A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in by Michael A. Bernstein

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By Michael A. Bernstein

The economics occupation in twentieth-century the USA all started as a humble quest to appreciate the "wealth of nations." It grew right into a occupation of enormous public prestige--and now suffers a surprisingly withered public goal. Michael Bernstein portrays a career that has ended up repudiating the kingdom that nurtured it, ignoring distributive justice, and disproportionately privileging deepest wants within the learn of monetary existence. highbrow introversion has robbed it, he contends, of the very public effect it coveted and cultivated for thus lengthy. With wit and irony he examines how a group of specialists now pointed out with uncritical occasion of ''free market'' virtues used to be itself formed, dramatically so, by way of executive and collective action.

In arresting and provocative element Bernstein describes economists' fitful efforts to sway a nation equipment the place values and objectives might seldom stay cut loose ability and procedure, and the way their vocation used to be eventually humbled by way of govt itself. Replete with novel study findings, his paintings additionally analyzes the historic peculiarities that led the occupation to a key position within the modern backlash opposed to federal projects relationship from the Nineteen Thirties to reform the nation's financial and social life.

Interestingly sufficient, students have mostly ignored the background that has formed this career. An economist by means of education, Bernstein brings a historian's sensibilities to his narrative, using large archival study to bare unstated presumptions that, in the course of the enterprise of economists themselves, have come to mildew and outline, and occasionally truly deform, public discourse.

This publication bargains very important, even troubling insights to readers drawn to the trendy fiscal and political historical past of the U.S. and puzzled through fresh developments in public coverage debate. It additionally enhances a becoming literature at the heritage of the social sciences. bound to have a long-lasting effect on its box, A Perilous Progress represents a rare contribution of gritty empirical learn and conceptual boldness, of grand narrative breadth and profound analytical depth.

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In this regard, the AEA secretariat was no exception. But in the practice the Association’s leaders only served to make more pointed the contradic- 32 CHAPTER ONE tion between the goal of objectivity and the desire for influence and authority. ” Further, it seemed obvious the annual meeting of the AEA had to be planned with adherence “to a policy of strict neutrality” on public questions while, at the same time, the AER had to avoid “declaration[s] of opinion” on policy matters “in order to ward off the cranks .

21 It seemed prudent, therefore, to canvass the members of the AEA Executive Council on the matter of a new professional journal. ” Responses to this inquiry were swift, thoughtful, and direct. They represented the aspirations of a new generation of professional social scientists eager to establish firmly the reputation of a relatively new discipline. 22 Virtually all of the respondents to Fetter’s inquiry expressed enthusiasm for the establishment of a new, flagship journal in their field, even allowing, as some of them did, for the proliferation of scholarly publications that had already taken place.

One] should especially doubt whether the members of [the] association would easily find a common ground of discussion with Miss [Jane] Addams or Mr. Felix Adler, admirable as these persons are and valuable as their work is. ” The same, Carver believed, was true for the Review. ”29 Enforcing disciplinary boundaries, in both publication strategies and convention planning, also involved making precise decisions about the relationship between scholarly research and contemporary policy debate. ” Even if contemporary policy concerns found their way into the submissions to the Association’s quarterly, the editors were determined “that current economic questions .

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