History of economics teaching and pluralism in Brazil..

Ramón García Fernández and Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak have a nice piece (based on their paper here).

They wrote how economics teaching started and grew in Brazil. Through several forces, the economics community in Brazil is fairly diversified.

Science grows and evolves through theories, models, laboratories, field research and large databases, but also, crucially, through the conventions, pacts, and compromises that scientists, as members of social communities, establish to organize their own professional lives. Sociologists of scientific knowledge have made this point many times over, but even if their studies have given us fascinating examples of how social interactions within scientific communities influence their research outcomes, it is still difficult for us to envisage how this may affect the everyday workings of contemporary science. Take, for instance, a paper on behavioral finance published in the American Economic Review by a scholar from the MIT: do we stop to ponder the gender composition of the behavioral finance community, the peer review practices followed by AER, or the hiring procedures at MIT before interpreting the paper’s results? Most people probably do not.

The Brazilian economics community offers an interesting case study because its roots remain quite visible. Although many self-trained economists, coming from different intellectual perspectives, have made important contributions throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the field has existed as a stable academic discipline in the country for only about 50 years. Moreover, training and research in economics as practiced in Brazil stands apart from most other cases worldwide due to one remarkable feature: pluralism. In the country’s top-level economics departments, we find scholars working in a wide array of theoretical traditions: neoclassical, post-Keynesian, evolutionary, Marxian, institutionalist, structuralist, and Sraffian, to name just a few. The same diversity is also reflected in Brazilian journals, awards, research grants, and other important symbols of academic prestige. 

Pluralism, however, is not simply a fact of life in Brazilian economics. It is rather a value shared by a large part of the scientific community, a commitment to diversity and tolerance that is enshrined, for instance, in the directives issued by the Ministry of Education for regulating undergraduate programs in economics. These norms require observance of “methodological pluralism, in consonance with the plural character of economic science, comprising diverse paradigms and currents of thought.” In our on-going research project, we have tried to uncover the process that led to the emergence of this pluralistic consensus.

Nice bit.


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