Tag Archives: Hayek

‘The digression is the story’ (or how to read economics and Weber). An interview with Keith Tribe

Image result for the economy of the wordKeith Tribe’s academic work combines an original mix. Tribe is a recognized scholar in history of economics who has played a very important role in the dissemination and translation of the work of Wilhelm Hennis and Reinhart Koselleck in English speaking academic circles, and he is currently working on a new translation of Max Weber’s Economy and Society for Harvard University Press.

This interview was recorded in the context of his visit to Copenhagen Business School in 2016 (one of Tribe’s talk on that visit was recently published in this special section in Sociologica). In our conversation, Tribe kindly answered questions about his different academic interests. In the first two answers, he expands on the original method of analysis of economic ideas unfolded in his book The Economy of the Word: Language, History, and Economics (2015, Oxford University Press). The answers to questions 3, 4 and 5 are about Weber, particularly the strange role Hayek played in making the first English translation of Economy and Society, the contemporary relevance of Hennis’s interpretation, and a clarification about the long lasting confusion with the term “iron cage”. Continue reading

The concept of market (Part 2)

[El nombre de esta sección es “artículos en cuotas”. La idea es, como en una novela por entregas, ir subiendo partes de papers a medida que vayan saliendo. El texto abajo es un borrador de un artículo en el que trabajo. Presenté la primera versión en EGOS este año y esto que estoy subiendo acá es una segunda versión, pero aun, borrador y sin edición del inglés. Además de la introducción, el artículo se compondrá de cuatro secciones. Cada parte será una entrega que iré subiendo a medida que tenga las nuevas versiones listas. El texto abajo es la segunda entrega y la primera sección del artículo (ver acá la entrega anterior, la introducción). Como siempre, sugerencias son muy bienvenidas]

The concept of Market

José Ossandón, draft 4/12/2017

Concepts of markets after market design

The following extract is taken from a talk given by the winner of the 2012 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel and renowned market designer Alvin Roth:

‘So, first of all think about market design, because market design is an ancient human activity. But because markets are so pervasive we think them a little bit like language. Languages and markets are both human artifacts. But we don’t think of language as something we can change, but as something we get. I speak to you in English and I have to speak in the same kind of English that you speak, otherwise it wouldn’t work. Often we think of markets on that way too: markets just happen. But, of course, markets are human artifacts and market design is that engineering part of microeconomics, that part that fixes markets when they are broken or make new ones sometimes.’ [i]

Roth presents a constructivist approach. He emphasizes that markets are both, like language, a social product, and like other artifacts, the outcome of purposely applied technical knowledge. This description would easily fit recent sociological accounts of markets; but, it would appear as strange in the context of traditional conceptualizations of markets in economics.

A dominant position in the economic sciences of the second half of the 20th century conceived markets in opposition to organization. While organizations were associated to features such as planning, hierarchy, or centralized decision making; markets were seen as decentralized, spontaneous and even inherently non-designable entities. Continue reading

On ethnography, collaboration and social studies of finance besides performativity. An interview with Annelise Riles

Collateral KnowledgeAnnelise Riles’s (Professor of Law in Far East Legal Studies and Professor of Anthropology at Cornell) work is characterized by an intense and productive dialogue between law and anthropology. This results in a form of research which, simultaneously, brings legal reasoning to the center of the ethnographer’s concern (as an object of social scientific investigation) and makes this same reasoning a productive tool for anthropological inquiry. In this conversation carried out right after the workshop ‘Markets for Collective Concerns?’ held last December at Copenhagen Business School, Riles discusses her latest book on her long-term ethnographic work with financial regulators and lawyers in Japan, Collateral Knowledge, and her more recent articles on collaborative research. The interview was conducted by José Ossandón and Gustavo Onto helped elaborate the questions. Continue reading

Was Karl Polanyi a neoliberal?

Audio de la presentación que dio Philip Mirowski en la conferencia “Questioning the Utopian Spings of Market Economy” en la Universidad de Sídney. Controversial, como es costumbre, Mirowski explica que las ideas de Hayek y K. Polanyi sobre el mercado y sus límites comparten mucho más de lo que generalmente se esperaría.

“Entrepreneurs are violent. They operate without any kind of regime of justification, they just act”. An interview with Will Davies.

Will Davies is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics at Goldsmith, University of London where he also co-directs the newly created Political Economy Research Centre, and a prolific blogger. His recently published book The Limits Of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty And The Logic Of Competition examines the efforts paid by economic and innovation experts to model society in terms of competition. In this conversation we discuss the usefulness of the concepts developed by the recent sociology of critique to study the limits of neoliberalism and how the economic critique of the state has been employed precisely to legitimate, empower and expand the state.


Q1. TU. In the introduction of your book you mention that critics of neoliberalism will probably feel disappointed if they are expecting to find a sort of conspiracy theory being unveiled through your research. However, what your research does is to unveil the theoretical and ontological underpinning of competition and neoliberalism. But maybe I am missing part of your intentions. An introductory question: what were your initial hypotheses and/or motivations for studying competition and the rationality and authority of the neoliberal state?

