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The Autonomy of the Political within Political Economy

The Austrian and Bloomington Schools of Political Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78714-844-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-843-7

Publication date: 17 October 2017


Political economy is a term in wide use and has been for centuries. Yet standard economic theory reduces politics to ethics or economics. This reduction is enabled by the presumption of closed choice data or given utility and cost functions. In this conceptual framework, the political vanishes into an activity of preference satisfaction according to a welfare function (ethics) or into trade (economics). To bring the political back to life within a theory of political economy requires that closed schemes of thought be replaced by open schemes. The ways in which individuals react to the indeterminacy of their subjective choice data, in innocuous small-scale settings as well as in situations of dramatic exception to constitutional rules, separates them into leaders and followers. Followership creates an opportunity for political enterprise at the social level (enterprise in rules) and at the subjective level (enterprise in visions of options, and hence preferences). At both levels the political comes to the fore of political economy as an answer to the “challenge of exception.” Much of our inspiration for this argument traces to the work of Friedrich Wieser, Carl Schmitt, and Vincent Ostrom.




We are thankful to Paul Dragos Aligica, Peter J. Boettke, James Caton, Christopher Coyne, Erwin Dekker, Tudor Glodeanu, Laurentiu Gheorghe, Roger Koppl, Peter Leeson, Paul Lewis, Emi Socaciu, David Schmidtz, Virgil Storr, Radu Uszkai, and Constantin Vica for valuable ideas and directions.


Sterpan, I. and Wagner, R.E. (2017), "The Autonomy of the Political within Political Economy", The Austrian and Bloomington Schools of Political Economy (Advances in Austrian Economics, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 133-157.



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