Which School of Thought are YOU?

Labels aren't always helpful in academic discourse. When they serve as short-hand, they help. If I say I am an Austrian, I can convey a lot of information in one word. Not all the information is right, but it takes time an energy to explain a full set of views.

When labels dismiss others, they hurt. People too easily dismiss those crazy X economists.

Still. This is a cool chart.

It picks which school of thought you belong to. It doesn't help me understand my own views; I don't need a chart for myself.

However, it puts the schools into perspective with a glance. There are multiple diverse approaches to economics. That's a good thing. (Click to expand.)


(Update: I did not create this chart, but found it from John Aziz.)

Sometimes I take approaches to econ for granted. Not everyone sees economics as exchange. To me that's weird. It's good to be reminded that not everyone believes this. Besides the differences, there is plenty of overlap and possible work between the schools.

Also, while I consider myself a reader of diverse economics, this picture also reminds me that I have neglected some (possibly) good economics from behavioralists and developmentalists. I'll take a look after finals...

In case you are wondering, I guess am a Neoclassical-Austrian-Institutionalists. It's not too surprising, since my banner is Austrian and Chicago-school economists. Readers can guess which title comes from which row.

What kind of economist are you?

HT: @azizonomics

5 thoughts on “Which School of Thought are YOU?

  1. Don't understand why workers are 'selfish and rational, except workers fighting for socialism' in Marxist thought? Surely it's selfish and rational for them to seize the means of production and appropriate the economic surplus?

    • I agree with you. The chart has mistakes for sure. My guess is that whoever made it was thinking of the "sacrifices" made for the revolution. I'm not sure.

      I've argued before that rationality can explain anything. Sacrifice is rational. It's just paying a cost for an expected benefit. What does it mean to do something irrational? If you mean rationality in an explicit way used in models (free-ride, over consume public goods, fink in the prisoners' dilemma) then maybe the revolution is "irrational" for any individual. That is a stretch though. I'd say the chart is wrong.

      • Oh, I actually thought you'd made the chart - fair enough.

        Yeah, anything can be described as 'rational', or at least 'the best expected option at the time given the available information', which is essentially how I interpret revealed preference.

        We clearly need a less flimsy definition - I've been thinking something along the lines of 'your actions do not clash with the actions you would choose to take if you sat down and thought about them', a la Kahneman's type 1/type 2 distinction. But maybe we're getting off topic.

        • I'm sorry that wasn't clear. I wasn't talking about how "cool" my own chart was.

          I think your redefinition of rationality is more what people mean in colloquial speech, another word for smart. It is an interesting question though. The extreme subjectivist rationality is meaningless. The man-as-computer rationality is obviously not true. How do we find a better understanding of rationality that is between these extremes?

  2. Really interesting post Brian.

    Can't say I've considered what class of economics my thought falls into but looking at the chart, I'd probably say I'm a neoclassical developmentalist. This will be to the disgust of one of my socialist economic lecturers!

    Hope you had a good Christmas and have a happy new year. Looking forward to any future posts you may write!

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