The Institutionalist Movement in American Economics, 1918-1947: Science and Social Control

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This book provides a detailed picture of the institutionalist movement in American economics concentrating on the period between the two World Wars. The discussion brings a new emphasis on the leading role of Walton Hamilton in the formation of institutionalism, on the special importance of the ideals of "science" and "social control" embodied within the movement, on the large and close network of individuals involved, on the educational programs and research organizations created by institutionalists, and on the significant place of the movement within the mainstream of interwar American economics. In these ways the book focuses on the group most closely involved in the active promotion of the movement, on how they themselves constructed it, on its original intellectual appeal and promise, and on its institutional supports and sources of funding. The reasons for the movement's loss of appeal in the years around the end of World War II are also discussed, particularly in terms of the arrival of Keynesian economics, econometrics, and new definitions of "science" as applied to economics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This book establishes, more thoroughly than any previous study, the breadth and importance of the interwar institutionalist movement in the United States. It is likely to become the standard work on an episode that is central to the history of American economics in the twentieth century.' Roger E. Backhouse, University of Birmingham

'Malcolm Rutherford's archival digging has yielded a rich harvest in fresh insights. An admirable performance!' William J. Barber, Wesleyan University

'Malcolm Rutherford's book is the best history yet written of American economics of the first half of the twentieth century. By exploding the myths that surround institutional economics, he has given us a fresh look at what American economics was and how it evolved in the three decades following the First World War.' Bradley W. Bateman, Denison University

'American institutionalism has often been viewed as a 'curiosity' - interesting to those intrigued by arcane and misguided ideas, but tangential to the economics mainstream. Rutherford's careful historical reconstruction places institutionalism much closer to the center of the discipline in America during the interwar years, showing how it was intertwined with other elements vying for the discipline's attention. Of equal interest is his account of its postwar marginalization, as the profession redefined and realigned itself relative to the other social sciences and new directions in the American polity.' Ross B. Emmett, James Madison College, Michigan State University

'With this meticulously researched piece of scholarship, Rutherford has fundamentally altered our understanding of the history of American institutionalism. This book will be the starting point for all subsequent work in the area, and the standard against which it will be measured.' Steven G. Medema, University of Colorado, Denver

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Malcolm Rutherford is Professor of Economics at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and the leading authority on the history of American institutional economics. He has published widely on this topic in History of Political Economy, the Journal of the History of Economic Thought, the European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, the Journal of Economic Perspectives and Labor History. He is the author of Institutions in Economics: The Old and the New Institutionalism, published by Cambridge University Press (1994). Professor Rutherford has served as President of the History of Economics Society and the Association for Evolutionary Economics.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction: 1. Institutionalism in the history of economics; 2. Understanding institutional economics; Part II. Institutionalist Careers: 3. Walton Hamilton: institutionalism and the public control of business; 4. Morris Copeland: institutionalism and statistics; Part III. Centers of Institutional Economics: 5. Institutionalism at Chicago and beyond; 6. Amherst and the Brookings Graduate School; 7. Wisconsin institutionalism; 8. Institutionalism at Columbia University; 9. The NBER and the foundations; Part IV. Challenges and Changes: 10. The institutionalist reaction to Keynesian economics; 11. Neoclassical challenges and institutionalist responses; Part V. Conclusion: 12. Institutionalism in retrospect.

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