Epistemic Rivalry in the Economics Profession

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


How do epistemic rivals organize to propagate their ideas? We argue that rival groups within intellectual fields develop networks to organize, socialize, and transmit knowledge production that is consistent with the groups aims. When they do so successfully they can: i. propagate ideas across scholarly generations, ii. heighten the fidelity of transmitted ideas; and iii. occupy prominent academic and policy positions. Ambitious epistemic rivals who achieve these three elements can transform core assumptions and theories in their field. Our cases examines economists in the United States from 1960-1985, focusing on two epistemic rival groups. The first is at the University of Chicago, the second at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (the ‘Charles River Group’). We trace citation patterns, acknowledgement networks in publications, career paths, research funding, and ideological positions to assess how epistemic rivals organize, socialize, and transmit ideas. Our findings suggests that the intergenerational transmission of ideas is crucial to the success of the ‘Chicago School’, as is the coherence of their ideational propagation, which propelled the ascendance of neoliberal economic policies in the U.S. and globally.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventMovements and Morality - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 28 May 201928 May 2019


ConferenceMovements and Morality
LocationCopenhagen Business School
Internet address

Cite this