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Social structure in economic theory

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Economic Issues
DatePublished - Sep 2003
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)727-746
Original languageEnglish


Much economic theory, especially the orthodox variety, keeps away from structural methods and makes little or no reference to social structure: the word ‘structure’ is used only rarely and casually, so that its sense remains unclear. This paper argues that economics might gain from a richer, more fluid treatment of social structure, as proposed in recent social theory. After considering the structural content of heterodox economics, the paper examines how current approaches might be developed to yield new structural concepts capable of accommodating economic diversity and change. An enhanced definition of social structure could provide a structural foundation for economics without denying human agency or historical evolution.

    Research areas

  • social structure, economic theory, dualism, duality, structural change

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