Carlo D'Ippoliti, "Democratizing the Economics Debate: Pluralism and Research Evaluation" (Routledge, 2020)

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I spoke with Dr. Carlo D’Ippoliti, Professor of Economics at the Department of statistical sciences, Sapienza University of Rome. We talked about Democratizing the Economics Debate; Pluralism and Research Evaluation. This was published in 2020 by Routledge.

It is a great book, almost a manifesto for better economics, divided into three parts: 1 How economics should be; 2 What economics is; 3 What economics could become. The book speaks to colleagues but it is perfectly accessible to students and non specialists too.

It is a book about the profession of the economist, its social relevance and responsibility. It is a book about pluralism and the impact of economics on democracy and policy making. It is a book about the metrics that we use to assess the quality of research and the dynamics that dominate the field, from careers to the tyranny of top mainstream journals.

More than a decade since the global financial crisis, economics does not exhibit signs of significant change. Mainstream economists act on an idealized image of science, which includes the convergence of all perspectives into a single supposed scientific truth.

Democratizing the Economics Debate shows that this idealized image both provides an inadequate description of what science should be and misrepresents the recent past and current state of economics. Economics has always been characterized by a plurality of competing perspectives and research paradigms, however, there is evidence of a worrying global involution in the last 40 years. Even as the production of economics publications has exploded, the economics debate is becoming less plural and increasingly hierarchical. Among several causes, the tendency to conformism has been exacerbated in recent years with the use of formal schemes of research quality evaluation. This book documents how such schemes now cover more than half of all economists worldwide and reviews the impact of biased methods of research evaluation on the stunting of levels of pluralism in economics.

The book will be of interest to anyone who worries for the state of the democratic debate. As experts who intervene in the public debate, economists must assure society that they are working in the best possible way, which includes fostering a wide and fair scientific debate. It is this test of social legitimacy that economics currently fails.

This contribution perfectly complements two other books that Carlo has recently edited with his colleagues: 'The Routledge Handbook of Heterodox Economics' (Routledge International Handbooks) and 'Classical Economics Today, Essays in Honor of Alessandro Roncaglia' (Anthem Other Canon Economics).

Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK.

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