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3 posts from September 2012


Forum for Social Economics, 41/1 (April 2012)

ForumFollowing are the contents (with abstracts) of the latest issue of Forum for Social Economics (41/1, April 2012). (Note: This is also the first issue of the Forum to be published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis.)




New Editorial Team, New Editorial Board, New Publisher, New Design, Wolfram Elsner, Phil O'Hara, Cecilia Winters, Paolo Ramazzotti, and Will Milberg -- FREE ACCESS HERE


Introduction by the Guest Editor of the Special Issue, Dimitris Milonakis

Marxist Theories of Crisis and the Current Economic Crisis, Thanasis Maniatis

This paper uses data from the US economy and finds that among Marxist theories of crisis the marxian law of the falling rate of profit as a result of the increasing composition of capital explains the crisis of the 1970s and the end of the “golden age” of capital accumulation. Despite the dramatic increase in the rate of surplus value and the limited fall in the capital-output ratio profitability has not recovered sufficiently during the neoliberal period due to the survival of lagging capitals and the increasing use of unproductive labor. Financialization is one of the effects of low profitability. In the recent years financial bubbles the associated wealth effects and the significant increase in the debt of all domestic sectors raised aggregate demand and provided the stimulus for the anemic growth of the period. The break of the bubbles implies the return to the weak fundamentals of the real economy and possibly a deep and prolonged period of stagnation and crisis.

Emil Lederer’s Theory of Economic Fluctuations and the Role of Financial Institutions, Angelos T. Vouldis, Panayotis G. Michaelides, and John G. Milios

Emil Lederer was characterized as the “leading academic socialist of Germany in the 1920’s” by Joseph Schumpeter and was a highly respected economist of his time. However, most aspects of his work remain totally unexplored. This paper focuses on Emil Lederer’s theory of economic fluctuations defending the thesis that certain aspects of Lederer’s conceptualization of economic fluctuations underwent considerable modifications when his 1925 article Konjunktur und Krisen is compared with his 1938 book Technical Progress and Unemployment, a shift unacknowledged so far in the literature. In his first attempt to tackle the issue, in Konjunktur und Krisen (1925), Lederer had constructed an explanation consistent with the so-called “disproportionality theory” introduced by Tugan-Baranowsky (codified as “early Lederer”). However, Lederer’s conception of the business cycle during the 1930s and especially in his major work Technical Progress and Unemployment underwent considerable modifications. Lederer’s (1938) analysis is, apparently, very ‘Schumpeterian’ (codified as “late Lederer”). In this version of his theory, the cycle is explained by supply-side factors, and more specifically by technical change. Additionally, Lederer’s view on the role of financial institutions (credit and banks) with regards to business cycles is analysed. Lederer avoided attributing a causative role to monetary factors. The interrelation between ‘real’ factors and financial institutions constitutes an essential element in his analysis of the business cycle.

The New Economics of Labor Migration: Beware of Neoclassicals Bearing Gifts, Alexandre Abreu

Until the emergence of the New Economics of Labor Migration (NELM) in the 1980s, migration scholars were largely divided into two main theoretical camps, viz. the neoclassical and historical-structural approaches to migration. Against this background, the NELM presented itself as a theoretical ‘third way’ between the two latter approaches, and purported to reconcile agency and structure in a way previously unachieved by either of them. While those pretensions gained a fair amount of acceptance and popularity, this paper argues that they are fundamentally misleading, and that the NELM is little more than a slightly more sophisticated avatar of the neoclassical approach to migration, whose fundamental weaknesses it has not, and cannot, shed. This paper further argues that, in so doing, the NELM effectively constitutes migration theory's own instance of economics imperialism, i.e. the attempt to advance the fundamental tenets of neoclassical economics (methodological individualism and the assumption of optimizing rationality) within the context of the study and interpretation of various social phenomena. In order to put forth these arguments, this paper provides a summary presentation of the standard neoclassical theory of migration, the historical-structural heterodoxy and the NELM; highlights why it is that the NELM should be regarded as a ‘reworked’ version of the neoclassical theoretical framework and discusses its inception in the context of the ‘information-theoretic revolution’ in economics; and argues for a new and improved ‘historical-structural synthesis’ as a more satisfactory alternative to both the NELM and the standard neoclassical theory.

