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Political interpretative flexibility and the economics of inflation and unemployment

Stephens, Neil James 2008. Political interpretative flexibility and the economics of inflation and unemployment. [Working Paper]. School of Social Sciences Working Papers Series, vol. 114. Cardiff: Cardiff University. Available at:

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Macroeconomics is political. The very variables used in macroeconomic models – unemployment, inflation, interest rates – are frequently heard in political debate. The work of macroeconomists underlies these discussions as it mingles in contested political narratives. In this paper I present the findings of a research project studying macroeconomists working on the relationship between unemployment and inflation between the 1960s and early 1980s. Central to the paper is the macroeconomists own political beliefs and how they shape their economic modelling. A minority saw no relationship between their macroeconomic work and their political beliefs. Yet many others did identify exactly that; often seeing their academic work as a political activity. The fascination here is in the contingency of these connections; how each individual negotiates the complexity and ambiguity of the political connotations of their own work. I develop the concept of Political Interpretative Flexibility to aid our understanding of how macroeconomists can (a) espouse similar theories yet inscribe radically different political connotations, and (b) promote similar political agendas through radically different economic theories.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Publisher: Cardiff University
ISBN: 9781904815754
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2017 03:21

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