction” that accompanied the globalization of local fields (Fourcade 2006). Finally, still others noted the emergence of a new field of globalized experts and think tanks (Medvetz 2012). Through a socio-historical depiction of economists in Argentina, we problematize the subordinated role of peripheral economists. Rather than a dominant-dominated logic, we identify a new international division of labor. Based on more than 60 interviews with economists, archival research, and statistical analyses, this paper shows that while a dependent position in the global academic field reduced Argentinian economists’ theoretical autonomy, it gave them the scientific authority that in turn paved the road to access very well-paid work as consultants and high-level public servants.

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