Heterodox Economics as a Group of Heterodox Theories
Heterodox as an identifier of an economic theory and/or economist that stands in some form of dissent relative to mainstream economics was used within the Institutionalist literature from the 1930s to the 1980s. Then in 1987, Allan Gruchy used heterodox economics to identify Institutional as well as Marxian and Post Keynesian theories as ones that stood in contrast to mainstream theory. By the 1990s, it became obvious that there were a number of theoretical approaches that stood, to some degree, in opposition to mainstream theory. These heterodox approaches included Austrian economics, feminist economics, Institutional-evolutionary economics, Marxian-radical economics, Post Keynesian and Sraffian economics, and social economics; however, it was not possible to use any of the names of the various heterodox approaches to represent them collectively. Thus, terms, such as non-traditional, non-orthodox, non-neoclassical, non-mainstream, were used to collectively represent them, but they did not have the right intellectual feel or a positive ring. Moreover, some thought that political economy (or heterodox political economy) could be used as the collective term, but its history of being another name for Marxian-radical economics (and its current reference to public choice theory) made this untenable. Therefore, to capture the commonality of the various theoretical approaches in a positive light without prejudicially favoring any one approach, a descriptive term that had a pluralist ‘big-tent feel’ combined with being unattached to a particular approach was needed. Hence, ‘heterodox’ became increasingly used throughout the 1990s in contexts where it implicitly and/or explicitly referred to a collective of alternative theories vis-à-vis mainstream theory and to the economists that engaged with those theories.
The final stage in the general acceptance of heterodox economics as the ‘official’ collective term for the various heterodox theories began circa 1999. First there was the publication of Phillip O’Hara’s comprehensive Encyclopedia of Political Economy (1999), which explicitly brought together the various heterodox approaches.
At the same time, in October 1998 Fred Lee established the Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE); and to publicize the conference and other activities of the AHE as well as heterodox activities around the world, he also developed from 1999 to the present an informal ‘newsletter’ that eventually became (in September 2004) the Heterodox Economics Newsletter, now received by over 3200 economists worldwide (seehttp://www.heterodoxnews.com ). These twin developments served to establish heterodox economics as the preferred terminology by which these groups of economists referred to themselves.
Heterodox Economics as a Community of Heterodox Economists
Heterodox economics also denotes a community of heterodox economists, which implies that the members are not segregated along professional and theoretical lines. With regard to the segregation of professional engagement, except for two instances in the mid-1970s, it has not existed among heterodox associations. For example, from their formation in 1965 - 1970, the three principal heterodox associations in the United States, AFEE, ASE, and URPE, opened their conferences to Institutionalist, social economics, radical-Marxian, and Post Keynesian papers and sessions; appointed and/or elected heterodox economists to the editorial boards of their journals and to their governing bodies who also were members of other heterodox associations or engaged with Post Keynesian economics; and had members who held memberships in other heterodox associations, engaged with Post Keynesian economics, and subscribed to more than one heterodox economics journal. Moreover, a number of heterodox associations formed since 1988, such as AHE, EAEPE, ICAPE, SDAE, and SHE, have adopted an explicitly pluralistic approach towards their name, membership, and conference participation—for a list of heterodox associations, dates formed, and primary country or region of activity, see Table 1. Finally, the informal and explicit editorial policies of heterodox journals have, from their formation, accepted papers for publication that engage with the full range of heterodox approaches; and this tendency has strengthen since the mid-1990s as heterodox economics became more accepted. To illustrate, from 1993 to 2003 the eight principal English language generalist heterodox journals--Cambridge Journal of Economics, Capital and Class, Feminist Economics, Journal of Economic Issues, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Review of Political Economy, Review of Radical Political Economics, and Review of Social Economy--cited each other so extensively that no single journal or sub-set of journals was/were isolated; hence they form an interdependent body of literature where all heterodox approaches have direct and indirect connections with each other. Thus, in terms of professional engagement over the last ten years, the heterodox community is a pluralistic integrative whole.