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Is neoliberalism Weberian? An interview with Nicholas Gane

9780230242036Like a sociological detective of ideas, professor of sociology at the University of Warwick Nicholas Gane (2012, 2014 a, b) has been following the traces of social scientific thought in neoliberalism. The initial clue was given by Michel Foucault who in his Birth of Biopolitics argued that Max Weber’s work not only influenced critical theorists such as Adorno and Horkheimer but also one of the main branches within neoliberal thinking, German ordoliberalism. While Gane’s research ended up finding Foucault’s Weber-Ordoliberals connections rather thin, the investigation took him to an even more worrying result, namely, Weber’s influence on the work of Ludwig von Mises and his followers in Vienna, including the über neoliberal Friedrich Hayek. In this interview carried out at Warwick early June, Gane talks about his recent inquiry and its consequences. Continue reading

Economistas y mercados: entre gasfíter y maestros chasquillas

[Acaba de ser publicado el número especial ‘Travail des Économistes’ editado por Mariana Heredia para la revisa suiza Revue Économique et Sociale. Mariana encontró un muy buen formato, de textos breves, escritos a partir de preguntas que ella envío a cada uno de los autores. Algo así como un cruce entre entrevista y artículo. El número es en francés, pero, dado mi nulo manejo en la lengua de Descartes, escribí mi contribución primero en español. Considerando que corresponde a un tema de posible interés para los lectores de este blog, comparto acá el texto original inédito, que se enfoca en el rol de los economistas en los mercados como políticas públicas]

¿Cuál fue el discurso que acompaña a las reformas económica adoptadas en América Latina desde los años setenta?

Es importante tener en cuenta que lo que diga surge a partir de mi investigación (y experiencia personal) que se ha enfocado sobre el caso particular de Chile y no de toda América Latina. Considerando que a este país le tocó el no muy bien ponderado papel de ser el primer y más extremo caso de reformas neoliberales en el continente, lo que diga sobre Chile puede ser entendido como una versión exagerada de lo que ha ido pasando en otros países de la región. Sin embargo es importante también tener en cuenta que las reformas económicas no son simplemente el producto de doctrinas o ideologías que se difunden como un líquido de una nación a otra. Como han mostrado Bockman & Eyal (2002), Mitchell (2007) y Heredia (manuscrito), el conocimiento económico viaja a través de las redes nacionales e internacionales no sólo de las Universidades o economistas académicos, sino que también por agencias de gobierno, think tanks, la prensa, organismos multilaterales, etc., y en cada una de estas instancias es traducido y transformado. De esta forma, si bien las reformas económicas de América Latina desde fines de los 1970 pueden asociarse con la influencia de un tipo de doctrina económica particular su actualización y traducción práctica varía caso a caso.

Ahora, para empezar a responder de una buena vez. Para el caso de Chile, es importante distinguir entre dos tipos de reformas que se llevaron a cabo desde la ‘revolución neo-liberal’ iniciada en la dictadura de Pinochet. Continue reading

Are we witnessing the birth of a new type of economist-engineer (in charge of steering markets devised to deal with collective concerns)?

[A fines de febrero tuve la suerte de asistir a un workshop llevado a cabo en Copenhagen Business School para discutir los capítulos sobre la economía del libro An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns (AIME) de Bruno Latour, quien también participó en el taller. Para participar debíamos enviar un breve texto respondiendo o complementando alguno de los aspectos del proyecto iniciado en el libro. En este post comparto mi contribución, la que construí a partir del uso que Latour hace, de la idea propuesta por Timothy Mitchell, de que la economía es un invento reciente. A su vez, el post continúa varios de los temas que se han ido discutiendo en este blog]

Timothy Mitchell has made a thrilling suggestion: “The Economy” was not born until the mid XX century. With this he doesn’t deny, as shown for instance by Foucault in his Security, Territory and Population, that economists and political economy existed well before, but suggests that it was only in the mid XX century that the economy started to be seen as a whole that could be counted and called that way. Playing with Michel Callon’s terms, with the amazing growth of economic statistics that enabled counting, summarizing and inscribing the millions of transactions carried out in a given country, economists performed a calculable “Economy”.

The Economy described by Mitchell however does not correspond to any “economy” Continue reading

Mirowski y sus lecturas sobre neo-liberalismo

Dos muy recomendables posts de nuestro entrevistado de junio, Philip Mirowski, sobre el neoliberalismo. El primero reseña críticamente algunos libros recientes sobre el tema (Public Books) y el segundo resume, en 13 mandamientos, los postulados de su último libro (The Utopian). De muestra, la siguiente cita:

“With regard to the crisis, one wing of neoliberals has appealed to natural science concepts of “complexity” to suggest that markets transcend the very possibility of management of systemic risk.However, the presumed relationship of the market to nature tends to be substantially different under neoliberalism than under standard neoclassical theory. In brief, neoclassical theory has a far more static conception of market ontology than do the neoliberals. In neoclassical economics, many theoretical accounts portray the market as somehow susceptible to “incompleteness” or “failure,” generally due to unexplained natural attributes of the commodities traded: these are retailed under the rubric of “externalities,” “incomplete markets,” or other “failures.” Neoliberals conventionally reject all such recourse to defects or glitches, in favor of a narrative where evolution and/or “spontaneous order” brings the market to ever more complex states of self-realization, which may escape the ken of mere humans.  Continue reading

“Facebook teaches you how to be a neoliberal agent”. An interview with Philip Mirowski

Never_Let_a_Serious_Crisis_Go_to_Waste_300dpi_CMYK_VERSO_SITEPhil Mirowski is an historian of science and philosopher of economic thought at the University of Notre Dame. He has extensively written about economic and scientific knowledge, neoliberalism, and the current financial crisis, among other topics. He visited Cambridge last June to speak at the ECONPUBLIC workshop “Economic reason: intellectuals and think tanks in the late twenty century”, and I took this opportunity to interview him. Our conversation took place on June 27 in the backyard of the hotel where Mirowski was staying in the outskirts of Cambridge. The interview touches upon many topics of possible interest for readers (and listeners) of this blog, including the particular conception of markets in neoliberal economics, Hayek, anti public intellectuals, and a harsh criticism to the performativity thesis in finance studies. Many thanks to Tiago Mata and José Ossandón for helpful suggestions in preparing this interview.

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