Economic schools of thought, what are they?

Economics can be explained in different ways, and these explanations are based in some assumptions and ideas on how things work.

The different schools of thought are not static, and they have been constantly evolving and changing since the origin of economics. Some build over previous ones, some have become outdated, some others have arisen. But it doesn’t mean that the newest one is the best one. In fact, there is no better or worse school of economics. Some schools emphasize institutions, some on monetary or fiscal policy, some on growth, inequality, and so on. Also, some schools clearly have an ideological component. Ultimately, the affinity with an economic school depends fundamentally on the ideas of the author.

Have you ever wondered why there are such different ways of understanding things? One important aspect to have in mind is that the different schools of thought have appeared in very different historical contexts. Can you imagine that the “father of modern economics” was developing his theories on the late 1700’s? The world has changed a lot and still, the assumptions that Adam Smith used to develop his theories are the basis of what we call “the classics”.

The course “Economic schools of thought: labour perspectives” wants to present the different schools of thought from a logical–historical approach. This means that each school is presented in the historical context of its emergence and analysed according to a logical rather than ideological criteria.

But there are lots of aspects to compare between the different schools of economics. The course will use labour to introduce and compare the different schools. Why?

Because we think it is something that touches directly most of the citizens. The labour market in general, but also considering that the income from employment is the major source of individual income, it becomes essential to every single person.

Labour markets have been changing over the past decades in many ways: the rise in inclusion of women in the work-force has increased in unprecedented numbers, new technology in continuously changing, labour conditions seem to be moving towards more insecurity, precarity and poor conditions of employment… In order to understand today´s labour dynamics our approach takes a historical perspective that helps us understand the evolution of the concept of labour and its value, starting precisely with the first men that put the discussion on the table.

Have a look on the course Economic schools of thought: labour perspectives, read and develop the activities proposed. Refresh your knowledge on such an important topic!

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