Reflexivity of Anticipations in Economics and Political Economy
When the social reality is changing, we need to know also the following: What exactly is changing and why? To what extent is reflexivity involved in changes that take part in making the future uncertain and open? For instance, an announced policy change can become a self-altering prediction (or involve such a prediction), which is subject to contradictory and complementary determination, resulting either in net self-fulfilling or self-denying tendency. I approach these questions also by analyzing two significant real-world historical examples, the Euro crisis and global financial crises. Both examples involve reflexive predictions, reflexive feedback loops, and performativity. What I find particularly striking is how the capitalist market economy – with all the historical shifts and changes in its institutions, regulations, and political structures – has managed to retain at least some of its recurrent economic patterns. Further, I examine the general methodological problem of the absence of decisive tests between theories. This has consequences: normative and ideological positions evolve easily and tend to fortify themselves rapidly; and actors can modify, perhaps inadvertently, their public anticipations in line with their interests or normative aims. In the final section, I argue that the main aim of social sciences is not to predict accurately but to bring about desirable outcomes, explaining how to move from strategic actions and reflexive ideologies to emancipation.
KeywordsContrastive demi-regularity Emancipation Fallibility Goodhart’s law Lucas critique Self-altering tendency Uncertainty
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