Neoliberalism and Class Reproduction in India: The Political Economy of Privatisation in the Mineral Sector in the Indian State of Orissa, Matilde Adduci

Recent years have witnessed a process of integration of the Indian Union within the new international economic order, characterised by the ascendance of neoliberalism. Orissa, historically one of the Indian states mostly affected by severe poverty and economic stagnation though richly endowed with natural resources, has enthusiastically endorsed the neo-liberal project, implementing all the relevant national policies related to it. In the last 15 years, while the economic policy of the State of Orissa has been thus increasingly shaped according to the neoliberal guidelines recommended by the Centre, the disturbing socio-economic scenario of the State has not changed significantly. This paper aims to highlight how specific power relations in the State of Orissa are reproducing themselves in the course of the transition of the Indian Union towards the neoliberal order. This paper aims to consider as an example of this process the privatisation policies in the mining sector, namely the main economic sector of Orissa. Moving from the fundamental role historically played by Orissa within the Indian Union as a supplier of raw materials to the pan-Indian market, the paper intends to highlight the rentier character of the Orissan dominant class, traditionally capable of performing a basic intermediary function in the provision of raw materials to the Indian market. Once taken into account the socio-economic role historically played by the local dominant class in Orissa within the context of the wider capitalist dynamics at work at the all-Indian level, the paper will focus on the scenario which came into being since the start of the neoliberal economic reforms in 1991. The major shifts in the mineral policy at the central level since 1991 will be taken into account and, within this context, the implementation of privatisation policy in the mineral sector in Orissa will be analysed, with special reference its socio-economic implications. The paper aims to highlight the way in which the State of Orissa has broadened its traditional role, becoming an important supplier of raw material not only to the all-Indian market, but to the international market in general. It will be argued as well that, in continuity with the past, the intermediary function of the local dominant class in this process has remained fundamental. Therefore the paper aims to argue that the current scenario supports the proposition that the unfolding of neoliberal dynamics in Orissa opened the way for the creation of new spaces of social reproduction for the local dominant class and, with them, for the reproduction of old relations of power and social domination in the State.

Emerging Consensus on Labour Market Institutions and Implications for Developing Countries: From the Debates in India, Satoshi Miyamura

This paper makes a critical intervention to on-going theoretical and policy debates in the economic analysis of labour market institutions (LMIs) in the context of recent debates in India. It focuses on the internal inconsistency of mainstream economic analyses of LMIs, in particular those based on the new institutional economics (NIE) approach, and what appears to be an emerging policy consensus on LMIs within the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The paper draws out the possible ideological parallels in these two developments, despite different intellectual origins and intentions of those engaged in these debates. A corresponding modification in policy debates in India is observed in the shifting perspectives from the Second National Commission on Labour (SNCL) to the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS). The apparent emerging consensus in both the theoretical literature and policy debates reveals the tendency for researchers to focus on labour market outcomes and phenomenal forms of LMIs rather than the structures, processes, agencies and relations that underpin them. While this can be seen as an advancement from the traditional distortionist-institutionalist dichotomy, the tendency of this consensus to explain the persistence of seemingly inefficient institutions within the micro-level choice theoretic framework and its appeal to policy agendas on good governance, social capital, trust and civil society, render it vulnerable to appropriation by the mainstream. The paper argues that the emerging consensus on LMIs is an inadequate framework to inform effective policy propositions, and highlights the scope and opportunity for a political economy alternative.


Review of Social Economy, 70/3 (September 2012)

RSEFollowing are the contents (with abstracts) of the latest issue of Review of Social Economy (70/3, September 2012).


The Comparative Advantages of Member-owned Businesses, Johnston Birchall

This article provides a systematic descriptive and analytical framework for understanding the comparative advantages of member-owned businesses (MOBs) such as cooperatives, mutuals, and economic associations. First, it provides a short description of two main ownership types—consumer and producer—then it provides a taxonomy of all the main sub-types. An overview of the literature on comparative advantage follows. The three elements of ownership, control, and benefit are identified, and then advantages arising from these elements are identified and discussed with historical examples and empirical evidence derived mainly from the author's previous work. There is a brief discussion of the wider advantages to society in general from the presence of an MOB sector. A section on disadvantages identifies problems such as difficulty in raising capital, and governance failure due to lack of member participation. The final section considers the comparative nature of advantage, comparing MOBs with other ownership types, and making a distinction between comparative advantage and competitive advantage under particular market conditions.

Post-disaster Community Recovery in Heterogeneous, Loosely Connected Communities, Virgil Henry Storr and Stefanie Haeffele-Balch

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on 29 August 2005, leaving a great deal of destruction, pain, and uncertainty in its wake. Post-disaster community rebound is a collective action problem where every individual's decision to rebuild is impacted by the likelihood that others in the community will rebuild. The literature on post-disaster recovery suggests that homogenous, tight-knit communities will have an advantage over more diverse, less-connected communities in solving this collective action problem and bringing about community rebound and redevelopment. Consequently, these studies have tended to underappreciate the capacity of loosely knit, heterogeneous communities to overcome the challenges associated with community recovery after a disaster. This article hopes to fill this gap in the literature by examining how loosely knit, heterogeneous communities can facilitate post-disaster community recovery and redevelopment. To examine this, we highlight the importance of community-based organizations and focus on the recovery efforts of Broadmoor after Hurricane Katrina.

Job and Life Satisfaction Among Part-time and Full-time Workers: The “Identity” Approach, Giovanni Russo

This paper maintains that part-time workers are a heterogeneous group: some choose their number of hours so as to comply with the prescription of the identity to which they adhere; others choose to work part-time because they are unable to integrate the competing and incoherent claims made by the different identities (or roles) to which they adhere.

