The project yet again

December 26, 2019

Time, perhaps, for one of my frequent updates on how I see ‘the broader intellectual project’. Over the last however many years, these updates have slowly whittled the project down from the truly megalomaniacal to the merely overly ambitious. This post, I suppose, is in the service of further pruning.

I submitted my Ph.D. thesis this month, so hopefully I’m getting towards a time when I will have more attention for other matters. As I think I’ve said before, I’d wanted to do a Ph.D. in economics in part in the hope that it would give me some macroeconomic background. That hasn’t happened in any meaningful sense. What I have acquired, instead, is some background in institutional political economy, as well as the economics of science and innovation.

I expect to slowly let the ‘science and innovation’ side of things fade away from my skill set over time (unless I somehow get a job that calls on these skills). However, institutional political economy is relevant to the core long-term interests of ‘the project’.

As I see it, whatever I might have intended, I am now an ‘institutional political economist’, with a somewhat abstract and philosophical orientation to that disciplinary space. I expect my core research programme for a long time to come to inhabit this terrain.

Specifically, I have two very broad research areas within ‘institutional political economy’:

First, I am interested in the foundations of political-economic institutional analysis: the adequacy or different metatheoretical toolkits for analysing political-economic institutions.

Second, I am interested in the principles of political-economic institution design: what should we be thinking about when we try to construct political-economic institutions with normatively and politically desirable properties?

These are obviously very abstract and broad ‘research programmes’ – I imagine much more pruning of the project’s scope and articulation will be necessary moving forward. Moreover, as I’ve mentioned here before, I am now living in Aotearoa New Zealand, and getting to grips with the history, politics, culture, etc. of my new country is going to be a focus of a lot of intellectual energy going forward.

Still, this is where I am, right now, on the verge of 2020.