Fad and Fashion in Political Economy Models: A Sociology of Knowledge


ACLS Fellowship Program




How do ideas about what constitutes the best form of economic governance propagate in political economy as a discipline? Over the past 50-60 years political economists have upheld a succession of national institutional configurations as the ideal model for governance. A sociology of knowledge for these ‘supermodels’ helps us to understand how the newest models will be deployed in the current crisis. Most debates pit one model against another, or seek to understand the beauty of a given model in a few features. Instead, this study asks three “meta” questions about the long list of supermodels. Where do these models come from? How are models propagated politically? Is there cumulative, scientific learning over time or are these models purely ‘political?’