chapter  8
21 Pages

Economic Geography ‘Unbound’

The discipline of economics has proven to be a very robust social science. It has unusual prestige among social sciences – after all it is the only one with a Nobel Prize (technically the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel). Economists have had a key role in explaining the way the social world works, and in offering advice to those seeking to manage it. Economic knowledge is also embedded in popular understandings of social life, and to a degree, many people think like economists. For example, it is fairly common to use the language of economics in discussing personal choices, describing them in terms of ‘costs and benefits’ or ‘tradeoffs.’ Increasingly, such expressions are applied not only to obviously economic choices, such as whether to buy this or that product, but also to choices more generally, such as how to spend one’s time, or whether to continue a relationship with someone. Some economists have sought to capitalize on this expansionary trend by claiming that economics can explain everything (or, more modestly, almost everything). Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (with Stephen J. Dubner), published in 2005, was a best

Everything by Robert H. Frank, The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything by Tim Harford and even Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen!