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Disciplined reasoning : Styles of reasoning and the mainstream-heterodoxy divide in Swedish economics

Hylmö, Anders LU (2018)
Abstract
Economics is one of the most influential social science disciplines, with a high level of internal consent around a common theoretical and methodological approach to economic analysis. However, marginalised schools of thought have increasingly unified under the term “heterodox” economics, with their critical stance towards the “neoclassical mainstream” as common denominator. This has spawned debates among scholars about how to understand the nature of the mainstream-heterodoxy divide in economics.
This thesis sets out to explain how such a common approach to science is generalised and stabilised in modern economics, and how this process is related to heterodoxy. Grounded in the sociology of science, it aims first to provide an... (More)
Economics is one of the most influential social science disciplines, with a high level of internal consent around a common theoretical and methodological approach to economic analysis. However, marginalised schools of thought have increasingly unified under the term “heterodox” economics, with their critical stance towards the “neoclassical mainstream” as common denominator. This has spawned debates among scholars about how to understand the nature of the mainstream-heterodoxy divide in economics.
This thesis sets out to explain how such a common approach to science is generalised and stabilised in modern economics, and how this process is related to heterodoxy. Grounded in the sociology of science, it aims first to provide an empirical account of the mainstream-heterodoxy dynamics in Swedish economics, and second, to contribute to theory development. Drawing on the literature on distinct styles of reasoning in the history of science, I develop a theoretical framework of relational disciplinary styles of reasoning, which is used to analyse two bodies of empirical material from Swedish economics. The first is an in-depth interview study with researchers in economics, and the second is a document study of expert evaluation reports from the hiring of professors of economics at four of the top Swedish universities during 25 years. Through the two empirical studies, the fine-grained qualitative material provides an insight into the ways economists understand their discipline and the character of proper knowledge production.
I argue that the mainstream-heterodoxy divide is fruitfully understood in terms of the institutionalised stabilisation of a disciplinary style of reasoning, and show how economists understand their scientific approach and its merits. The maintenance of the style of reasoning is the achievement of the thought collective of economists, where boundaries are constructed in relation to contesting heterodox economics and to other scientific disciplines. I show how the disciplinary style with its conception of good science and the notion of a core of the discipline is linked to the reproduction of disciplinary boundaries. I trace how this plays out through shifting quality evaluation practices, and show how top journal rankings have become a powerful judgement device which links the hierarchical ranking of top journals to the notion of a disciplinary core, and effectively functions as a mechanism of disciplinary stabilisation.
In conclusion, I argue that these processes form a self-stabilising system in which the disciplinary style of reasoning and its boundaries is reproduced, with potential implications for how we understand intellectual dynamics and pluralism. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Nationalekonomin är en av de mest inflytelserika samhällsvetenskapliga disciplinerna. Utmärkande för den är stort internt samförstånd kring en viss teoretisk och metodologisk ansats till ekonomisk analys. Det finns emellertid också marginaliserade idéströmningar, som i allt högre grad kommit att förenas under samlingsbegreppet ”heterodox” ekonomi. Ett kritiskt förhållningssätt till den ”neoklassiska mittfåran” utgör här den gemensamma nämnaren. Forskarna debatterar hur klyftan mellan mittfåra och heterodoxi inom nationalekonomin ska förstås.
Denna avhandling ger sig i kast med att förklara hur en gemensam ansats inom den moderna nationalekonomin generaliseras och stabiliseras, och hur denna process är kopplad till heterodox ekonomi.... (More)
Nationalekonomin är en av de mest inflytelserika samhällsvetenskapliga disciplinerna. Utmärkande för den är stort internt samförstånd kring en viss teoretisk och metodologisk ansats till ekonomisk analys. Det finns emellertid också marginaliserade idéströmningar, som i allt högre grad kommit att förenas under samlingsbegreppet ”heterodox” ekonomi. Ett kritiskt förhållningssätt till den ”neoklassiska mittfåran” utgör här den gemensamma nämnaren. Forskarna debatterar hur klyftan mellan mittfåra och heterodoxi inom nationalekonomin ska förstås.
Denna avhandling ger sig i kast med att förklara hur en gemensam ansats inom den moderna nationalekonomin generaliseras och stabiliseras, och hur denna process är kopplad till heterodox ekonomi. Ansatsen är vetenskapssociologisk och syftet för det första att empiriskt framställa mittfårans och heterodoxins dynamik inom svensk nationalekonomi, för det andra att bidra till teoriutvecklingen.
Med utgångspunkt i den vetenskapshistoriska litteraturen om vetenskapliga stilar utvecklar jag ett teoretiskt ramverk kring relationella disciplinära vetenskapliga stilar. Utifrån detta analyserar jag två typer av empiriskt material från svensk nationalekonomi. Den första studien bygger på djupintervjuer med forskare inom nationalekonomi, den andra på sakkunnigutlåtanden från tillsättningar av professurer i nationalekonomi vid fyra ledande svenska universitet under tjugofem år. Det detaljerade empiriska materialet i dessa två delstudier bidrar med kunskap om hur ekonomer uppfattar sin disciplin och vad som karakteriserar riktig kunskapsproduktion.
