This is a blog about the economic humanities. We welcome all queries, feedback, and ideas for involvement: economichumanities@gmail.com.

What are the economic humanities?

The economic humanities involve the study of all economic aspects of human life, including the study of economics itself, using the characteristic methodologies and perspectives of the humanities, as well as those borrowed from other fields.

The economic humanities may be seen as an extension of what has sometimes been called the New Economic Criticism. Adapting the memorable slogan of second-wave feminism, we might today add: “the personal is the economic.” In recent years there has been growing recognition that the study of political economy cannot be confined to mainstream economics, but must be pursued in an interdisciplinary mode able to draw on economic sociology, economic anthropology, cultural studies, media studies, critical geography, IPE, political science, philosophy, psychology, heterodox economics, institutional economics – and yes, even on mainstream economics. The economic humanities is one portal into this region of interconnected scholarship, where objects of inquiry  are allowed to generate their own forms of inquiry, without being intimidated by traditional divisions of intellectual labour.

Researchers in the economic humanities may therefore often be expected to be using concepts not traditionally associated with humanities research. The economic humanities seeks to go beyond simply defending a realm which is supposed in advance to lie outside positivist understandings, and instead moves fluently into and outside of such understandings, both advancing and critiquing them as necessary. However, the economic humanities also has its “own” distinctive interests, more overtly continuous with those of history and historiography, philosophy, literary studies and theory, drama studies and performance theory, etc. These include:

  • approaching economies through the lens of the environmental humanities
  • exploring how economies and economics produces truth, knowledge, and power
  • reading the figurative and performative dimensions of economic models
  • narrative forms (thought experiments, illustrations, etc.) within economics
  • homo economicus and the subject of economic discourse
  • the rhetorical and aesthetic dimensions of theoretical texts of political economy
  • the rhetorical and aesthetic dimensions of corporate ethics and corporate citizenship
  • the semiotics of finance, including the relationship between technical and fundamental analyses
  • religion, theology, secularization, and political economy; economic theodicy and oikodicy
  • cognitive, cultural and ideological capture in audit and regulation
  • the professionalization of accountancy, audit and finance
  • the construction of rationality, legitimacy and materiality within audit and assurance practices, within financial and CR reporting practices, and within stakeholder engagement practices
  • the ethics and epistemology of business, and the cultural and intellectual interactions between business and economics
  • performance and affect in finance, including phenomena such as trust, confidence, panic, exuberance, etc.
  • the use of literary texts as sources within economic history and anthropology, and within econometrics and other forms of qualitative analysis
  • the role of the ludic in game theory
  • the role of political economy within other “new” humanities fields such as environmental humanities, medical and health humanities, and digital humanities
  • reflexivity and auto-critique, including scrutiny of the interdisciplinary turn in political economy itself