Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 444–462

Politics and economics: Beyond the contamination thesis

  • Ryan Walter

DOI: 10.1057/cpt.2010.35

Cite this article as:
Walter, R. Contemp Polit Theory (2011) 10: 444. doi:10.1057/cpt.2010.35


The relationship between politics and economic knowledge is contested. One general view claims that economics should be devoid of politics because of its corrupting effects, while another view posits the converse – that politics can be distorted by the impact of economic knowledge. Both views hold that the solution is to remove the influence of the one on the other. I construe these two broad views as variations on the same contamination thesis, the idea that politics and economics are separate domains and so should not contaminate one another. I suggest that this thesis is a version of the political/non-political distinction required by the ubiquitous ideal of a self-governing community, and that it therefore exhibits the limitations intrinsic to this ideal. The remedial possibilities of Michel Foucault's investigations into governmentality are then briefly explored.



Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan Walter
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia