Sciences Po Grenoble (Frankreich)
E-Mail: simon.godard [at] sciencespo-grenoble.fr
Economics and Activism. How do Workers participate in the Elaboration of (critical) economic Knowledge (1920s-1970s)
Following Karl Polanyi’s criticism of the « scientific tale » that is the concept of homo oeconomicus and Pierre Bourdieu’s agenda, claiming that economics has to be studied as « complex social fact » (fait social total), my research aims at intertwining the analysis of economic rationale with the analysis of the social world within which they emerge and develop. In this regard, I draw on George Canguilhem’s idea of « scientific ideology », in order to deconstruct the principle of axiological neutrality, which mainstream economists have long put forward since the 1930s.
Focusing on the communist partisan milieu and on various worker’s organization systems (co-operatives, trade unions and socialist brigades), I am looking at the scientific ideology that is shaped in the encounters of a specific form of workers’ activism with economics. My research puts into perspective the way assumed partial economic knowledge, derived from the political commitment of the actors producing it, does not disqualify this knowledge, but rather constitutes a requirement for the scientific legitimation of mainstream economics and helps historicize its development in the field of the social sciences.
I will be carrying out in Potsdam a research project on communism and economics, between the 1920s and the 1970s. I am particularly interested in the way social configurations influence the production of economic knowledge and how actors, who are socially and economically dominated, can participate in the shaping of economic knowledge and discourses. This research is based on archives of German trade unions and co-operatives and analyses how – and to what extent – a practical knowledge of the production process can be transformed into a more formal, academic, economic knowledge.