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Crossing Boundaries, Displacing Previous Knowledge and Claiming Superiority: Is the Economics of Discrimination a Conquest of Economics Imperialism?

Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche ()

No 5_2015, STOREPapers from Associazione Italiana per la Storia dell'Economia Politica - StorEP

Abstract: Becker’s work on discrimination is commonly viewed as one of the first expressions of “economics imperialism”. This paper challenges this view by looking at previous and later works on discrimination. Two elements define economics imperialism: the crossing of established frontiers between approaches and disciplines and the intention of substituting one approach for another. Section 1 briefly presents the origins of economics imperialism and proposes a two-aspects definition of the concept. Section 2 contextualizes Becker’s model of discrimination as imperialism “within economics” rather than towards other social sciences. Section 3 characterizes Arrow’s statistical discrimination as a humble theoretical imperialism, calling for the complementarity of social sciences rather than for the superiority of economics. Section 4 states that empirical measurements of discrimination in economics are a type of empirical imperialism essentially because these methods replace other social sciences in their contexts of expertise.

Keywords: Economics imperialism; Discrimination (history of); Racial discrimination; Statistical discrimination; Becker (Gary S.); Arrow (Kenneth J.) (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B40 B20 A14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hpe and nep-sog
Date: 2015-12
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