Ideology and science in economics – some words to ponder

“We must go round about to find the roots of our own beliefs. In the general mass of notions and sentiments that make up an ideology, those concerned with economic life play a large part, and economics itself (that is the subject as it is taught in universities and evening classes and pronounced upon in leading articles) has always been partly a vehicle for the ruling ideology of each period as well as partly a method of scientific investigation.”

Joan Robinson (1962), Economic Philosophy, Ch.1


2 thoughts on “Ideology and science in economics – some words to ponder

  1. Joan Robinson is right. Through her own excellent work, she has made a great effort at being critical of ideology. I would like to add that not only the ruling ideology (in reality a complicated compound, if identifiable at all) deserves careful ongoing scrutiny but any ideology, including the ideology of the dominated and those seeking liberation.

    Not everyone is prepared to search for his own ideological errors, to begin with; and every person, even the most self-critical one, has blind spots that make him incapable of seeing his own biases.

    This is why I am a strong believer in (the possibility of) mass political competition, i.e. democracy, which is not primarily a mechanism to rule but one to question one another and keep us inclined to compromise as we all are prone to going-over-the-top, owing to our susceptibility to ideological conceit.

    • Thanks for your comment. I don’t have much to add really. I agree that it is the ideology of all individuals and groups that it is important to address. These are often held and acted upon subconsciously, as a matter of habit, once individuals have become educated and socialised into a particular society. Very often, unless there is some sort of crisis (personal, social, economic etc), such actors may not, as you say, come to examine their own deeply held beliefs about society.

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