Keith TribeJun 18, 2023
Constructing Economic Science
The Invention of a Discipline 1850-1950
Oxford University Press 2022
During the late nineteenth century concerns about international commercial rivalry were often expressed in terms of national provision for training and education, and the role of universities in such provision. It was in this context that the modern university discipline of economics emerged. The first undergraduate economics program was inaugurated in Cambridge in 1903; but this was merely a starting point.
Constructing Economic Science: The Invention of a Discipline 1850-1950 (Oxford UP, 2022) charts the path through commercial education to the discipline of economics and the creation of an economics curriculum that could then be replicated around the world. Rather than describing this transition epistemologically, as a process of theoretical creation, Keith Tribe shows how the new "science" of economics was primarily an institutional creation of the modern university. He demonstrates how finance, student numbers, curricula, teaching, new media, the demands of employment, and more broadly, the international perception that industrializing economies required a technically-skilled workforce, all played their part in shaping economics as we know it today. This study explains the conditions originally shaping the science of economics, providing in turn a foundation for an understanding of the way in which this new language transformed public policy.
Keith Tribe is an economic historian and independent scholar with a long-standing interest in language and translation. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Tartu and teaches history of economics at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of The Economy of the Word (OUP, 2015).
Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel.