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Choice and habit in history

Hudson, Patricia 2006. Choice and habit in history. Shakai-Keizaishigaku or Socio-Economic History 72 (3) , pp. 3-18.

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This paper questions the current disciplinary boundaries between action defined as 'economic' (and analysed by economists and economic historians as such) and the rest of social life which is generally left to other specialists. This involves addressing the supposedly antithetical approaches of social science on the one hand and hermeneutic enquiry on the other. Starting with a brief autobiographical excursus that implicitly highlights the close relationship between the subject and the object of study, the supposed polarisations between science and description, deduction and induction, quantitative and qualitative approaches, numbers and words are considered. Finally, the concept of everyday life is discussed as a sort of second nature in which people orientate themselves without deliberate reflection: a set of influences that frame all decision making within norms and values that emanate from home, family, community and locality. Everyday life - habitual and unreflective - has not been the focus of either history or social science. It has been particularly absent from economic analysis because of exclusive concentration upon deliberative, 'rational' action and choice. Via brief discussion of the overlap between heterodox economics and a hermeneutic understanding of everyday actions that have a material impact, the paper concludes with an argument in favour of a complementarity rather than a bifurcation of approaches to economic behaviour, past and present.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
ISSN: 0038-0113
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Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:52

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