Social economics

Call for papers: Association for Social Economics at ASSA in New Orleans, January 6-8, 2023,

ASE-logoBy Mark D. White

The Association for Social Economics has released the call for papers, courtesy of president-elect Darrick Hamilton, for its sessions at next January's ASSA meeting in New Orleans.

The details are below; note that the deadline for submissions is May 6.

 

ASE at the ASSA 2023The Inseparability of Economics, Politics and Social Stratificationin Understanding Moral Political EconomyJanuary 6-8, 2023 New Orleans, LA - Hilton Riverside 
The framing of economics as a “science,” presents the innuendo of a purity devoid of politics. Yet, from Marxist to Public Choice ideologies, economics, politics and social stratification (as measured by class, race, gender, nativity, etc.) has never been separable.  Across the globe and throughout history, people have lived in environments of reinforcing inequalities, vulnerabilities, and obstacles to social mobility. The list of despair includes: wealth and income disparity; unemployment and underemployment; differential exposure to economic downturns; vulnerability to predatory finance; intergenerational transfers of poverty and exclusion from affluence; increasing demands for care work and in-vivo transfers; food insecurity; environmental injustice, and vulnerability to climate fluctuation, pandemic,  and “natural” disaster; and the physical and mental harm resulting from socio-psychological stress. These vulnerabilities are more pronounced for economically marginalized and socially stigmatized social groups. The vulnerabilities disproportionately fall on women, Black people and individuals belonging to other subaltern groups.  As inequality continues to grow, both within and across nation-states, this call is a charge to the economics profession to move beyond the neoliberal framing that centers markets and individual choice devoid of adequate understanding of resource, power and distribution towards a new thinking related to a more “moral” and fair political economy grounded in shared prosperity.  For instance, from the 1960’s, led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to now, led by the Reverends William Barber II and Liz Theoharis, the Poor People’s Campaign has always emphasized economic justice as a moral imperative.  For the ASE sessions of the 2023 ASSA meetings, we welcome proposals for papers/sessions on all aspects of social economics, but preference will be given to papers that address the 2023 theme described above. Possible questions to consider but are not limited to: 
  • The conception of a “moral” political economy
  • The role of race, gender or other identity-group stratification as they relate to production, consumption and/or distribution
  • Beyond revenue collection, the role of the taxation in fostering economic inclusion and social equity in either domestic or international contexts
  • Political philosophy of economic rights and moral economies
  • Economic inequality and the erosion of democracy
  • Macroeconomic understandings of risk, inequality and vulnerability
  • The economics of race, politics, and social stratification
  • Measuring economic value beyond conventional indicators of growth
  • The role of money and monetary policy in facilitating economic inclusion 
  • Economic vulnerabilities to environmental risk, pandemic and “natural” disaster
  • The roles of data and technology as they relate to economic empowerment vs exploitation
Proposals for papers as well as complete sessions are welcome. The submission deadline is May 6, 2022.   Submission guidelines:Paper proposals should include: 1) author name, affiliation, and contact information, and 2) title and abstract of proposed papers (250-word limit). Session proposals should include: 1) session title and abstract (250-word limit), 2) name, affiliation, and contact information of session organizers, 3) titles and abstracts of proposed papers (250 word limit each). Questions, as well as paper and session submissions should be sent to Darrick Hamilton (HamiltoD@newschool.edu) with a copy to Grieve Chelwa (chelwag@newschool.edu) by May 6, 2022. Individuals whose papers are accepted for presentation must either be or become members of the Association for Social Economics by July 1, 2022 in order for the paper to be included in the program. Membership information can be found at www.socialeconomics.org. All papers presented at the ASSA meetings are eligible for the Warren Samuels Prize, awarded to the best paper that advances the goals of social economics and has widespread appeal. Papers can also be considered for a special issue of one of the association’s journals, or for edited volumes.Note: Due to limited session slots, we unfortunately cannot accept all submissions. Papers and sessions not accepted for the ASE program will be automatically considered for the ASE portion of the ICAPE conference, which will be held right before the ASSA meetings. See icape.org for details.

