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The economics of research: the contribution of critical realism

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Publication date17/06/2016
Host publicationCrisis system: a critical realist and environmental critique of economics and the economy
EditorsPetter Naess, Leigh Price
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages18
ISBN (electronic)9781134799916
ISBN (print)9780415818742
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In the wake of the global financial crisis and amidst continuing global economic malaise, mainstream economics continues to reign supreme even as its inadequacies are increasingly manifest in terms of elucidating these challenges. This chapter seeks to demonstrate, and not merely rehearse familiar (if compelling) arguments for, an alternative economics and the contribution of critical realism to this programme. This responds to two elements of the necessary challenge to mainstream economics: a political one, of strategically illuminating new issues on which an insightful political economy of the present must able to comment, such as the ‘knowledge-based’ economy, the heightened importance of innovation, technological change and socio-economic ‘rhythms’ thereof, including socio-technical systems transitions, the interaction of economy and ‘nature’ and the commercialization of research; and an epistemological one, of a reframing of the paradigms of ‘economics’ such that it can furnish critical and explanatory, not just axiomatic and ahistorical, knowledge of these inherently temporal, complex and systemic phenomena. The chapter starts this research programme with the substantive problem of developing an economics of research capable of illuminating the commercialisation of research and its interaction with and implications for broader social crises; and showing how critical realism is a crucial component in this theoretical project.