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Robert Boyer
Why Has Leading Macroeconomic Thinking Become Irrelevant? Macroeconomics
as a Profession

Scholar in Residence Lectures 2015

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Such persistent failure by macroeconomists deserves explanation. What do economists actually do? Are they scientists in search of general laws or are they actors governed by the rules of their academic sub-fields? This lecture provides a range of evidence in support of the latter. The uncertainty of provisional findings nurtures a rational mimetism. Some economists (financial mathematicians, for example) are trapped by powerful economic interests, and others tend to develop only specialized approaches rather than burrowing to the foundations of their discipline. Last but not least, an unprecedented professionalization has generated excessive specialization, i.e., a quasi-anomy of the division of labor into sub-sub-disciplines. Each field believes they have the answer - but no one is considering economic theory's overarching architecture.
Important publications
  • Hempel, C. G.: Methodology of Science: Descriptive and Prescriptive Facets. Mimeograph. Tel Aviv: Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel Aviv University 1984.

  • Durkheim, E.: The Division of Labor in Society. Translated by W. D. Halls. New York: Free Press [1893] 1997.

    Material used by this session
  • Boyer, R.: La crise de la macroéconomie, une conséquence de la méconnaissance des institutions? In: L'actualité Economique 68(1-2), 43-68 (1992).

  • Boyer, R.: La discipline économique des années 1930 à nos jours: d’un espoir prométhéen à une dramatique révision. In: Le Débat 169, Mars/Avril 2012, 148-166 (2012).

  • Boyer, R.: The Present Crisis: A Trump for a Renewed Political Economy. In: Review of Political Economy 25(1), 1-38 (2013).

    Robert Boyer presently is an Associate Researcher at the Institut des Amériques, Vanves, France. He was a Research Director (Directeur de recherche) at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Professor (Directeur d’études) at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and has worked at the Centre pour la recherche économique et ses applications (CEPREMAP). His major fields are: institutional and historical macroeconomics, innovation and growth analysis, labor markets and wage labor nexus, international comparisons of capitalisms, European integration, financial crises, and the history of economic doctrines and theories. Since the early 1970s, he has been a contributor to the Regulation Theory that investigates the factors that shape the institutional and technological long-term evolutions of capitalist economies.
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