The Next Thing

April 9, 2012

As readers of the blog (if such there be) will know, my current ongoing project (or, I suppose, sub-project) is a document on the implications of the work of Robert Brandom for social theory. I’m keen to get that document done, but it’s on the back-burner for now, while work and life take well-deserved priority. Still, things churn away in the brain cell, and I’ve been thinking a bit what the next thing to do is, once the Brandom document is complete.

My master-plan for the overall project has (as, again, readers may conceivably recall) six broad stages. The first three of these were, in order:

1) Social-theoretic foundations [the Brandom document]
2) History of capitalism
3) Analysis of value theory

(The remaining stages were, more or less, variations on ‘do political economy’)

I’d planned to move on to my (very brief!) history of capitalism once the Brandom document was done. My idea was that social theory and economic history were the broad areas of study that need to inform an adequate economics, but that are under-represented in current economics education – so I thought I’d get some basic grounding in these areas, before approaching economics itself.

My worry: if I do this, I’ll never get to the economics :-P. So: I’ve had a rethink. I still intend to write a history of capitalism, but I’m now seeing this as something to do in the interstices of my other studies.

This leaves the question: what to move on to once the Brandom document is complete?

The way I currently see it, contemporary economics has two broad areas of technical expertise:

First, statistical analysis of economic data.
Second, modelling of economic structures.
And, of course (third, if you like), drawing connections between them.

Obviously each of these areas have their formal and contentful aspects – the formal being simply how to do statistical analysis or modelling; the contentful being analysis of actual economic data, or discussion of actual economic models.

I want to start getting to grips with these technical areas of economics sooner rather than later. My current background concern is: how. I’m considering taking a higher degree in statistics – or just autodidacting may way through the terrain, as usual. This will have the advantage of having real-world application (i.e. I can use it on the job market, which is important); and it has the further advantage that I have a lot of respect for orthodox statistical theory and practice (whereas I have very little respect for orthodox economic models and modelling) – so I’m less likely to flame out of these studies in the kind of bitter rage that motivates this blog as a space to do heterodox intellectual work. The downside is that statistics still isn’t economics proper – so it’s still a postponement of (what I regard as) the core of my project.

Just putting this up to externalise and help along the thought-process, really. Also to explain a shift in content on the blog – I’m still not blogging properly again, but I aim to starting putting up statistics-related content; this is why.

I hope folks out there are well.

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2 Responses to “The Next Thing”

  1. Nick Srnicek Says:

    If you haven’t already come across it, I’ve heard excellent things about this book: http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_History_of_Econometric_Ideas.html?id=iUpDzJM9lq0C&redir_esc=y

  2. duncan Says:

    Thanks Nick – I’ll check it out.


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