Structuralist revolution and transformation of economics: from science to fairy tale

Publication type Article
Status Published
Institute of economics, Russian Academy of sciences
Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Institute of economics, Russian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Economic Forecasting, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameObshchestvennye nauki i sovremennost
EditionIssue 5

Structuralism as a specific scientific practice of the early 20th century had a significant impact on the transformation of economics subject matter and the ways of knowledge producing. This was preceded by “reformatting” mathematics and the humanities through the structuralistic epistemological strategies. The result was the transformation of a substantive ontology into a formal one (deontologization of knowledge) and the rise growth of practices of “knowledge desubjectivization”. Economics has fully adopted key intellectual patterns of this movement during the formalist revolution. Eventually, economics is the only one among the social sciences that corresponds to the standards of the mathematized natural science. It turned to a universal tool, potentially applicable to any social field, yet, it works rather with “possible (make-believe) worlds.” Meanwhile, one can find a rigid morphological structure in the highly formalized and abstract mainstream economic theory and its features resemble the structure of the “fairy tale” discovered by Vladimir Propp. Models are like “fairy tales”, which economists not only tell, but also believe in.

Keywordsstructuralism, epistemology, ontology, models
Publication date14.10.2018
Number of characters2591
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