In the economic debate on power, seemingly opposite positions have been presented. Contractualists have claimed that power relations do not exist in capitalism, and radicals have maintained that they are ubiquitous. In the middle, transaction costs and property rights economists have argued that power relations exist only within the firm. The underlying conception, however, is the same: power is an interpersonal relation caused by imperfections in the decision-making context and is incompatible with Walrasian competition. The difference among these theories involves their viewpoints on the concrete spread of imperfections in reality. The thesis of this paper is that this narrow conception of power is a consequence of neoclassical methodology. Following Marx, I analyze power as a social relation, and I discuss three problematic aspects of the neoclassical conception: its individualistic methodology, the assumption of universal rather than historical categories, and an ontology that conflates production and circulation.

The economic debate on power: A Marxist critique

PALERMO, Giulio
2014

Abstract

In the economic debate on power, seemingly opposite positions have been presented. Contractualists have claimed that power relations do not exist in capitalism, and radicals have maintained that they are ubiquitous. In the middle, transaction costs and property rights economists have argued that power relations exist only within the firm. The underlying conception, however, is the same: power is an interpersonal relation caused by imperfections in the decision-making context and is incompatible with Walrasian competition. The difference among these theories involves their viewpoints on the concrete spread of imperfections in reality. The thesis of this paper is that this narrow conception of power is a consequence of neoclassical methodology. Following Marx, I analyze power as a social relation, and I discuss three problematic aspects of the neoclassical conception: its individualistic methodology, the assumption of universal rather than historical categories, and an ontology that conflates production and circulation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11379/252505
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