The Scientization of Central Banks

Edin Ibrocevic

Over the past 30 years, central banks have undergone a remarkable transformation, moving away from the perception of monetary policy as an arcane art practiced by a central bank president and toward a technocratic and precise science of central banking. However, not every central bank underwent the process of scientization at the same time or to the same degree. While the Federal Reserve System founded their own research departments in the seventies, most G20 central banks only followed suit decades later. Nowadays almost all central banks publish large numbers of working papers, hold scientific conferences, and offer internal research tracks and visiting scholar positions for academics. Differences in the scientization of central banks have so far not been examined in the literature. This project therefore aims to analyze the structures and dynamics of knowledge production that have emerged during the scientization of the G20 central banks. It will combine sociological institutionalism, Bourdieusian field theory, and the sociology of translation to investigate the impact of scientization on knowledge production, institutions, and policy-making itself. Empirically, a large-scale dataset of working papers published by central banks, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is combined with qualitative document analysis and expert interviews. Project duration: October 2019 to March 2023.

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