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Appears in Collections:Economics eTheses
Title: Foucault's archaeology of political economy: for a rethinking of the methodology and historiography of economics
Author(s): Lima, Iara V.
Supervisor(s): Dow, Sheila C.
Carrette, Jeremy R.
Issue Date: Aug-2006
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis has two main objectives. First, it accomplishes a detailed critical reading of Michel Foucault’s writings on the archaeology of knowledge, focusing on the emergence of political economy. Second, it explores some possibilities opened up by his work for a rethinking of the historiography and methodology of economics. The first results from the fact that there have been very few assessments of his archaeology of economics, not only in economics itself, but also in the fields of philosophy and history of thought in general. Although it may be possible to find some applications in economics of notions and concepts introduced by him, this has mostly been done without a detailed critical analysis of his writings. Thus, it is considered here that it is first necessary to go back to his writings and to develop a very careful reading of them in order to be able to explore them in a second stage. As for the second, the main argument is that his archaeology has important contributions that are still missing by economists. The study is developed in two parts. The first part is dedicated to a meticulous reading of the The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Order of Things, ending up with an assessment. Part II develops an analysis of his contributions in three areas of research in economics: methodology of economics, historiography of economic thought, and studies on Adam Smith’s context. This analysis is considered itself an important contribution of this thesis. Chapter 3 situates Foucault’s perspective and system among other current interests in economic methodology, comprising basically three parts. First, it identifies one common fundamental question underlying some of these interests, that is, whether there is an underlying configuration in knowledge that permits us to think what we think in economics in a certain moment in time and space. It is argued that Foucault’s archaeology makes important contributions to this strand. Second, it compares his approach to the current interest in rhetorical studies in economics. Third, it gives special attention to the historiography of economic thought through the investigation of the interplay between the notion of the ‘episteme’ and the Kuhnian concept of ‘paradigm’. Chapter 4 explores and assesses his archaeology of political economy in The Order of Things and briefly indicates some of the important ideas provided by him in his lectures at the Collège de France in 1978-79, which give some hints for the possibility of investigating the current epistemic context underlying economics. The last chapter concentrates on Smith’s writings on language and rhetoric, the methodological conception underlying his writings, and the notion of invisible hand, according to Foucault’s system. This latter essentially shows the potentiality for his system to improve the level of consciousness of our past and emphasizes that it opens up a series of possibilities of further and interesting inquiries. The thesis concludes with an appraisal of Foucault’s contribution and additional issues for further enquiry.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: Stirling Management School

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