FAPE|For a New Economics Section in the National Council of Universities (CNU),

The French Association of Political Economy has launched a campaign to change the recruitment and promotion procedures in France.

In order to counter the domination of mainstream economics, we propose to create a new “section” in the French National Council of Universities.

The attached text presents our motivation and outlines the proposed reform. We would be happy if you could consider signing it.

André Orléan, President of AFEP
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For a New Economics Section in the National Council of
Universities (CNU),
entitled “Economy and Society”

We, the economists of FAPE, as well as sociologists, historians, experts
in law, and specialists in the management and political sciences, call for
the creation of a new Research and Teaching Section in Economics, in
France.

Where is our economic system leading us? How long can our societies
remain submitted to its violent jolts? How did we reach this point? And
how shall we react?

The signatories of this text believe that the present situation not only
reveals a crisis in the economy, but equally a profound intellectual crisis
of economic thought. The crisis has many causes and the solutions rely,
among others, on theoretical and practical creativity. Here, however, we
would specifically like to point to an institutional cause which is linked to
the inventiveness of economics as a science, but nevertheless, is a
problem to which a simple and rapid political response can be offered.
This solution would immediately breathe new life into reflection on the
economic and social affairs of our time. The products of science are not
only a matter of individual thought, they are always inscribed within an
institutional framework. In economics, this scientific framework has failed
and it must therefore be changed. This is precisely what the French
Association of Political Economy has been engaged in for more than two
years. The FAPE pleads for pluralism of ideas, of methods, and objects,
within economic science, as well as for the repositioning of the discipline
within the general framework of the social sciences.

The findings of FAPE – a group that gathers together around 500
members – are simple: economic thought has undergone a progressive
decay, as it has steadily moved away from its position of a social science
to, instead, model itself artificially on the practices, organizational
modalities, and structures, as well as on the criteria of the sciences
which claim to be founded on the existence of natural regularities.
This profound drift has gone too far to hope that the simple good will of
some – which is certainly not lacking – would suffice to reverse the
tendency. Considering the reality of the intellectual landscape for
economists today, in France but also on an international level, one
cannot deny the substantial contraction of the methods and concepts
tolerated by the discipline’s community as “truly scientific”. Today, most
of the executives in the academic community, researchers and
professors who supervise PhDs, preside over examination committees,
run masters as well as research centres, belong to the mainstream. The
latter is based upon, and constituted of, a mix of mathematical methods
(frequently combined with econometric evaluation), as well as upon the
abstract conceptualization of a utility-maximizing homo economicus
whose a priori vocation is to explain all forms of social interaction.
If no institutional reform is implemented in the next ten years, the
economic profession in France will no longer produce a single economist
inspired by the long and solid tradition of political economy (whether
classical, Marxist, Keynesian, Hayekian, Institutionalist, Walrasian etc.).
Already today, this alternative voice is struggling to make itself heard in
public debates, otherwise saturated with references to the mainstream.
Meanwhile, the current impoverishment of high school programmes
dedicated to the study of the economic and social sciences appears to
be a veritable repetition of the operational aridity of “higher thought” on
our economies and which generally confesses itself to be bewildered by
recent turns of events.

The need for debating the concrete functioning of our economies and the
possibilities of reform has never been more obvious than today. For
democracy to breathe again, economic and social debate must be
nourished at its core by a plurality of analyses between which it is
advisable for citizens and their elected representatives to arbitrate. For
economic thought to walk on its own two feet again, the formal approach,
whatever its pertinence, and the alternative approaches that refer to a
social construction of facts, including economic facts, must be enabled to
co-exist. The same holds true for the training of economists which needs
to be conscious of social and economic realities if it is to contribute to
public debate.

This statement, supported at length over the last two years by numerous
reports and articles available online (see AFEP’s website), leads us to
request the creation of a new research and teaching section entitled
“Economy and Society”, within the institution that organizes higher
education and research in France, the National Council of Universities
(Conseil National des Universités, CNU).

The creation of a 78th CNU section, which can only arise from a
ministerial decision, would hardly cause a great commotion, and it would
certainly not, in itself, be a revolution. However it would immediately
restore oxygen to a body of economic thought in cruel need of it. It would
furnish the institutional conditions for the presence of a true pluralism in
the life of ideas, of economic and social thought, and, ultimately, in the
practice of economics in society.

All together, economists, philosophers, sociologists, historians, experts in
law, and specialists in the management sciences as well as in the
political sciences, signatories of the present appeal, universally call for
the creation of this new section. Those amongst us who define
themselves first as economists would also immediately request our
incorporation within its disciplinary bounds where, henceforward, we
would contribute to a deep and radical renewal of economic pedagogy
and economic thought. We all believe that this is a decisive issue for the
social sciences and for society far more generally.