Another update to "Cost-Benefit Analysis at the Crossroads" symposium (LPE Project)

Lpe projectBy Mark D. White

Talk about the gift that keeps giving: The "Cost-Benefit Analysis at the Crossroads" symposium at the LPE Project has posted several new entries which collectively focus and intensify the critical look at CBA in the earlier contributions. In this post, I'll look at three that highlight the failures of inclusivity at the heart of CBA.

In "Modernizing Regulatory Review Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis," Melissa Luttrell (University of Tulsa College of Law) and Jorge Roman-Romero (Equal Justice Works) write that:

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is inherently classist, racist, and ableist. Since these are foundational problems with CBA, and are not simply issues with its implementation, they can never be fixed by mere methodological improvements. Instead, the ongoing modernization of centralized regulatory analyses must focus on “moving beyond” CBA, and not on fixing it or improving it.

In response, they suggest a more comprehensive and holistic approach to regulatory review that incorporates values outside of CBA, partly by inviting the input of experts other than economists:

A comprehensive and just approach to regulation that properly balances economic considerations with deontological factors is possible in a post-CBA world. In the context of risk regulation, the regulatory review process should prioritize deontological interests, particularly when controlling statutes don’t provide for a welfarist blueprint, and are, instead, more concerned with protecting rights or promoting equity—as most of them are.

Implementing this post CBA-approach to regulation requires OIRA to diversify its portfolio of career staffers beyond economists, thus avoiding falling into methodological labyrinths that threaten to derail regulatory action with no apparent coherence. By incorporating more areas of disciplinary expertise in the review process, important non-quantifiable considerations like climate resilience, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity would be given predominant weight despite the difficulties associated with assigning a monetary value to the benefits that might accrue from centering them. Moreover, a post-CBA regulatory review that appreciates deontological values should be wary of falling into other reductionist utilitarian frameworks that democratically-enacted statutes do not call for. Recall that the Clinton and Obama administrations both made gestures toward retaining CBA while softening its anti-regulatory effects; these half-measures were ineffective then, as they will be again if CBA is merely “reformed” instead of rejected.

Karen Tani (University of Pennsylvania) follows in the same vein in her contribution, "The Limits of the Cost-Benefit Worldview: A Disability-Informed Perspective," which details two specific objections to CBA in this specific context. First, she highlights who has the power to make decisions and who is subject to them:

In a society that remains inaccessible to many disabled people, some have found it useful to be able to say, “this thing I want (need) is not that costly, especially relative to the benefits, so you should just give it to me.” But as disability law scholars and practitioners would be the first to admit, that same framework carries within it a concession. It suggests that at some point, or for some seekers, cost will be an entirely valid reason for the person who controls access or resources to say “no.” The benefits may be entirely real, but they will not justify the costs.

Surely there are situations in which we don’t want to make that decisional framework available—not because we think we can simply wish away costs, but because of the importance of the interest at stake and because we know just how easy it is to craft compelling narratives of austerity and costliness. To be sure, austerity/cost narratives have counter-narratives—of deservingness, of need, and even of right—but historically, some narrators have received more credence from the American public than others. There is a thumb on a scale against anyone who can plausibly be blamed for their own vulnerability (“welfare mothers” are a prominent historical example).

Second, she questions the ways that different issues are framed, either as costs or benefits:

The second point—again, heard often in the disability community—is about deep structures of exclusion and how easily they escape the notice of policymakers. CBA is particularly unhelpful in this regard. As Martha Nussbaum has argued, in the context of her capabilities work, CBA may help us in answering which of the options in front of us “contains the largest net measure of good,” but it is not an apt tool for naming and questioning the immorality that may be embedded in the set of choices made available. As Nussbaum puts it, CBA foregrounds the “obvious question” and leaves unasked and unanswered the “tragic question” that may be present in the same situation. Thus in the disability context, CBA might help us decide whether and how to make existing public transportation accessible (still a serious problem), but it does not ask why transportation systems were built in ways that excluded so many disabled people in the first place. It might help us make a decision about the pace and nature of deinstitutionalization, but it would not interrogate the morality of a society that has long separated people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the rest of the community and confined them in warehouse-like settings. More generally, CBA is comfortable casting some people’s needs as the “costs,” and implicitly asking those people show their worth, rather than asking how and why they ended up on that side of the ledger to begin with.

