Forum for Social Economics

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 97–108 | Cite as

What is Heterodox Economics? Conversations with Historians of Economic Thought

  • Mary V. WrennEmail author


Since its intellectual inception, the development of the economics discipline has been accompanied by divergence of thought. Through the years, particularly in the latter half of the twentieth century, a fissure has emerged within the discipline, sociologically dividing conventional, mainstream economics from the dissention of heterodox economics. The nature of that division, however, as well as the nature of heterodox thought is unclear. Historians of economic thought would seem to be uniquely suited to specify the nature of heterodox economics and the mechanism of its marginalization. Although anecdotal, personal interviews with historians of economic thought provide a breadth and depth of study not available through surveys with an immediacy not allowed by doctrinal examination. The purpose of this study and intent of this paper is to reveal the ways that orthodox and heterodox economics differ, whether heterodox economics has any clear research program other than criticizing the limits of the more orthodox view, and what aspects of heterodox economics remain underdeveloped, all through the lens of the historian of economic thought.


Heterodox economics History of economic thought and methodology Interviews Heterodox movement Pluralism 



Mary V. Wrenn wishes to acknowledge gratefully the historians of economic thought who kindly agreed to be interviewed. The author would like to thank the Goddard School of Business and Economics at Weber State University for the generous support provided through their Vitality Grant and the University for its thoughtful commitment to and support of junior faculty through the Weber Writes grant, and anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Association for Social Economics (ASE), Pomona, NH 08240-0195, USA 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics DepartmentWeber State UniversityOgdenUSA

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