Psychoanalytic economics

23/01/2013 § 2 Comments

Regular readers of this blog — both of them — will recognise that my favourite place to play is in the intersection between psychoanalysis and economics. Admitting that this intersection may well be imaginary, I am very pleased to advertise an upcoming conference organised by the irrepressible Andrew Dickson.

The conference is entitled Lacan and the Discourse of Capitalism: Perhaps it is rotten after all? A conference announcement and description is here. This being the modern age and all, the conference will also be presented on-line, so you don’t even have to be in Wellington.

It is very important to be working on this discussion. Economics and psychoanalysis are both about human behaviour, but they understand it completely differently. So differently, in fact, that I do wonder whether they are compatible. And yet, both claim to speak some truth about the human condition.

Researchers in both disciplines will sometimes dismiss the other, but that’s too easy. Economists will complain that psychoanalysis over-complicates the internal conversations that people have, and ignores the simplicity of revealed preferences and utility functions. Psychoanalysis — especially when married with Marxism — condemns economists as the priests of a secular religion, apologising for existing power structures rather than liberating individuals.

I hope that this conference is a chance for investigators of humanity — anthropologists? anthro-apologists? — to move beyond those disciplinary canards*. Pretty please?

I’m presenting a paper — fingers crossed it will be done in time. I hope to see you there, either really or virtually.

* My mental image is a duck in bondage gear.

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§ 2 Responses to Psychoanalytic economics

  • Matt Nolan says:

    This is spectacularly awesome – I will be tuning in on both days. Will the papers be available on the Massey site?

  • Andrew says:

    Hi Matt… ‘spectacularly awesome’, perhaps there exists no better type of awesome? 🙂

    I’ll certainly aim to make all papers available via the massey website – though I can always email them. I’ll have a complete programme out in a few days, some fascinating abstracts.

    Bill – I know you’ll get the paper written on time, that is how you roll.


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