First Signatures

FAPE Member’s

André ORLÉAN (président de l’AFEP, Directeur de recherches CNRS), Alain CAILLÉ (Professeur de sociologie, université Paris-Ouest), Bernard CHAVANCE (Professeur d’économie, université Paris-Diderot), Olivier FAVEREAU (Professeur d’économie, université Paris-Ouest), Florence JANY-CATRICE (Professeure d’économie, université Lille 1), Agnès LABROUSSE (Maîtresse de conférences en économie, Université de Picardie – Jules Verne), Thomas LAMARCHE (Maître de conférences, université Paris-Diderot), Edwin LE HERON (Maître de conférences en économie, Sciences Po Bordeaux), Dany LANG (Maître de conférences en économie, université Paris 13), Philippe LÉGÉ (Maître de conférences en économie, Université de Picardie – Jules Verne), Claire PIGNOL (Maîtresse de conférences en économie, Université Paris1), Nicolas POSTEL (Maître de Conférences en économie, Université Lille 1), Gilles RAVEAUD (Maître de conférences en économie, université Paris 8 Saint-Denis), Michel ROCCA (Maître de conférences en économie, université Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble), Richard SOBEL (Maître de conférences en économie, université Lille 1), Bruno TINEL (Maître de Conférences en économie, université Paris 1), Bernard VALLAGEAS (Maître de Conférences en économie, université Paris Sud).

French professors and researchers :

Michel AGLIETTA (Professeur d’économie, université Paris-Ouest), Olivier BEAUD (Professeur de droit public, université Panthéon-Assas), Stéphane BEAUD (Professeur de sociologie, Ecole Normale Supérieure), Luc BOLTANSKI (Sociologue, directeur d’études à l’EHESS), Robert BOYER (Economiste, directeur de recherches au CNRS, directeur d’études à l’EHESS), Barbara CASSIN (Philosophe, directrice de recherches au CNRS, présidente de la section 35 « Philosophie » du CNRS), Pascal COMBEMALE (Professeur de sciences économiques et sociales au Lycée Henri-IV), Alain DESROSIERES (Statisticien, Centre Koyré d’histoire des sciences), Claude DIDRY (Sociologue, directeur de recherches au CNRS), Jean-Pierre DUPUY (Philosophe, université Stanford) , Julien FRETEL (Professeur de science politique, université d’Amiens, président de l’AECSP, Association des enseignants et chercheurs de science politique), Marjorie GALY (Professeure de science économiques et sociales, Lycée Fustel de Coulanges, Strasbourg, présidente de l’APSES, Association des Professeurs de Sciences économiques et sociales), Michel LALLEMENT (Professeur de Sociologie, CNAM), Romain LAUFER (Professeur de marketing, HEC), Jean-Louis LAVILLE ((Professeur de Sociologie, CNAM), Christian LAZZERI (Professeur de philosophie, université Paris-Ouest), Danilo MARTUCCELLI (Professeur de sociologie, Université Paris-Descartes), Philippe MINARD (Professeur d’histoire moderne, université Paris-8, directeur d’études à l’EHESS), Roland PEREZ (Professeur émérite en gestion, université de Montpellier-1), Philippe ROLLET (Professeur d’économie, président de l’université Lille-1), Robert SALAIS (Directeur de recherches au CNRS), Philippe STEINER (Professeur de sociologie, université Paris-Sorbonne), Alain SUPIOT (Professeur de droit, directeur de l’Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Nantes, membre de l’Institut Universitaire de France), Laurent THEVENOT (Sociologue, directeur d’études à l’EHESS, administrateur de l’INSEE).

– Others Professors and Researchers (from 10 countries : Germany, Australia, Belgium, Brasil, Canada, Denmark, USA, Irland, Italy, United-Kingdom) :

Ricardo ARAUAJO, université de Brazilia (Brasil) ; Christian ARNSPERGER, université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) ; Isabelle CASSIERS, université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) ; Paul DAVIDSON, université du Tennessee (USA) ; Amitava Krishna DUTT, université de Notre Dame (USA) ; Gerald EPSTEIN, université du Massachusetts (USA) ; Ben FINE, université de Londres (UK) ; Peter FLASCHEL, université de Bielefeld (Germany) ; Nancy FOLBRE, université du Massachusetts (USA), Duncan FOLEY, New School for Social Research (USA) ; Giuseppe FONTANA, université de Leeds (UK) ; Nancy FRASER, New school for Social Research, New York (USA) ; Edward FULLBROOK, éditeur de la Real-World Economics Review (UK) ; James GALBRAITH, université du Texas (USA) ; Geoffrey HODGSON, université d’Hertfordshire (UK) ; Jesper JESPERSEN, université de Roskilde (Denmark) ; John KING, université de La Trobe (Australia) ; Marc LAVOIE, université d’Ottawa (Canada) ; Tony LAWSON, université de Cambridge (UK) ; Fred LEE, université du Missouri (USA) ; Stephen MARGLIN, université Harvard (USA) ; Terrence Mc DOUNOUGH, université de Galway (Irland) ; Richard R. NELSON, université Columbia (USA) ; José Antonio OCAMPO, université Columbia (USA) ; Luigi PASINETTI, université catholique de Milan (Italy) ; Michael PIORE, MIT (USA) ; Theodore M. PORTER, université de Californie (USA) ; Malcolm SAWYER, université de Leeds (UK) ; Bertram SCHEFOLD, université Goethe (Germany) ; Juliet SCHOR, Boston College (USA) ; Tom STANLEY, Hendrix College (USA) ; Diane TREMBLAY, université du Québec (Canada) ; Till Van TREECK, IMK (Germany).

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