Jag menar att det är fruktbart att förstå klyftan mellan mittfåran och heterodoxin som en fråga om hur en vetenskaplig stil blir institutionellt stabiliserad. Jag visar hur ekonomer förstår sin vetenskapliga ansats och dess förtjänster. Den vetenskapliga stilen upprätthålls genom ekonomernas tankekollektiv samt genom byggandet av gränser mot rivaliserande heterodox ekonomi och mot andra vetenskapliga discipliner. Jag visar hur den disciplinära stilen med dess uppfattning av god vetenskap och idé om disciplinens kärna är knuten till de disciplinära gränsernas reproduktion. Jag pekar på hur detta kommer till uttryck genom föränderliga kvalitetsbedömningspraktiker, och jag visar hur nationalekonomiska tidskriftsrankningar har blivit ett kraftfullt bedömningsverktyg – som kopplar samman den hierarkiska rankningen av topptidskrifter med idén om en disciplinär kärna och därigenom fungerar som en mekanism för disciplinär stabilisering.
Sammanfattningsvis argumenterar jag för att dessa processer bildar ett självstabiliserande system där den disciplinära vetenskapliga stilen och dess gränser reproduceras, vilket kan ha följder för vår förståelse av intellektuell dynamik och pluralism. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Associate professor Popp Berman, Elizabeth, University at Albany, USA
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sociology of economics, heterodox economics, styles of reasoning, disciplinarity, quality evaluation, ekonomisociologi, heterodox ekonomi, vetenskapliga stilar, vetenskapliga discipliner, kvalitetsbedömning
pages
345 pages
publisher
Lund University
defense location
Eden auditorium, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund
defense date
2018-09-28 10:15:00
ISSN
1102-4712
ISBN
978-91-7753-788-5
language
English
LU publication?
yes
additional info
Date: 2018-09-28 Time: 10:15 Place: Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Popp Berman, Elizabeth Title: Associate professor Affiliation: University at Albany, USA
id
cc58fc36-aafa-4932-a3dd-f283e067d574
date added to LUP
2018-09-04 15:55:00
date last changed
2019-09-08 14:53:01
@phdthesis{cc58fc36-aafa-4932-a3dd-f283e067d574,
  abstract     = {Economics is one of the most influential social science disciplines, with a high level of internal consent around a common theoretical and methodological approach to economic analysis. However, marginalised schools of thought have increasingly unified under the term “heterodox” economics, with their critical stance towards the “neoclassical mainstream” as common denominator. This has spawned debates among scholars about how to understand the nature of the mainstream-heterodoxy divide in economics.<br/>This thesis sets out to explain how such a common approach to science is generalised and stabilised in modern economics, and how this process is related to heterodoxy. Grounded in the sociology of science, it aims first to provide an empirical account of the mainstream-heterodoxy dynamics in Swedish economics, and second, to contribute to theory development. Drawing on the literature on distinct styles of reasoning in the history of science, I develop a theoretical framework of relational disciplinary styles of reasoning, which is used to analyse two bodies of empirical material from Swedish economics. The first is an in-depth interview study with researchers in economics, and the second is a document study of expert evaluation reports from the hiring of professors of economics at four of the top Swedish universities during 25 years. Through the two empirical studies, the fine-grained qualitative material provides an insight into the ways economists understand their discipline and the character of proper knowledge production.<br/>I argue that the mainstream-heterodoxy divide is fruitfully understood in terms of the institutionalised stabilisation of a disciplinary style of reasoning, and show how economists understand their scientific approach and its merits. The maintenance of the style of reasoning is the achievement of the thought collective of economists, where boundaries are constructed in relation to contesting heterodox economics and to other scientific disciplines. I show how the disciplinary style with its conception of good science and the notion of a core of the discipline is linked to the reproduction of disciplinary boundaries. I trace how this plays out through shifting quality evaluation practices, and show how top journal rankings have become a powerful judgement device which links the hierarchical ranking of top journals to the notion of a disciplinary core, and effectively functions as a mechanism of disciplinary stabilisation. <br/>In conclusion, I argue that these processes form a self-stabilising system in which the disciplinary style of reasoning and its boundaries is reproduced, with potential implications for how we understand intellectual dynamics and pluralism.},
  author       = {Hylmö, Anders},
  isbn         = {978-91-7753-788-5},
  issn         = {1102-4712},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Disciplined reasoning : Styles of reasoning and the mainstream-heterodoxy divide in Swedish economics},
  url          = {https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/51193967/Hylmo_2018_Disciplined_reasoning_Digital.pdf},
  year         = {2018},
}