The subjects of economics and politics were combined as political economy in the works of many of the great thinkers of the nineteenth century. However, in the later part of that period, the study of economic behaviour became largely divorced from that of social and political behaviour and, in the first part of the present century, economics advanced in isolation from the other social sciences. Economists approached the analysis of economic behaviour in terms of rational choice analysis: they specified a set of assumptions which provided for individual or collective actors to choose between alternatives upon the basis of the maximization of utilities, and formally derived propositions from these to explain choices between bundles of goods and services. It was considered, by sociologists and political scientists as well as some economists, that the assumptions necessary in order to posit individual rationality were less appropriate in the spheres of social or political life than in the context of choices between competing bundles of goods and services. The basis of this assertion was stated by Schumpeter1 in that, while rationality played some part in economic life, ‘the typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field.
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