How Economics Forgot History
The Problem of Historical Specificity in Social Science
In arguably his most important book to date, Hodgson calls into question the tendency of economic method to try and explain all economic phenomena by using the same catch-all theories and dealing in universal truths. He argues that you need different theories to analyze different economic phenomena and systems and that historical context must be taken into account.
Hodgson argues that the German Historical School was key in laying the foundations for the work of the pioneer institutional economists, who themselves are gaining currency today; and that the growing interest in this school of thought is contributing to a more complete understanding of socio-economic theory.
Geoffrey M. Hodgson is a Research Professor in Business Studies at the University of Hertfordshire. He has published widely in the academic journals and his previous books include Economics and Utopia (Routledge, 1999)
'I tremendously enjoyed reading this book. Geoffrey Hodgson ... tells a fascinating tale of how economics and social science more generally became abstract and formalistic sciences with little interest in historical and institutional particularities and he develops the beginnings of an account of how the perceived shortcomings may be ameliorated ... Hodgson has done a great job in drawing attention to the fact that economic laws are true only on account of particular arrangements of institutional and cultural facts. He has written an exciting history of how this matter has been treated in the economic literature from Marx to the present day.' - Julian Reiss, Economic History Services
'An outstanding book [which] has both depth and breadth [and] is fun to read, in part because Hodgson is an excellent writer and scholar ... This is a five star text - clearly an excellent choice for individual reading and use in graduate courses in both history of thought and institutional economics.' - Professor Doug Brown (Northern Arizona University, USA), Journal of Economic Issues,
'An important contribution towards understanding the apparent confusion of economic thinking' - Professor Roger Backhouse (University of Birmingham, UK), Journal of the History of Economics
'Hodgson provides us with specific discussions on topics that can otherwise seem discouragingly abstract, and sometimes obscure! His book raises several provocative and important questions which should be recommendation enough to read.' - Dr Cristel De Rouvray (London School of Economics, UK), Business History
'A wonderful work of intellectual retrieval and redemption that brings back to life a now altogether obscure and increasingly forgotten trend in the evolution of the social sciences. Through great erudition, stylistic care and virtuosity, and splendid documentation and notation, Hodgson re-animates the historically grounded argumentation of earlier generations of economists who sought to frame their work less in terms of a general theory of human behavior and more with reference to the significance of historical change and detail.' - Professor Michael Bernstein (University of California, San Diego, USA), Business History Review
'All those who have felt uneasy about the economic-development doctrine that has been laid down over the past fifty years by the high priests of professional economics ... will find solace and vindication in Geoffrey Hodgson's brilliant book.' - Professor George C. Lodge (Harvard Business School, USA), Challenge