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Economics and Public Reason

Editors of special issue: Marco Guidi (University of Pisa), Harro Maas (University of Lausanne), Steve Medema (University of Colorado Denver)

Expression of interest: October 25th 2017

Notification by the editors: November 5th 2017

Dedicated Workshop at the University of Lausanne: May 2018

Deadline for submission of rewritten papers: August 2018

Planned publication of the issue: 2019

It is a commonplace to say that contemporary public discourse is immersed in economic terminology and reasoning. Over time, political economy and economics have been analyzed as the physiology or anatomy of civil society, as the language of the bourgeois public sphere, as governmentality based on impersonal economic mechanisms, as economic imperialism, as the trickling down of pure economics into the applied, and as the rise (or re-emergence) of economists as public intellectuals. A cursory glance at the history of economics shows, however, that economics in its many different guises has always been a part of public discourse: Merchant tracts addressed to princes, novels from Defoe and Swift, parliamentary reports, the OECD’s World Economic Outlook, journalistic writing, popularizing tracts by Harriet Martineau, Millicent Fawcett, and Steven Levitt, and schoolbooks all work to bring economic ideas into the public conversation.

Œconomia – History, Methodology, Philosophy invites papers for a theme issue which looks at how economics can be analyzed as a public science—that is, a science which developed its forms of argument and evidence in relation to and in exchange with its publics. We are particularly interested in papers that take specific sites, textual genres, formal and informal networks, or profiles of specific categories of mediators in a comparative or diachronic way to frame their analysis. One can think, for example, of think tanks, international institutes for policy analysis, journals and periodicals, economic consulting firms, economists in their role as consultants or public commentators—to list just a handful of examples of the many directions pointed to by this line of analysis. Papers are welcome on any period in the history of economics.

Procedure and timeline: Researchers who would like to be considered for participation in this special issue of Œconomia should submit, via email attachment, the paper title, an extended (1500-2000 words) abstract, and the affiliations of all authors. This information should be sent to and is due by October 25th, 2017. Authors whose contributions are selected will be notified by November 5th 2017. On May 4-5th, 2018, the Centre Walras-Pareto of the University of Lausanne will organize a workshop at which authors will present their completed papers. On-site costs will be covered, and we hope to arrange for limited travel-support for young scholars. Revised versions of the papers will be due by August 1st, 2018 and will go through the normal refereeing process of Œconomia. Publication of the special issue is planned for Spring 2019. For further information, please contact one of the special editors at,, or

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