Fifteen years after the Global Financial Crisis: Recessions and Business Cycles in the History of Economic Thought

On the Idea of Progress as a (New) Process: Controversies between the “Old School” economists and the “Progressive economists” during the Progressive Era

Vallet Guillaume, Université Grenoble Alpes, CREG

Our purpose is to stimulate contributions that explore the concept of ‘progress’ and its economic achievements in Progressive Era American Economics (1890-1920). During this period many economists and social reformers put forth the idea of ‘progress’ to radically transform the American economy and society in order to reduce different kinds of inequalities as well as several conflicts among different social groups. Likewise, during the Progressive Era, the idea that American academia must serve as the headquarters for the development of the notion of ‘progress’ became important. When studying this period, economists usually take for granted what ‘progress’ and being progressive meant at that time and they do not question its possible implications. Likewise, too often the scientific debate rests on a clear separation between the alleged conservative ideas of the American heirs of the Classical school and the progressive ideas from of the “new” wave of American economists influenced by the German Historical School. Such a stance tends either to simplify reality or to underrate some key features of the economists’ mindsets of the period. From this, we can raise the issue: to what extent the controversies on ‘progress’ were grounded in the field of economics at the time? Indeed, although debates among American economists of the Progressive Era proved to be crucial for American economics, they were also connected to other international influences. Beyond the influence of the German Historical School on some American progressives which is well documented, much remains to be done about the debates between the so-called Progressives and the Classical school, the role of Marxist economists, the rise of institutionalists as well as marginal economists, and also, about the international networks of these American economists. Such a focus is crucial to understand the move from the “old” to the “new” generation of economists at the time as well as the emergence of new frontiers between economic currents, new paradigms in economics and new types of economic policies. Therefore, this session aims to investigate the scientific controversies about ‘progress’ during the Progressive Era through several lines of inquiries. Robert Dimand (Brock University): “Irving Fisher on Conservation, National Vitality and Economic Progress” Luca Fiorito (Università di Palermo) and Valentina Erasmo (Università degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti e Pescara): “Religion and the Struggle for Existence. A Note on the Simon N. Patten-Thomas N. Carver Debate” Guillaume Vallet (Université Grenoble Alpes): “The 'Tricks of the Trade': How to promote progress through trade according to Albion Small"

Area: Eshet Conference

Keywords: Progressive Era; Progress; Scientific Controversies

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