Locating the normative within economic science: towards the analysis of hidden discourses of democracy in international politics

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Abstract

Economic science has been overwhelmingly perceived as a ‘positive’ science, both among economists and many scholars in other social sciences. As a result, there has been an estrangement between the ‘scientific’ study of economics and the study of ‘fuzzier’ matters of normative nature. Crucially, it is often assumed that economists — whether academics or practitioners — have little to say about democracy, a concept that is famously normative and contested in nature. This article argues that this perception is mistaken and misleading. When several key figures in economic science are examined in detail, we can see that their economic theories are, in fact, deeply intertwined with certain normative visions of democracy, even if implicitly. Recognising the role of hidden normative theories of democracy within economic science perspectives is important theoretically, in re-reading the nature and scope of economic science discourses. It is also, however, important in understanding some key world political trends. It is argued here that we are in a better position to understand the curious ‘dabbling’ of global financial organisations in matters of ‘political nature’ when we remain attuned to the role of hidden democratic assumptions. Also, the complex role of these organisations in ‘democracy promotion’, and the nature of democracy promotion itself, can thus be better appreciated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-81
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • democracy promotion
  • democratic theory
  • economic science
  • global financial governance
  • normativity

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