As I continue to learn and grow, both as a scholar and as a human being, I periodically update my understanding of what “economics” is, and consequently what I am (and should be) doing by studying it.
This page is a changelog of my past and present working definitions.
- [Adopted 01-2021] “…the study of human relations in, around, and despite modern capitalist systems.”
[Adopted 05-2020] “…the study of human interactions as facilitated by the economy.”
- Inspired by encounters with pluralist economics, which led me to realize that what sets economics apart from other social sciences (at least definitionally) is not any one method, but rather its focus on the economy as an object of study.
- Revised because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led me to (belatedly) realize that the economy as it stands today is neither the best nor the only way of organizing human society.
[Adopted 05-2019] “…a toolbox of models and heuristics with which we can make sense of the world.”
- Inspired by encounters with fascinating quantitative political economy papers, such as Nunn and Puga’s “Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa” and Satyanath, Voigtländer and Voth’s “Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party”.
- Revised because I realized that defining a field by its tools was a good way to make everything look like a nail.