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American Journal Of Sociology


In an increasingly knowledge-based global environment, American-style economics may be an especially important form of expertise to understand. Existing studies of the discipline present something of a paradox, however, as some suggest that economic discourse is a logically unified and powerful promarket ideology, while others indicate that in practice it is quite fragmented and constrained. A series of 52 interviews with economists working in various jobs is used to reveal a possible way out of this paradox by highlighting three basic features of economic expertise: cognitive and practical framing via a “core” of relatively simple ideas and techniques, great flexibility in results due to various available “subframes,” and dependence of the selection of subframes on local institutional contexts. These underlying features potentially explain how the unified academic discourse of economics produces a variety of outcomes and maybe even plays a range of quite different social roles in different situations.


This work is freely available courtesy of University of Chicago Press.

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