ABSTRACT

This first chapter introduces economics as a social science, highlights the discipline’s common threads and peculiar characteristics vis-à-vis the other social sciences, and encourages reflection on the scientific character of economic analysis. It discusses possible impacts that ideology, analytical perspectives, and the historical/cultural context may have on economists’ analytical frameworks and policy recommendations. Furthermore, economics is presented as a fundamentally interdisciplinary field that has evolved in response to philosophical trends, historical events, and social transformations. The chapter concludes with the introduction of two of the most prominent figures of modern economics, Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, and with two alternative disciplinary paradigms, feminist and ecological economics, that will be further explored in the last chapter of the book.