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43.3 - Economists, Politics, and Society

HSR Vol. 43 (2018) No. 3: Special Issue: Economists, Politics, and Society. New Insights from Mapping Economic Practices Using Field-Analysis, ed. Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg & Frédéric Lebaron 

Economists have become a major “Trägerschicht” (carrier) of governmental knowledge in the 21st century, a development that has not only but also become apparent in the 2008 economic crisis and its aftermath. Since, interest in economists and economic knowledge as well as in the impact of either on politics, economics and society has not withered. This HSR Special Issue joins contributions by researchers that draw on the methodological work of Pierre Bourdieu to analyse these relationships. The approach allows to research developments of longue durée and their impact on current political and social events, using the concepts of field and habitus and focusing on the interlinking of individual trajectories and collective institutional histories. Contributions employ quantitative methods such as geometric data analysis and network analysis as well as qualitative interpretative methods to analyse biographical and textual data from a diverse set of national and transnational contexts. 

Research findings that are presented in this special issue fall into four main areas. First, the inner workings of academic economics is scrutinised focusing on issues of professional socialisation, changes in degree programmes and university teaching as well as the proliferation of specific research paradigms. Second, shifts in national fields of academic economists and their relationships to economic and state institutions are researched. Third, the role that economists and economic expertise played and still plays in the European crisis and post-crisis institutional refurbishing of the field of Eurocracy are analysed. Fourth, national elites’ struggles and the relationship between national fields of power and an ever more trans-nationalized academic field of economists are researched.