By using information on people's life goals and on the importance of having a job to achieve those goals, I derive measures of the importance of labor-market activities for the identity to which individuals adhere. Self-reported measure of the perceived time crunch generated by competing work and non-work activities is used to gauge the lack of smooth integration between the different identities (or roles) to which an individual adheres.

The empirical analysis based on this data set supports the initial claim.

Two Sides of the Same Coin: Re-examining Nepotism and Discrimination in a Segmented Society, Andre Hofmeyr and Justine Burns

We report the results from a series of trust games designed to distinguish racial discrimination from racial nepotism, played with a sample of high school students in Cape Town, South Africa. In contrast to the original work in this regard by Fershtman et al. (2005), we find considerably greater heterogeneity in the way that proposers respond to the revealed racial identity of their partner, with nepotism being a dominant behavior. However, while some proposers exhibit a nepotistic bias in their offers that favors in-group members on average, others exhibit a nepotistic strategy that favors out-group members. A consequence of this nepotism is that both efficiency and equity are reduced on average.

Book Reviews

Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Welfare: Assessing Welfare When Preferences Change (Martin Binder), reviewed by Amitrajeet A. Batabyal

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Martha C. Nussbaum), reviewed by Amitrajeet A. Batabyal

The Political Economy of Consumer Behavior: Contesting Consumption (Bruce Pietrykowski), reviewed by Yan Li

Seleted Works of Michael Wallerstein: The Political Economy of Inequality, Unions, and Social Democracy (ed. David Austen Smith et al), reviewed by Stefano Solari

Creating an Opportunity Society (Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill), reviewed by Mitja Stefancic

Economic Persuasions (ed. Stephen Gudeman), reviewed by Lorenzo Garbo

Christian Theology and Market Economics (ed. Ian R. Harper and Stephen Gregg), reviewed by Amin Mohseni

Grant opportunity for Ph.D. students or asst profs: Williams R. Waters Research Grant

William R. Waters Research Grant Application – 2012/13


The purpose of the William R. Waters Research Grant Program is to inspire economists to organize their research in social economics and social economy along the lines suggested by William Waters in his 1988 presidential address to the Association for Social Economics.

The major concern of social economics is explaining the economy in its broadest aspects; that is, showing how human beings deal with the ordinary business of using human and physical resources to achieve a level of material comfort. Explanation includes cultural, political, and ethical details as they are needed for a full understanding. As in any economics, there are three parts to social economics. First is the philosophical base of the social economist, which may or may not be a reflection of the philosophical base or ethos of the society he/she is studying. Social economics (or any economics) builds upon it. It is the hard core as in the recent popular literature of the philosophy of science. The second part of the discipline is a description of the significant characteristics of the economy. The economist must observe the multiplicity of economic reality and abstract those characteristics that are substantive. The two together, the philosophical premises and the empirical observations, will determine the third part of the discipline, social economic policy. Policy formulation is thus a mix of the first two. [William R. Waters, presidential address, “Social Economics: A Solidarist Perspective,” Review of Social Economy, 1988, p. 113 ff.].



The Association of Social Economics offers a research grant in the amount of up to $5,000 to promote research in social economics and the social economy. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: the role of social values in economic life, economic policy and social wellbeing, social capital, social norms, social networks, human capabilities, workplace policies and social justice, corporate social responsibility, socially responsible investment, microfinance, ethics and economics, poverty, inequality, and policies related to health, education, and welfare.

In order to advance the careers of promising new scholars in particular, applicants for the Waters grant must be graduate students in PhD programs who have not yet completed their dissertation, or faculty members (tenured or untenured) below the rank of Associate Professor (or its equivalent outside the U.S.).



To apply for the grant, the following materials need to be submitted by November 1, 2012:

  1. A completed application form (Please click here for the document)
  2. A narrative of no more than 5 pages (using 10-12 pt font, and 1.5-spacing) explaining the following:
    1. A description of the research project to be undertaken, including the issues to be examined and the research methods to be employed.
    2. The purpose of the project: What specifically will be learned from the research to be undertaken, and what will be its contribution to knowledge? What are the expected outputs from the work?
    3. The relationship of the project to social economics: What conceptual frameworks, topical concerns, and/or empirical methodologies drawn from social economics will be used in the present project? How is the project expected to contribute to social economics?
    4. The plan of work: Include a time-table for the project, resources to be used, travel plans, etc.
    5. Estimated budget: Indicate all costs that would be covered by the grant (e.g. travel expenses, research costs, summer stipend, etc.)
  3. An up-to-date curriculum vitae
  4. Two letters of recommendation: For students, one letter should be from their dissertation advisor.

Letters should be sent by mail or email to Mark D. White, arriving no later than November 1.

All application materials including letters of recommendation should be sent by mail or email to:

Professor Mark D. White
Department of Political Science, Economics and Philosophy
College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center
Phone: 718-982-3193.
Fax : 718/982-2888