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Article Seeing Things with Your Own Eyes: Steven Cheung’s Example for Economists
Objective When modern economics was born in the 18th century, Adam Smith made it a historical study of man and the rising commercial society. For Smith, economics is first and foremost concerned with wealth-creation, where the division of labor is the key organizing principle. In the next century, David Ricardo shifted the focus of economics from production to distribution. Over the course of the 20th century, economics has gradually metamorphosed into the logic of choice and taken mathematics as its language. These two transformations have together made economics a towering discipline in the social sciences. But this achievement comes with a heavy price. Economics has largely become a theory-driven subject, severed from the ordinary business of life. Rather than seeing this disconnection as a fatal flaw undermining the vitality of the discipline, many economists take pride in that economics is no longer confined to any subject matter, but stands as a versatile, subject-free analytical approach.
The Coase Society aims to reorient economics as a study of man and the economy. The human economy is a man-made, evolving complex system of cooperation and competition. The defining character of the market economy is its continuous innovation, churning out novel products from the constantly adapting structure of production. This dynamics is kept alive by entrepreneurship and the growth of knowledge. To understand how this open system works requires both empirical and theoretical efforts. But theory-building, unless informed and disciplined by facts on the ground, can easily degenerate into "blackboard economics". Empirical work is most valuable only when it changes the way we look at the problem. The paucity of systematic interaction and mutual learning between empiricists and theorists and the lack of competition in research methodology in modern economics have severely sterilized the discipline.
Man and the Economy is not to replace the prevailing paradigm in economics with what the Society believes as a different and superior one. Such a paradigm simply does not exist yet. But economics as currently practiced ought to change. Working with students of economies across disciplines and all over the world, and bringing diversity and competition into the marketplace for economics ideas, Man and the Economy can help to make it happen. We welcome empirical (historical, qualitative, statistical, experimental) investigations and theoretical explorations that deepen our understanding of how the economy works and how it changes over time. Man and the Economy is keen to publish articles that examine how the market economy spreads throughout the globe and adapts to local conditions as well as studies that cross disciplinary boundaries and/or integrate diverse methods to shed light on the working of the economy.
Click Here to read the newly-published interview with Dr. Ronald Coase!
Economy and its changes over time
Local and global contexts
Article formats Original Articles (regular research papers), Research Notes (interesting ideas and findings not fully developed), Voices from the Field (contributions from practitioners in the business and policy community that are of interest to scholars), Marketplace for Ideas (interviews with leading scholars and other game-changers in the field), Wisdom of the Past (insights on man and the economy that have been forgotten), and Letters from Readers. We expect to open more columns in the future and welcome suggestions from readers and contributors alike.