What is Economic Pluralism?
Economics is not a science based on concrete laws of nature; it is not physics or chemistry. Human behaviour is at the heart of the subject, and that makes things complicated. There is no singular correct approach, but rather a variety of many different ‘schools of economic thought’, each looking to solve economic. Each has its own different focuses, assumptions, and solutions. Economic pluralism looks to learn something from each one of them, the mainstream and the heterodox: it is not about disregarding the neoclassical paradigm, but considering others as well.
Why does Pluralism matter?
Compulsory economic modules tend to focus predominantly on Neoclassical methods, often without alluding to the existence of alternatives. This presents the idea of a consensus in the field, especially for students who only take compulsory modules. Such a consensus does not exist, and presenting otherwise is misleading at best and disingenuous at worst.
Such a one-dimensional approach to education unsurprisingly produces a plethora of economic graduates, our future policy-makers and business leaders, with a one-dimensional understanding of economic issues. Whilst they may be incredibly well-versed in mainstream theory, they tend to lack the broad, critical and innovative approach necessary to dealing with the complex, multifaceted problems. What use is that to society?
Consider the 2009 financial crisis. The economic experts did not predict it: neoclassical theory does not even render such an event possible. When the discipline so clearly fails we need a new approach to economics. A synthesis of the different schools of thought will make us to better able to critically assess them all. It will produce future economic graduates who are more informed, open-minded and innovative problem-solvers. The subject can develop without either being confined by the cage of neoclassicism, or outlawed into the taboo land of heterodoxy. We can fit our approaches to understanding the economy, and not the other way around. Maybe then the subject of economics will better reflect the world around us.