Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sociologists on Economics

I stumbled on Soc2Econ, a new blog where sociologists try to teach economists how to properly do research (I paraphrase). A number of points are made:

Economists barely do a literature review in their papers. Fair, economists know little about their previous generation, but that is also because the tool set has changed (for the better), we have learned a lot in the meanwhile, and some problems where simply not addressed forty years ago. I would rather argue that this obsessions with literature reviews that sociologists have is not moving research much forward, but rather in circles.

Neo-classical economics works on perfect information. Only on problems where imperfect information is not critical to answering the research question. There is ample literature that deals with imperfect information, in fact this is what all of game theory, principal-agent theory, and much of industrial organization, contract theory, law and economics, public economics and even macroeconomics is about!

The core of PhD schooling is not history of economic thought. While is it certainly interesting to learn how Economics got to where it is now, Economics is about concrete current problems, not philosophizing about past motivations of scholars with limited tools and data. Not disrespect to scholars of economic thought, but solving development problems does not hinge of our understanding of the debate between Ricardo and Malthus.


TStockmann said...

You do realize that blog is completely tongue-in-cheek, right? Start with the first entry before it became a bit more subtle.

Economic Logician said...

It may be tongue-in-cheek, but it reflects the opinion many sociologists have about Economics. How many times have I heard that narratives are better than using statistical techniques? How many times did I learn nothing from a Sociology article but that sociologists disagree because they cannot formulate a hypothesis? That opinion, as wild as it may be, matters more than conrete facts...

Zach said...

"opinion matters more than concrete facts"

I'm not sure what sociology department you're referring to, but could I join?

As a undergraduate in history and sociology who is getting through an expansive and healthy set of stat requirements, I can safely say that the above description of sociology has to be one of the most ill informed ones I've read.

Moreover, perhaps there's a layer of jokes that you're missing here. Could I put it in an overly simplistic graph for you? ta da!