Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Black Sheep of the Social Sciences

"teach political economy on more modern and more socialist lines than those on which it had been taught hitherto, and to serve at the same time as a school of higher commercial education"
-Sidney Webb on the purpose of The LSE

This is a funny place. The LSE was created in a different time. A time when Smelly Ol' London really was Smelly Ol' London. When poverty was a civic emergency that mobilized people like Sidney Webb to fight against the newest breed of robber barons.

Today I had my School Orientation presentation and the difference between then and now was striking. On one hand we had the head of the student union talking about the glory days of The LSE, showing pictures from massive demonstrations down Fleet Street. She rhymed off all the achievements of the Union and its latest fight against unchecked tuition fees and encouraged us all to show up at the General Meeting to give the Director hell. She got a polite round of applause. The Dean of Graduate Studies, on the otherhand, told us a tale of a young economist he got a job for after Lehman Brothers collapsed. This produced an audible, impressed, gasp from the assembled would-be bankers.

Paul Krugman talks about this alot, but the difference in reactions from the students really illustrated to me how far Economics has fallen away from the other social sciences. I don't want to get up on a high horse, but very few people get into Comparative Politics for the bling, but for economics students it really is all about the money, and the way to that money is by acknowledging The Truth of free markets and evil government. There has to be some serious grave spinning going on in Westminster Abbey (aside: what happens when the spinner in question was cremated?).

No comments:

Post a Comment