Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Economics and Political Economy Today: Introduction to the Symposium on Fine and Milonakis

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the Brill platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites

image of Historical Materialism

Abstract Economics has long been the ‘dismal science’. The crisis in classical political economy at the end of the nineteenth century produced radically differing intellectual responses: Marx’s reconstitution of value theory on the basis of his dialectical method, the marginalists’ development of subjective value theory, and the historical school’s advocacy of inductive and historical reasoning. It is against this background that economics was established as a discrete academic discipline, consciously modelling itself on maths and physics and developing its focus on theorising exchange. This entailed extraordinary reductionism, with humans regarded as rational, self-interested actors, and class, society, history and ‘the social’ being excised from economic analysis. On the basis of this narrowing of its concerns, particularly from the 1980s onwards, economics has sought to expand its sphere of influence through a form of imperialism which seeks to apply mainstream economic approaches to other social sciences and sees economics as ‘the universal grammar of social science’. The implications of this shift are discussed in Ben Fine and Dimitris Milonakis’s two volumes, where they analyse the fate of the social, the political and the historical in economic thought, and assess the future for an inter-disciplinary critique of economic reason.

1. Becker Gary S. The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour 1976 Chicago Chicago University Press
2. Blaug Mark "‘The Formalist Revolution of the 1950s’" Journal of the History of Economic Thought 2003 Vol 25 2 145 156
3. Callinicos Alex "‘Book Review: From Political Economy to Economics’ " Science and Society 2011 Vol 75 2 267 269
4. Carlyle Thomas "‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’" 1849 available at: < >
5. Clarke Simon Marx, Marginalism and Modern Sociology: From Adam Smith to Max Weber 1982 Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillan
6. Coase Ronald H. "‘Economics and Contiguous Disciplines’" Journal of Legal Studies 1978 Vol 7 2 201 211
7. Davis John B. The Theory of the Individual in Economics: Identity and Value 2003 London Routledge
8. Fine Ben , Milonakis Dimitris From Economics Imperialism to Freakonomics: The Shifting Boundaries between Economics and Other Social Sciences 2009 London Routledge
9. Fine Ben , Milonakis Dimitris "‘“Useless but True”: Economic Crisis and the Peculiarities of Economic Science’" Historical Materialism 2011 Vol 19 2 3 31
10. Fullbrook Edward The Crisis in Economics: The Post-Autistic Economics Movement. The First 600 Days 2003 London Routledge
11. Hodgson Geoff How Economics Forgot History: The Problem of Historical Specificity in Social Science 2001 London Routledge
12. Hodgson Geoff "‘Sickonomics: Diagnoses and Remedies’" Review of Social Economy 2011 Vol 69 3 357 376
13. King John E. "‘Marx as an Historian of Economic Thought’" History of Political Economy 1979 Vol 11 3 382 394
14. Lee Fred "‘The Research Assessment Exercise, the State and the Dominance of Mainstream Economics in British Universities’" Cambridge Journal of Economics 2007 Vol 31 2 309 325
15. Louçã Francisco Turbulence in Economics: An Evolutionary Appraisal of Cycles and Complexity in Historical Processes 1997 Cheltenham Edward Elgar
16. Marx Karl Theories of Surplus-Value 1863 available at: < >
17. Milonakis Dimitris , Fine Ben From Political Economy to Economics: Method, the Social and the Historical in the Evolution of Economic Theory 2009 London Routledge
18. Tabb William K. Reconstructing Political Economy: The Great Divide in Economic Thought 1999 London Routledge
19. FN1 1. Carlyle 1849.
20. FN2 2. The lengthiest discussion of which is contained in Marx 1863. See also King 1979.
21. FN3 3. Fullbrook (ed.) 2003; Lee 2007.
22. FN4 4. For a different account, see Hodgson 2011.
23. FN5 5. Milonakis and Fine 2009, p. 95.
24. FN6 6. Louçã 1997.
25. FN7 7. Blaug 2003.
26. FN8 8. Fine and Milonakis 2009; Milonakis and Fine 2009. See also Fine and Milonakis 2011.
27. FN9 9. See the Preface to Fine and Milonakis 2009.
28. FN10 10. Interestingly, as recognised by Coase 1978.
29. FN11 11. Becker 1976.
30. FN12 12. Fine and Milonakis 2009, p. 14.
31. FN13 13. Ibid.
32. FN14 14. There are other accounts of this sorry story, or at least of its constituent parts. For example, see Clarke 1982; Davis 2003; Fullbrook (ed.) 2003; Hodgson 2001; Tabb 1999.
33. FN15 15. In Milonakis and Fine 2009 and Fine and Milonakis 2009 respectively.
34. FN16 16. See Callinicos 2011.

Article metrics loading...


Affiliations: 1: University of Johannesburg


Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Historical Materialism — Recommend this title to your library

    Thank you

    Your recommendation has been sent to your librarian.

  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation