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Troubling economics – towards metaphorical pluralism in economics education
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0045-1587
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

It has long been suggested that the ‘homo economicus’ assumption underpinning neo-classical theory is not limited to its theoretical function, but also has a ‘productive’ function by ‘creating’ individuals acting in accordance with the assumption (Schütz, 1953). Several studies have indeed pointed out that economists/economics students act in selfish ways, although there is some disagreement about the effect of education (Etzioni, 2015). Nelson (2006) and Zaman (2013) offer some clues as to how this process can be understood. They describe that and how we have come to embrace the metaphorical understanding of economy as a machine, running on self-interest, as something real rather than a figure of speech. Along the way, the tools with which sustainability issues could be addressed have become limited to those that fit ‘homo economicus’. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 and increased concerns about climate change, this critique of economics education has been re-actualised to the extent that economics students have organised themselves worldwide and called for a curricular reform (Earle, Moral, & Ward-Perkins, 2016). In line with this critique, academic economists have also argued that to equip students for the challenges of the 21st century, economics education needs to embrace a more complex and dynamic picture of human nature (Nelson, 2006; Zaman, 2013; Brant, 2016; Raworth, 2017). In view of this, it could be argued that educational researchers and teachers need tools to identify situations in educational practices as well as educational materials where ‘homo economicus’ is reproduced or challenged. The purpose of this paper is to address this need by presenting and suggesting a methodological approach that could be used for this. The approach draws on poststructuralist and anti-essentialist discourse theory (Laclau and Mouffe, Glynos and Howarth) and a methodological approach for analysis of socialisation and teaching and learning processes in classroom practice (Lidar, Lundqvist, & Östman, 2006; Wickman & Östman, 2002; Rudsberg & Öhman, 2010). Empirical material in the form of transcripts from classroom observations will be used to illustrate the approach.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
economics, homo economicus, poststructuralism, classroom observations, discourse analysis
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Teaching and Learning with Specialisation in the Social Sciences Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178372OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178372DiVA, id: diva2:1388597
Conference
NERA conference: Education in a Globalized World, Uppsalla, Sweden, March 6-8, 2019
Available from: 2020-01-26 Created: 2020-01-26 Last updated: 2020-01-29Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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