1st Edition

Making Economics Public The Hows and Whys of Communicating Markets and Models

Edited By Vicki Macknight, Fabien Medvecky Copyright 2023
    148 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    148 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Economics – macro, micro and mysterious – is integral to everyday life. But despite its importance for personal and collective decision making, it is a discipline often viewed as technical, arcane and inaccessible and thus overlooked in public discourse. This book is a call to arms to bring the discipline of economics more into the public domain. It calls on economists to think about how to make their knowledge of the economics public. And it calls on those who specialise in communicating expert knowledge to help us learn to communicate about economics. The book brings together scholars and practitioners working at the early stages of an emerging field: the public communication of, and public engagement with, economics. Through a series of short essays from academics and practitioners, the book has two key goals: first and foremost, it will make a case for why we need to make economics public and for the importance of having a clear vision of what it means to make economics public. Secondly, it suggests some ways that this can be done featuring contributions from practitioners, including economists, who are engaging audiences in newspapers, museums and beyond. This book is essential reading for those in economics with an interest in making economics public and those already in the many fields dedicated to communicating expert knowledge in public spaces who have an interest in where economics can fit.

    More information about the book can be found here: https://www.makingeconomicspublic.org/

    Introduction: Why Make Economics Public?
    Vicki Macknight and Fabien Medvecky

    Section One Why Should We Make Economics More Public?

    1 Towards a Political Economy of Public Understanding of Economics
    John Durant

    2 Power and Economics
    Pierre Benz, Jens Maesse, Stephan Pühringer and Thierry Rossier

    3 What Do People Know about Economics … and What Should They Know?
    Anna Killick

    Section Two How to Make Economics Public?

    4 Public-Facing Economists
    Romesh Vaitilingam

    5 How the Economy Museum Makes Economic Public
    Thomas Shepherd and Eva Johnston

    6 The Networks of Economics: Economics About the Public Should Be for the Public
    The Rethinking Economics Team

    7 More Talk, Less Chalk: Communicating Economics in the Modern Classroom
    Christopher L. Colvin

    Section Three Challenges in Communicating Economics

    8 Knowing Economics with Your Phone
    Vicki Macknight

    9 The Problem of Politics in Communicating Economics
    Kevin Albertson

    10 Who Are the Economic Experts?: How Can One Tell?
    Carlo Martini

    11 Ethical Considerations in Making Economics Public
    Joan Leach and Fabien Medvecky

    Section Four Economics in a Democratic World

    12 Free Speech, Rhetoric, and a Free Economy
    Deirdre Nansen McCloskey


    Vicki Macknight works in the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago. Her work has been published in a range of journals. She is the author of Imagining Classrooms: Stories of Children, Teaching and Ethnography (2016).

    Fabien Medvecky is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Science Communication at the University of Otago. Armed with graduate degrees in Philosophy and Economics, he studies the relationship between knowledge and society and how social interactions shape, create and direct what counts as knowledge. Dr Medvecky is especially interested in areas that are challenging and uncomfortable, from ethical and justice issues in communicating information to questions over contentious or controversial science and technologies (gene tech, alternative medicine, etc.). He also has a long-running interest in how economics (the discipline, not the economy) is made public and how that interacts with other forms of knowledge and expertise.

    “The movement for better public engagement with science often focuses on the natural sciences. Macknight and Medvecky have brought together authors who push us to the harder problem: public engagement with SOCIAL sciences. Knowing about economics is probably more fundamental to being an informed and engaged citizen than knowing about physics or biology. This important book opens new opportunities for research and practice in how publics engage with economics.”

    Bruce Lewenstein, Professor of Science Communication, Departments of Communication and of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

    “The stakes are high when it comes to the public discussion of economics. The subject is technical – close to a science – which means setting out an economic decision in a simple and clear way can be hard. But unlike the sciences, economics is hard-wired into policy decisions that affect all of us, every day. Making Economics Public shows the huge risks that result – from poorly understood policies to outright dishonesty – and what we must do about it. Each author contributes to establishing the central problem: while we constantly chew over the economy – markets, prices, unemployment – in public debate, discussion of the underlying economics that drive these outcomes is scant. Making Economics Public is a bold step towards rectifying this problem, packed with examples of how and why public discourse can be so thin, shallow and opaque, and what can be done about it. The book should be a mandatory read for policy economists and will be an enlightening read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the forces shaping our lives.”

    Richard Davies, Professor of the Public Understanding of Economics, University of Bristol