Theoretical Perspectives

Evolutionary political economy provides an alternative to neoclassical economic theory in the following terms: the approach to analysis is based on successive, critical abstraction of relevant tendencies and linkages in actual economic systems - instead of a methodology that sanctifies fictions and diverts attention from the difficult task of analysing real world phenomena.

The analysis is open-ended and interdisciplinary in that it draws upon relevant material in psychology, sociology, anthropology, politics, law and history, as well as economics itself - instead of a definition of economics in terms of a rigid method which is applied indiscriminately to a wide variety of social, political or economic institutions.

The conception of the economy is of a cumulative and evolutionary process unfolding in historical time in which agents are faced with chronic information problems and radical uncertainty about the future - instead of approaches to theorising which focus exclusively on equilibrium.

The concern is to address and encompass the interactive, social process through which tastes are formed and changed, the forces which promote technological transformation, and the interaction of these elements within the economic system as a whole - instead of a theoretical framework that takes individuals and their tastes as given, technology as likewise exogenous, and with production separated from exchange.

It is appropriate to regard the market itself as a social institution, necessarily supported by a network of other social institutions such as the state, and having no unqualified nor automatic priority over them - instead of an orientation which takes the market as an ideal or natural order and as a mere aggregation of individual traders.

It is recognised that the socio-economic system depends upon, and is embedded in, an often fragile natural environment and a complex ecological system - instead of a widespread tendency to ignore ecological and environmental considerations or consequences in the development of theories and policy recommendations.

The enquiry is value-driven and policy-orientated and recognises the centrality of participatory democratic processes to the identification and evaluation of real needs - instead of a utilitarian outlook which separates considerations of means from those of ends, and judgements of fact from those of value, and which ignores social relations, conflicts and inequalities between the agents.

The Association accepts the relevance of writers as diverse as John Commons, Nicholas Kaldor, Michael Kalecki, William Kapp, John Maynard Keynes, Alfred Marshall, Karl Marx, Gunnar Myrdal, Edith Penrose, Francois Perroux, Karl Polanyi, Joan Robinson, Joseph Schumpeter, Herbert Simon, Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen and Max Weber to institutionalist and evolutionary thought. EAEPE's Honorary Presidents are leading scholars who have worked in their tradition. Their patronage to EAEPE is testimony to the associations leading role as a promoter of critical throught in the social sciences.

EAEPE wants to send a strong signal that welcomes members sympathetic to our approaches and who are willing to get involved in the open debate that has always characterised the association. One of the objectives of EAEPE is to provide an open forum for the debate among different schools that is needed in Europe. EAEPE offers a pluralistic forum.