NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 61, No. 1 (Spring 1994)

April 1, 1994

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

David Gordon

'Twixt the Cup and the Lip: Mainstream Economics and the Formation of Economic Policy

This article presents an argument regarding the mainstream economics and the formation of economic policy in the US. On a wide variety of economic policy issues, neoclassical economists tend to support a narrow policy orientation that insists on elevating considerations of efficiency over those of equity that leans consistently toward reliance on the free market, that favors enticements rewarding capital income and promoting capital formation instead of supporting workers and their earnings. In mainstream economics, there are many slips between the scholarly cup and the advisory lip.

 

John Eatwell

Institutions, Efficiency, and the Theory of Economic Policy

This article argues that economics consists of exercises designed solely to advance theoretical or econometric technique. If usefulness and efficiency are the objectives of the discipline, then the relative success of economics at any one time might reasonably be judged by how nearly economic goals are being met. When things are not going well, policy makers and opinion formers are always desperate for new ideas. They can be readily influenced by schemes which hold out the promise of working. Presented with coherent, practical, broadly supported, and convincing arguments, they are liable to accept them.

 

Talal Asad

Ethnographic Representation, Statistics, and Modern Power

This article examines the role statistical representation has played in creating the world of modern power that anthropologists inhabit. Much has been written on how the anthropologist's experience in the field comes to be inscribed as authoritative ethnography. Although in this effort the rhetorical structures of ethnographic representation have been usefully explored, the main interest in this essay is different. The author asks how the problem of representation is addressed when the mode of inquiry is fieldwork and how this compares with representation in social statistics. The author then reflects on some political implications of this contrast.

 

Reiner Schürmann and Charles T. Wolfe

Concerning Philosophy in the United States

This article retraces the antecedents and consequences of a historically decisive turning-point in the relations between philosophy and the national question in the US Philosophy, just like culture in general, took on increasingly mottled tones in the US depending on the waves of immigration. That is to say that few doctrines or convictions exist in the new world which were not traced out upon those of the old world. But it is one thing to speak of philosophy in the US and another to speak of American philosophy. The latter is not over a hundred years old. It was born in New England after the Civil War.

 

Louise A. Tilly

Women, Women's History, and the Industrial Revolution

This article explores the contribution of women's history to the understanding of industrial revolution in Great Britain. The contribution of women's history to the classic questions about capitalist industrialization is part of the dual process of de-economizing and socializing economic history and re-economizing social history. The social historical strand of women's history has taken seriously the interdependence of production and reproduction in its effort to merge economic, social, and, indeed, political history. Thus, it serves as an example of how social history can broaden its purview.

 

Nathan Kogan

Aesthetics and Its Origins: Some Psychobiological and Evolutionary Considerations

This article inquires whether a case can be made for an innate psychological disposition to respond to and produce objects and events traditionally associated with the aesthetic domain. One may well ask how it is possible to search for psychobiological universals in the context of the enormous cultural diversity that distinguishes the arts. There is no inherent contradiction here, however. Culture obviously influences both the content and style of artistic products and performances. The author is inquiring, rather, into whether there is an innate psychobiological base upon which cultural influences build.

 

Shlomo Breznitz

Stress in the Prison of Its Success

This article discusses the concept of stress, the features of its growing complexity, and the factors contributing to its rapid spread. Competent research in the stress area is growing more complex for three separate reasons. First, there are the intrinsic developments typical of any developing science. Second, the need to bridge the gap between distant disciplines adds major complexity. Finally, the author submits that the field is attempting to emancipate itself from the stifling hug of its own popularity. If this argument is valid, it once again demonstrates how the forces that led to the rise of the stress area continue to shape its future.

 

Janet Abu-Lughod

Diversity, Democracy, and Self-Determination in an Urban Neighborhood: The East Village of Manhattan

This article suggests strategies for conducting meaningful and more reliable case studies of diversified urban subareas by describing a completed collective research project undertaken in the East Village of lower Manhattan in New York. The final point is that some of the approaches developed in the study of the East Village may contribute not only to a revival of the genre of neighborhood studies in urban sociology but may have wider conceptual value. Neighborhood studies resist mystification because they make it possible to observe, on the ground and close to the subjects, processes which are not dissimilar to those occurring at much higher levels of scale.

 

 

 

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