John and all:  What constitutes a school is an old discussion among historians of thought and there is no answer acceptable to all. That said, I find it useful to distinguish among those approaches that cohere around a set of shared preconceptions about the nature of reality and of economies  Institutionalist, classical economists, neoclassical economists, Austrians share different preconceptions; to use Tony Lawson’s language their ontological foundations differ sharply.  Approached differently the world of economists is divided into labor economists, development economists, ecological economists, macro-economists,  feminist economists and so on, and practitioners in these fields may use Classical, neoclassical, Institutionalist, Austrian approaches. 


To make matters more confusing allegiance to organizations/journals/social groupings  create different groupings so that Social Economists share much with Institutionalists but took their earlier identify from an alliance with Catholic universities and teachings.  And,   Keynesians split during the 1950s and 60s into those who were afraid to abandon the security of neoclassicism (security of employment and from having to doubt too much) and Post Keynesians who emphasized the commonality with Institutionalism that was there in Keynes, namely emphasis on time and evolution.  But Post-Keynesians were a different social group and different journal,  and so on.   The stories to be found in the history of economic thought go on and on but I will not.


Instead, I tend to think that it is better to say that Schools of Thought cohere around different ontological foundations while fields of economics cut across the Schools, some more completely than others.




From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Daphne Greenwood
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2019 2:21 PM
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Subject: Re: [AFEEMAIL] Are Sustainability and Public Choice schools of thought, per se?






Ecological economics is definitely a school of thought and should be included. It has some overlaps with OIE, as Ric  Holt and I noted in our 2010 JEI article.

Public choice might have overlap with the new institutionalism – at least the adherents of each in my department seem intellectually compatible with each other.

Looking again at your excellent book recently, I was surprised that it did not include social economics. Is the thinking that it is not a separate school of thought.




From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of John Harvey
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2019 7:52 AM
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Subject: Are Sustainability and Public Choice schools of thought, per se?


Dear All,


I am working on revisions to my Contending Perspectives in Econ book and one chapter that I originally intended to write was on ecological economics or econ of sustainability. The existing chapters cover Neoclassicism, Marxism, Austrianism, Post Keynesianism, Institutionalism, New Institutionalism, and Feminism.


Do you consider ecological econ/sustainability a school of thought , per se along the lines of those others or is it a topic area?


Similarly, I have a colleague who uses my book and she's very keen that I add a Public Choice chapter. Same question: school of thought or subject area?


Incidentally, she is an Austrian and yet there is no one in the department whose overall philosophy regarding pedagogy and curriculum matches mine more completely. She's a wonderful person. Who would have thought?!




John T. Harvey 
Professor of Economics