Encyclopedia of Political Economy.

Author:Toruno, Mayo
Position::Book Review
 
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edited by Phillip Anthony O'Hara. London and New York: Routledge, 1999 (reprinted 2001). Paper, ISBN: 0-415-24188-X, 50 [pounds sterling]. Two volumes, 1302 pages.

The publication of this encyclopedia underscores the extent to which political economy has come of age. I am here, of course, referring to the kind of political economy that emerged in the 1960s with the founding of the Association for Evolutionary Economics and the Union for Radical Political Economics, and not to the public choice version, or to the version that contemporary political scientists seem to have in mind (as in international political economy). To some extent, the political economy that began in the 1960s could be thought of as a revival of classical themes, as suggested by Edward Neil in his aptly titled article "The Revival of Political Economy" (1972). The reintroduction of the notion that struggles over the surplus sets the stage for economic outcomes did indeed hark back to classical themes, but its rejection of methodological individualism, healthy skepticism regarding the normative/positive dichotomy, and eagerness to explore such non-traditional topics as imperialism, racism, feminism, and sexism made this movement far more than a revival. It involved a conscious effort to develop an alternative form of economic analysis that reached beyond the rational exchange models of society by incorporating the socio-historical dimension of human behavior and acknowledging the importance of power. It called itself political economy, not because it explored the interplay between the political and economic, though that was part of its concern, but because its analysis was informed by the faith that a more humane and democratic order could be achieved. As Phillip O'Hara notes in the preface to this encyclopedia, "political economy has always sought to be relevant to the political concerns of successive generations of progressives" (p. xv).

Some thirty odd years after its emergence, this heterodox movement is alive and well. There now exists a wide array of political economic journals and associations, graduate programs in political economy, at least two generations of practicing political economists, and a variety of political economic perspectives. In one of the entries of this encyclopedia, entitled "Political Economy: Schools," Charles Clark identifies seven such schools: Marxist political economy, institutional political economy, Schumpeterian political economy, Post...

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