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Stephen A. Marglin

 

Contact information

Address
Department of Economics
Harvard University
Littauer 221
1805 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138
United States of America

Phone +1 (617) 495 3759
Fax +1 (617) 495 7730
E-mail smarglin@harvard.edu


Assistant: Jane Trahan
Department of Economics
Harvard University
Littauer 228
1805 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138
United States of America

Phone +1 (617) 496 0062
Fax +1 (617) 495 7730
E-mail jtrahan@harvard.edu

Stephen A. Marglin holds the Walter S Barker Chair in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He became a tenured professor at Harvard in 1968, one of the youngest in the history of that institution. Marglin has contributed to many aspects of economics over his long career: his published papers and books range over the foundations of cost:benefit analysis, the workings of the labor-surplus economy, the organization of production, the relationship between the growth of income and its distribution, and the process of macroeconomic adjustment. His work has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. (more...)


The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like An Economist Undermines Community

The Dismal Science

 

Harvard University Press
ISBN 978-0-674-02654-4

376 pages

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Economists celebrate the market as a device for regulating human interaction without acknowledging that their enthusiasm depends on a set of half-truths: that individuals are autonomous, self-interested, and rational calculators with unlimited wants and that the only community that matters is the nation-state. However, as Stephen Marglin argues, market relationships erode community. In the past, for example, when a farm family experienced a setback - say the barn burned down - neighbors pitched in. Now a farmer whose barn burns down turns, not to his neighbors, but to his insurance company. Insurance may be a more efficient way to organize resources than a community barn raising, but the deep social and human ties that are constitutive of community are weakened by the shift from reciprocity to market relations.

Marglin dissects the ways in which the foundational assumptions of economics justify a world in which individuals are isolated from one another and social connections are impoverished as people define themselves in terms of how much they can afford to consume. Over the last four centuries, this economic ideology has become the dominant ideology in much of the world. Marglin presents an account of how this happened and an argument for righting the imbalance in our lives that this ideology has fostered.

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