[M] Social Economics


Merve Burnazoglu
Utrecht University, Netherlands


Franklin Obeng-Odoom
University of Helsinki, Finland

Wolfram Elsner
University of Bremen, Germany,

Social Economics brings the social back into economics. It investigates how economic life influences and is influenced by social structures and processes in complex socio-economic systems.

Relying on the concept of social embeddedness, it suggests an inseparability of economic motivation, behaviours, and institutions with other motivations and institutions of the social human being. This social embeddedness presents itself in mutual influences between  individuals and social structures and resulting dynamics.

Distinct from the neoclassical “market”-orthodoxy, Social Economics starts from the obvious social fact of direct interdependence and ongoing direct interactions among many and heterogeneous individual agents in a population, and the evolutionary dynamics and structures emerging from this.

It closely works with the concepts of social capital, social institutions and norms, social change, social stratification, and social reproduction.

The consequences of the relationship between economics and social behaviour are examined in its implications for economic theory and policy. Also in terms of ontology, epistemology, and methodology, Social Economics may be viewed as an open, pluralist research program for a new and broad interdisciplinarity in the social sciences and beyond.

Some questions addressed include (but are not limited to):

  • How can we analyse complex social structures and resulting evolutionary dynamics in socio-economic systems? Does “the social” help explain complex systems with which we deal in economics?
  • How does economics engage in analysing the realities, within which social and economic dimensions present themselves in nested ways?
  • In what ways do social institutions, norms and moral values manifest themselves in economic transactions?
  • What is the role and place of reciprocity, social fairness and justice in the economies? What does it imply for economic theory and policy?
  • How do self-interested and pro-social motives combine in individual behaviour?
  • How does economics treat socially embedded individuals and their interactions?
  • How do we properly count for them without falling into methodological individualism? What are proper methodological stances for a fruitful real-world Social Economics?
  • How do the groups, classes and other collectivities act in the economy and deal with its commons?
  • How do relating institutions and structures appear, persist, change or fail?

Contributions are welcome from different perspectives, in terms of the theoretical approaches followed (evolutionary, institutionalist, neo-Schumpeterian, post-Keynesian, ecological, feminist, Austrian, complexity-based etc.) and disciplinary backgrounds involved  psychological, sociological, philosophical, anthropological, but also biological, physical etc.). Looking forward to most relevant sessions, also joint ones with other RAs.