Finally, in "A Post-Neoliberal Regulatory Analysis for a Post-Neoliberal World," James Goodwin (Center for Progressive Reform) echoes the comments of the previous two posts, calling out the undemocratic nature of CBA as well as its neglect of deontological values, and adds an anti-social bias (that will certainly resonate with social economists):

[T]he analysis must recognize and properly account for the complex patterns of social relationships that define and give meaning to each of our lives. Welfare economics-based cost-benefit analysis denies these linkages, viewing individuals in strictly atomistic terms and pretending our existence is little more than the single-minded pursuit of self-interested utility. An analysis lacking a richer understanding of our situated, mutual dependencies is not merely incomplete; it is systematically biased against pro-social policies, such as controls on toxic mercury pollution emissions from fossil-fueled power plants or effective COVID protections for workers in the service industry. Worse still, it rewards and reinforces the cultural disconnectedness at the root of so many of our public policy challenges.


Virtual Conference on "Teaching Ethics to Economists: Challenges & Benefits"

By Jonathan B. Wight

Conference Dates: October 21-22, 2021

Virtual Conference

LSBU Business School
&
London Centre for Business and Entrepreneurship Research

During the last 30 years, the conversation between economic theory and ethics has been restarted, after a period of interruption, generated by the positivist era in economics. We cannot ignore, in this revival, the role of the financial crisis, gender and racial inequality and now the divisions revealed by the unequal impacts of the pandemic. An important contribution has been the call for a professional economic ethics led by DeMartino (2011) and DeMartino and McCloskey (2016).

More recently, Dolfsma and Negru (2019) challenge the idea that ethics has no place in economics. Building on their ideas we ask: Is ethics important for the study of the economy and, if so, how should it be taught?

This two day conference will be of interest to lecturers and students in economics and business - and anyone with an interest in the future of the economics curriculum.

Link for the event & registration: 
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/teaching-ethics-to-economists-challenges-benefits-tickets-170298187463 


Programme

Day One: Thursday 21 October

9.45am - Virtual housekeeping & Zoom functionality - Neil Hudson-Basing, Corporate Events Manager, LSBU

9.55am - Welcome Craig Duckworth, LSBU Business School, UK

10am - Introduction to the day. Economics and Ethics - what is the agenda?

10.30am - Revisiting the analytical relationship of Ethics and Economics María Isabel Encinar & Félix-Fernando Muñoz, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

11.15am - Theoretical and ethical reductionism and the neglect of subjectivity in economics and economic education - Giancarlo Ianulardo, University of Exeter, UK

12pm - Lunch break

12.30pm - Keeping alive non-individualistic ethics in political economy: a review of concepts from Aquinas to Habermas Stefano Solari, University of Padua, Italy

1.15pm - Racism, the economy and ethics: where does it all begin? - Paolo Ramazzotti, University of Macerata, Italy

2pm - Teaching economic harm to economists - George DeMartino, University of Denver, USA

2.45pm - Comfort break

3pm - The fate of moral philosophy in the age of economic scientism: ethics and welfare economics in mainline economics - Peter Boettke, George Mason University, USA

3.45pm - Plenary: Reflections

4pm - End of Day One

______________________________________________________________________

Day Two: Friday 22 October

9.45am - Virtual housekeeping & Zoom functionality - Neil Hudson-Basing, Corporate Events Manager, LSBU

9.55am - Welcome and intro to Day Two Craig Duckworth, LSBU Business School, UK

10am - Managerial decision making: consequences and Consequentialism - Malcolm Brady & Marta Rocchi, Dublin City University, Ireland

10.45am - Economic curricular, pluralism and the Global South Michelle Groenewald, North- West University, South Africa

11.30am - Accounting as applied ethics: teaching a discipline - Wilfred Dolfsma, Wageningen University, Netherlands

