BAEcon Development Studies

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Power, Economics, and a Return to Political Economy

Unit code ECON32132
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Economics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

The general aim of this course is to help students understand the reasons why mainstream economics neglects power relations, the implications of this for the ability of economists to explain the distribution of income and wealth, and problems associated with the persistence of poverty and inequality, and the ways in which this important oversight might be addressed.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Principles of Microeconomic Theory 2: Markets, Prices and Strategy ECON10172 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Principles of Microeconomic Theory 2: Markets, Prices and Strategy ECON20172 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Microeconomics 2 ECON10232 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Microeconomics 2 ECON20232 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
(ECON10172 or ECON20172) and (ECON10232 or ECON20232)

 ECON10172

Microeconomic Analysis 2

Pre-Requisite

Compulsory 

 ECON10232

Microeconomics 2

Pre-Requisite

Compulsory 

 ECON20172

Microeconomic Analysis 2

Pre-Requisite

Compulsory 

 ECON20232

Microeconomics 2

Pre-Requisite

Compulsory 

ECON10232 Micro 2 or ECON10172 Micro Analysis 2

Aims

The general aim of this course is to help students understand the reasons why mainstream
economics neglects power relations, the implications of this for the ability of economists to explain the distribution of income and wealth, and problems associated with the persistence of poverty and inequality, and the ways in which this important oversight might be addressed

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students should be able to:

 

Knowledge and Understanding

  1. The implications of the transition from 19th century political economy to modern-day mainstream economics.
  2. Concepts of power.
  3. The foundations of microeconomic theory, welfare economics and social choice theory and their limitations.
  4. Possible alternative approaches, drawing on cooperative game theory and political economics, which might allow power relations to be incorporated into the standard microeconomic theoretical framework.

 

Intellectual skill

(i)   Non-mathematical analytical skills.

(ii)  Literature review

(iii)  A broader understanding of where economics sits within the social sciences.

 

Practical skills

(i)   Presentation skills (from joint tutorial presentations).

(ii)  Writing skills.

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

(i)   Discussion and debating skills

(ii)  Team work (from joint tutorial presentations)

Syllabus

  1. Why economics ignores power, and why this is important for understanding the real world: The Post Crash Economics Society and Piketty.
  2. Review of microeconomic theory, welfare economics and social choice theory.
  3. Concepts and definitions of power.
  4. Review cooperative game theory/Nash bargaining, and political economics concepts of economic and political equilibria.
  5. The political economy function and political economy equilibria.
  6. Applications: Coase, Corn Laws, induced innovation theory, Piketty convergence and divergence, Acemoglu and Robinson growth with extractive and inclusive institutions

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures & Tutorials

Knowledge and understanding

The implications of the transition from 19 century political economy to modern-day mainstream economics.

•       Concepts of power.

•       the foundations of microeconomic theory, welfare economics and social choice theory and their limitations.

•       Possible alternative approaches, drawing on cooperative game theory and political economics, which might allow power relations to be incorporated into the standard microeconomic theoretical framework. 

Intellectual skills

  • Non-mathematical analytical skills.
  • Literature review
  • A broader understanding of where economics sits within the social sciences.

Practical skills

  • Presentation skills (from joint tutorial presentations).
  • Writing skills.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Discussion and debating skills
  • Team work (from joint tutorial presentations)

Assessment methods

•         2 essays weighted 50% each

•         First essay (2000 words) title:

–        Explain the meaning of the terms “Pareto efficiency” and “social welfare”. Critically examine the libertarian, utilitarian, Rawlsian and egalitarian views of equity, and explain why there may be a conflict between efficiency and equity objectives.

–        Submission deadline: Friday 13th March

•         Second essay (2000 words) – one of the following titles:

–        “The decisive weakness in neoclassical economics...is not the error in the assumptions by which it elides the problem of power...Rather in eliding power – in making economics a non-political subject – neoclassical theory, by the process, destroys its relation with the real world” (Galbraith, 1973).  Discuss.

–        Explain the relationship between the Nash bargaining problem and the social welfare function, and discuss how they may relate to the study of power.

–        Explain the proof to Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem and Sen’s criticisms of the theorem. Discuss their implications, if any, for the analysis of role of power in determining economic outcomes.

–          Submission deadline: Friday 1st May

Feedback methods

If time and resources permit, anonymized copies of all the first ECON32132 essays submitted, without the provisional marks but with the first marker’s comments added to them, will be made available via Blackboard before the submission date for the second essay. Thus, students will benefit from the feedback on other students’ essays as well as their own

Recommended reading

1.       Ozanne (2016), “Power and Neoclassical Economics: A Return to Political Economy in the Teaching of Economics”, Palgrave Macmillan. The e-book is available from John Rylands University Library’s website at:

https://www.librarysearch.manchester.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=44MAN_ALMA_DS21304667980001631&context=L&vid=MU_NUI&search_scope=BLENDED&tab=local&lang=en_US

2.       R. Bartlett (1989, 2008), “Economics and Power: An Enquiry into Human Relations and Markets”, Cambridge University Press.

Further recommended readings will be listed during lectures and/or posted on Blackboard.

 

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Adam Ozanne Unit coordinator

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