Contemporary Pluralistic Economics: an introduction to the ICAPE Plenary

Geoffrey E. Schneider

The participants in the 2019 ICAPE plenary session were all experts in a particular school of heterodox economics, who also had wide experiences with heterodox economics in general. This made them particularly well suited to address the theme of the plenary. Each participant was asked to lay out the core tenets of their perspective, its unique methodology, and how it relates to the other heterodox perspectives. The perspectives of the founding ICAPE organizations were all represented, with Steve Pressman on Social Economics, Jennifer Cohen on Feminist Economics, Matias Vernengo on Post Keynesian Economics, Geoff Schneider in Institutional Economics and Paddy Quick on Radical Political Economics. The views on Radical Political Economics are also developed in a subsequent paper in this volume, “The Principles of Radical Political Economics,” by Al Campbell, Ann Davis, David Fields, Paddy Quick, Jared Ragusett and Geoffrey Schneider.

In a recent book, Is There a Future for Heterodox Economics, Geoff Hodgson (2019) argues that heterodox economics is too fractured, too pluralistic and too dominated be leftist political ideology to be effective. On the contrary, this plenary section, indicates that (a) there is a high degree of agreement within each heterodox school on a majority of issues, (b) much unites the major heterodox schools of thought, and (c) the methodological approaches of heterodox economics match the progressive political views of heterodox economists and are therefore natural bedfellows.

Furthermore, pluralism is crucial and inevitable in a social science as complex as economics. Each heterodox perspective brings a unique focus and makes a valuable, original contribution to the discipline. In addition, most of the insights of the various schools are complementary, enriching our understanding of key aspects of economic analysis. There are, of course, some areas of conflict and contradiction, but as readers will see, these areas are not dominant, nor do they appear to be intractable. The strong implication is that heterodox economics does in fact form a fairly cohesive alternative to mainstream economics. Rather than lacking a future, these articles leave me hopeful for the heterodox economics project, and for pluralism within heterodox economics.


Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (2019). Is There a Future for Heterodox Economics? Institutions, Ideology and a Scientific Community. Cheltenham UK and Northampton MA: Edward Elgar.