12.15pm - Lunch break

12.45pm - Purusharthas: the human pursuit of wealth and welfare. The Indian approach to ethics and economics - V P Raghavan, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, India

1.30pm - Economics, ethics and deliberation

  • Ioana Negru, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
  • Imko Meyenberg, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  • Craig Duckworth, LSBU Business School, UK

2.15pm - The kidney market debate: a retrospective on Becker and Elias - Jonathan Wight, University of Richmond, USA

3pm - Comfort break

3.15pm - Alfred North Whitehead on the education of the commercial class: its influence on Keynes Dennis Badeen, University of Hertfordshire, UK

4pm - Plenary: Reflections

4.15pm - End of Conference

*Times according to GMT

________________________________________________________________________________________________

This conference will be delivered virtually via Zoom. You will receive the joining instructions on the Monday before the event takes place.


New book: Law and Social Economics

LawSEMark D. White

Over at the Association for Social Economics Blog, I talk about my latest edited book, Law and Social Economics: Essays in Ethical Values for Theory, Practice, and Policy, drawn from papers presented at the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA) and Law and Society Association (LSA) meetings. Below is the table of contents:

Part I: Foundations

Chapter 1: "Towards a Contractarian Theory of Law," Claire Finkelstein

Chapter 2: "Environmental Ethics, Economics, and Property Law," Steven McMullen and Daniel Molling

Chapter 3: "Individual Rights, Economic Transactions and Recognition: A Legal Approach to Social Economics," Stefano Solari

Chapter 4: "Institutionalist Method and Forensic Proof," Robert M. LaJeunesse

Chapter 5: "Retributivist Justice and Dignity: Finding a Role for Economics in Criminal Justice," Mark D. White

Part II: Applications

Chapter 6: "Female Genital Mutilation and the Law: A Qualitative Case Study," Regina Gemignani and Quentin Wodon

Chapter 7: "An Unexamined Oxymoron: Trust but Verify," David George

Chapter 8: "On the Question of Court Activism and Economic Interests in 19th Century Married Women’s Property Law," Daniel MacDonald

Chapter 9: "Divergent Outcomes of Land Rights Claims of Indigenous Peoples in the United States," Wayne Edwards

Chapter 10: "Punitive (and) Pain-and-Suffering Damages in Brazil," Osny da Silva Filho


Jonathan Wight's 2014 Presidential Address to the Association for Social Economics

Mark D. White

WightBecause he's too bashful to tell you, I'll tell you that Jonathan Wight's 2014 Presidential Address for the Association for Social Economics, delivered at January's ASSA meetings, has just been published in the Review of Social Economy, and the link has been posted to the ASE blog.

The title is "Economics within a Pluralist Ethical Tradition":

Ethical pluralism is the recognition that multiple ethical frameworks operate in social settings to solve problems of moral hazard. In particular, non-consequentialist considerations of duty and virtue operate to restrain self-interest and lower transaction costs in exchange, such as when asymmetric information exists. Positive economics has tended to rely exclusively on a behavioral model that assumes utility maximization, but this approach fails to give credit to the neglected foundations of duty and virtue. Consequences, duties, and virtues all play a role in sustaining businesses, for example, and in promoting the search for truth within the economic research community. Normative welfare economics can also benefit from understanding vertical and horizontal pluralism.


Vernon Smith on Adam Smith at the Social Economics Blog and Forum for Social Economics

Vernon smithMark D. White

The Social Economics Blog (the blog of the Association for Social Economics, of which Jonathan B. Wight and I are currently president and president-elect, respectively) is featuring an article from the Forum for Social Economics by Nobel leaurate Vernon L. Smith on Adam Smith, plus comments from three social economics luminaries (including Jonathan himself). The Forum's publisher, Taylor & Francis, has graciously made the Smith-on-Smith article and comments available of free of charge to encourage open and wide discussion.

The abstract to Smith's paper, "Adam Smith: From Propriety and Sentiments to Property and Wealth," follows:

“Why return to Adam Smith?” Because we learn that he had fresh-for-today insights, derived from a modeling perspective that was never part of economic analysis. Smith wrote two classics: The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759; hereafter Sentiments); and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776; hereafter Wealth). In Sentiments it is argued that human sociability in close-knit groups is governed by the “propriety and fitness” of conduct based on sympathy. This non-utilitarian model provides new insights into the results of 2-person experimental “trust” and other games that defied the predictions of traditional game theory in the 1980s and 90s, and offers testable new predictions. Moreover, Smith shows how the civil order of “property” grew naturally out of the rules of propriety. Property together with what I call Smith's Discovery Axiom then enabled his break-through in Wealth that defined the liberal intellectual and practical foundation of two centuries of Western economic growth.


David Brooks and Downton Abbey on Big Data

Mark D. White

Ever since Nate Silver pulled a Babe Ruth 527 times on election night, the virtues of "big data" have been hailed widely in the press. But David Brooks strikes a cautionary note in today's New York Times, correctly noting that data by itself cannot solve problems and making the point that qualitative judgment is necessary throughout the processes of data collection, interpretation, and implementation.

Matthew-crawley-and-tom-branson-galleryThough data wasn't "big" in the 1920s, we saw these points illustrated in the third season of Downton Abbey. Matthew Crawley, heir to the Downton estate, urges Lord Grantham to modernize the way the land is farmed, but Grantham is concerned more with the well-being of the tenant farmers and others who live off the estate. Crawley certainly has the data and the analysis to back up his claims that modernization is necessary to save the estate from bankruptcy, but Grantham makes him see the human side of the equation as well. It takes Tom Branson, the Irish revolutionary and former chaffeur who scandalously married Grantham's younger daughter, to broker an agreement between the two that promises to make the estate solvent while ensuring the welfare of the tenants.

Neither Brooks nor Branson would deny that quantitative analysis is a fantastic tool for clarifying some aspects of a problem, but they stress that we can't let its apparent precision and illusory objectiveness blind us to more qualitative concerns. As economists, we must be mindful of what our data captures and—more importantly—what it leaves out, and make sure to supplement our decision-making with these neglected (often nonquantifiable) factors. Material and financial costs and benefits matter, of course, but so do concepts such as dignity, rights, justice, and fairness, which are no more easily captured in a 21st-century spreadsheet than in a 1920s financial statement.

(For more on this point, see my chapter "Value in Economics: Accentuate the Qualitative, but Don’t Eliminate the Quantitative" in Values: Sources and Readings on a Key Concept of the Globalized World, edited by Ivo DeGennaro, Brill, 2012, pp. 331-347.)


Call for papers: Association for Social Economics sessions at 2014 ASSA meetings

Mark D. White

As the program chair for the Association for Social Economics sessions at the 2014 Allied Social Science Associations meeting in January 2014, I am pleased to announce the call for papers:

Association for Social Economics

Call for Papers

Allied Social Science Associations Annual Meeting
Philadelphia, PA, January 3-5, 2014

THEME:  Exploring the Relationships between Law and Social Economics

Social economics has long emphasized the inherent social nature of the economy, stressing that the ties that bind people together in the economy have essential effects on economic outcomes (and vice versa). Law is also a social institution that regulates and influences how people relate to each other, including its effects on economic transactions and other related social interactions. In other words, law should be an integral part of social economics, and this conference theme hopes to enhance and highlight this.

In terms of economics, law is best established within the mainstream traditions of law-and-economics. But there is a need for this paradigm, based almost solely on neoclassical economic principles, to be supplanted by a social economics outlook. There are already efforts on the part of legal scholars to question neoclassical law-and-economics (such as the law and socio-economic movement and behavioral law-and-economics) as well as areas stressing the social aspects of law (such as law-and-society). Social economics has an tremendous opportunity to contribute to this reorientation of economic thinking within the law.

For the ASE sessions at the 2014 ASSA meetings we welcome proposals for papers on all aspects of social economics, especially those dealing with the law. Possible law-related topics include:

  • In what ways can social economics offer an improved economic analysis of law?
  • How have social economics addressed legal issues in the past, either directly or indirectly?
  • How can social economists incorporate legal concepts into their work? Many substantive topics of interest to social economists, such as inequality, poverty, and discrimination have important legal components that affect social-economic outcomes.
  • What general topics in legal studies could benefit from a social economics approach? Such as:
    • Contract law (based on promise, consent, efficiency, etc.)
    • Property (individual versus collective orientation, issues of taxation, etc.)
    • Criminal punishment (justified by deterrence, retributivism, rehabilitation, etc.)
    • Judicial decision-making (based on rights, efficiency, social justice, etc.)

To submit a paper or a session, please go to the proposal submission area of the ASE website (under Conferences > ASSA > Proposal submissions). Submission deadline is April 30, 2013.

Individuals whose papers are accepted for presentation must either be or become members of the Association for Social Economics by July 1, 2013, in order for the paper to be included in the program.  Membership information can be found at socialeconomics.org.

All papers presented at the ASSA meetings are eligible for the Warren Samuels Prize, awarded to the best paper that advances the goals of social economics and has widespread appeal. Papers can also be considered for a special issue of the Forum for Social Economics. Details of these opportunities will be sent to authors of accepted papers.


Call for abstracts: Pro-Social Strategies for Public Welfare (The Role of Social Capital and Trust)

Mark D. White

Pro-Social Strategies for Public Welfare: The Role of Social Capital and Trust

Panel/Stream Proposal for IIPPE Fourth Annual Conference in Political Economy, International Institute for Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands July 9-11, 2013

Dr. Luca Andriani, Birkbeck College University of London, UK

Dr. Asimina Christoforou, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece

 

The Fourth International Conference in Political Economy will take place in The Hague (The Netherlands) July 9-11, 2013. The conference theme is “Activism and Alterative Economic Strategies” in light of the on-going economic and political crisis (for details, please consult IIPPE’s new website at http://iippe.org/wp/).

As members of the IIPPE social capital working group, we propose a panel on “Pro-social Strategies for Public Welfare: The Role of Social Capital and Trust”. In the past decades, state and market institutions have failed to deliver redistribution and welfare in both developing and high-income geopolitical contexts, particularly after the global economic crisis broke out. This induced agents to engage in short-term, self-oriented strategies either to consolidate their power or salvage a subsistence level of living, which impedes collective action for social reform and the promotion of long-term public benefits. Nonetheless, and in response to deeper recession, social upheaval and political instability, there are collective efforts for social awareness and mobilisation to confront immediate problems of destitution and to reclaim people’s right to a quality of life.

In this sense, the panel aims to open a constructive discussion on the role of social capital and trust in building pro-social strategies for public welfare. We ask how norms and networks of cooperation, reciprocity and trust could facilitate – or hinder – a wider range of pro-social strategies, which could include, but are not limited to:

  • active social and political participation to deal with the democratic deficit of both the developed and developing world;
  • assessing events of corruption associated not only with the effects and motives of rent-seeking behaviour and tax evasion, but also with the imperspicuous transactions of powerful economic and political groups;
  • advocacy and redistributive functions of non-governmental organisations and voluntary associations that represent disadvantaged groups and fight for their needs and rights;
  • activities of social enterprises and cooperatives that provide alternative ways of production, based on general-interest objectives and innovative forms of democratic participation of
    stakeholders, workers and investors.

We welcome works that derive from various social science disciplines and use different units of analysis (individual, regional, country or cross-country level), methodologies and techniques (theoretical, empirical, qualitative and quantitative).

Abstracts (500 words maximum) should be submitted by the 10th of February 2013 to: Luca Andriani (luca.andriani@bbk.ac.uk) and/or Asimina Christoforou (asimina.christoforou@gmail.com)


Last call for papers: "Social Issues and Public Policy" at ASE/SEA meetings in November

Mark D. White

The Association for Social Economics will hold two sessions at the annual meeting of the Southern Economic Association to be held in New Orleans, LA at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, November 16-18, 2012 (Friday to Sunday). The theme for this year will be “Social Issues and Public Policy.” 

Please send your paper proposals to Aparna Mitra (amitra@ou.edu) by April 27, 2012.  For more information on the Conference, please visit the SEA website at www.southerneconomic.org or contact Aparna Mitra directly.