My “somewhat grumpy”:https://crookedtimber.org/2009/06/22/economics-as-sociologys-other/ post last week has turned into a much less grumpy discussion with other parties via email, and, perhaps, an actual paper sometime not too far in the future. But in the interim, I came across a really nice piece by Marion Fourcade, which says some of what I was saying, but more temperately, and with proper analysis. Key quotes:

As mainstream economics, following the lead of Gary Becker, started to venture into a number of traditionally sociological jurisdictions (such as the family, crime, or education), intellectual exchange, if not outright competition with economics, was progressively constructed as a legitimate professional goal—thereby challenging the tacit disciplinary division in effect since the time of Talcott Parsons … Indeed, the competitive origins of the “new” economic sociology are especially clear in the _rhetoric_ of a number of foundational papers and programmatic statements, all of which motivate their own enterprise by the challenge it offers to utilitarian approaches. A few illustrations will be sufficient … White’s (1981) foundational paper … Granovetter’s seminal contribution … Hirsch, Michaels, and Friedman … both editions of the _Handbook of Economic Sociology_ … The point is clear: The orientation, generally competitive and always informed, toward the most powerful social science, was a much clearer intellectual starting point than the connection to earlier forms of economic sociology.

The piece (which has a very helpful general overview of debates in economic sociology) was published by the _American Behavioral Scientist_ and is available “here”:http://abs.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/50/8/1015 for those with institutional access. An ungated version should be available “here”:http://sociology.berkeley.edu/faculty/fourcade-gourinchas/pdf/ABS_2007.pdf, but I can’t get the link to work for me (others may perhaps have better luck) – thanks to Andrei in comments for a “working link”:http://sociology.berkeley.edu/profiles/fourcade/pdf/ABS_2007.pdf.

Two steps behind

by John Quiggin on June 29, 2009

Over the last week or two, there has been a lot of discussion of the idea of Obama leading from “two steps behind”, initially in relation to the Iran protests1, and then as a general description of his operating style. There’s an obvious link to the famous quote attributed to FDR, “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”

But, how should Obama’s supporters respond to this, particularly on civil liberties issues such as detention withour trial where Obama is not only two steps behind but often appears to be going in the opposite direction? Suppose that Obama really wants to deliver on his campaign rhetoric about openness and due process, but is facing powerful resistance from within permanent power centres such as the CIA. Hence, it might be supposed, Obama has to put up a show of resistance, and needs his supporters to make enough noise to compel him to fulfil his promises

How, if at all does such a situation differ from one in which Obama is a natural centrist wants to backslide on promises made to secure his base in the election year, but can be held to his promises by sufficiently vociferous pressure?

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