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Social EconomicsCurrent and Emerging Avenues$
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Joan Costa-Font and Mario Macis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035651

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035651.001.0001

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Social Economics: Current and Emerging Avenues

Social Economics: Current and Emerging Avenues

(p.1) 1 Social Economics: Current and Emerging Avenues
Social Economics

Joan Costa-Font

Mario Macis

The MIT Press

The separation of economics and sociology as distinct disciplines can be traced back to at least the so-called “ordinal revolution” (Pareto 1900, 1909) and the subsequent development of ‘marginalism’ and modern economics. Pareto’s division between ‘political economy’ (as the science of the economic system driven by rational factors like interests and appetites) and ‘sociology’ (or the science of the sociological system determined by ‘irrational’ forces such as sentiments/residues and derivations) had a profound and lasting influence on both disciplines. In spite of the separation and the different methodological approaches, the conversation and cross-pollination between economics and sociology never stopped, and has been often fruitful. Major early examples include Veblen’s study of institutions and of the interaction of economic changes and cultural and social changes (Veblen, 1899), Polanyi’s “embeddedness” argument and the idea that non-economic factors (e.g., social conventions) act as constraints on people’s economic behavior. More generally, the interactions between economics and other disciplines (e.g., psychology) have been more intense than it might seem at first sight. For instance, Herbert Simon’s idea that human choice is often best explained as being the result of “satisficing” as opposed to “maximizing” behavior (Simon 1955, 1956, 1957) is today a central tenet of behavioral economics, which, it can be argued, has obtained mainstream status.

Keywords:   behavioral economics, sociology, Pareto, political economy, satisficing, networks, philanthropy, gender, social preferences, culture

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