The Emergence of Heterodox Economics, 1990 – 2006


Frederic S. Lee

[Derived from Chapter 10 in A History of Heterodox Economics:  Challenging the mainstream in the twentieth century, Routledge, 2009]

A History of Heterodox Economics



Heterodox economic theory consists of a theoretical critique of neoclassical economic theory as well as a theoretical alternative to it.  Moreover, it is a theory that is composed of a concatenated array of arguments drawn from different heterodox approaches.  For this outcome to occur, engagement between the different approaches had to take place.  Hence a heterodox ‘social movement’—that is the bringing together of different heterodox economists to exchange ideas and work together—was needed to produce the community of heterodox economists that in turn is working on developing a heterodox economic theory.  The history of the ‘movement’ or more accurately the emergence of the heterodox economics community from 1990 to 2006, primarily in theUnited Statesand theUnited Kingdom, is the focus of this paper.  The first part of the story concerns the adoption of heterodox economics as the ‘identifier’ or name of a group of heterodox theories.  With the name in place, the second strand of the story deals with of the emergence of the community of heterodox economists by focusing on professional integration across heterodox associations and journals in the second section, and on theoretical integration across heterodox approaches in the following section.  The paper concludes with an overview of heterodox economics in 2006 and a brief discussion on the future of heterodox economics in a contested landscape.


Emergence of Heterodox Economics as the Identifier of a Group of Heterodox Theories

Heterodox as an identifier of an economic theory and/or economist that stood in some form of dissent relative to neoclassical economics was used within the Institutionalist literature in the 1930s and 1940s.  In particular, Institutionalists used it to identify their own dissent from the orthodox mainstream, but left the ‘heterodox’ ambiguous as to whether it meant dissent within the orthodox but contributing to the development of a better mainstream theory or dissent qua complete rejection of the orthodox and the development of an blasphemous alternative economic theory.  This situation remained the state-of-affairs to the late 1960s when Joseph Dorfman used the phrase ‘heterodox economic thinking’ to characterize the contributions of economists such as John A. Hobson, Thorstein Veblen, John R. Commons, and others.  In this case, heterodox thinking meant dissenting in some way from orthodox, neoclassical economic thinking, but not necessarily rejecting neoclassical theory.  Dorfman’s position was very similar to Allan Gruchy (1969) characterizing the neo-Institutionalist contributions of Clarence Ayres, J. K. Galbraith, Gunnar Myrdal, and others as dissenting from neoclassical theory, but at the same time presenting a constructive challenge to the orthodoxy.  Then in 1972 Gruchy went further and imprecisely used heterodox economics as identifying an economic theory, in this case neo-Institutional theory, that stood in blasphemous contrast to mainstream theory; and finally in 1987 he explicitly used heterodox to identify Institutional as well as Marxian and Post Keynesian theories in this way.  However, Gruchy and the Institutionalists were mostly alone in this usage of heterodox economics for the period 1970 to 1990, although Post Keynesians (including Sraffians and Kaleckians), Marxists and many radical economists, and social economists considered their theoretical approaches to be in blasphemous opposition to mainstream theory.

By the 1990s, it became obvious to many ‘heterodox’ that there were a number of theoretical approaches that stood in some degree in opposition to neoclassical theory.  The approaches identified included Austrian economics, feminist economics, Institutional-evolutionary economics, Marxian-radical economics, Post Keynesian and Sraffian economics, social economics, and ecological economics; however, it was not possible to use any of the names of the various heterodox approaches to represent them collectively.  Thus, terms, such as non-traditional, non-neoclassical, non-mainstream, were used to collectively represent them, but they did not have the right intellectual feel or a positive ring.  Moreover, some thought that political economy (or heterodox political economy) could be used as the collective term, but its history of being another name for Marxian-radical economics made this untenable.[1]  Therefore, to capture the blasphemous commonality of the various theoretical approaches in a positive light without prejudicially favoring any one approach, a descriptive term that had a pluralist ‘big-tent feel’ combined with being unattached to a particular approach was needed.  Moreover, ‘heterodox’ itself became increasingly used in contexts where it implicitly and/or explicitly referred to a collective of alternative theories vis-à-vis neoclassical theory and to the economists that engaged with those theories.  So in spite of its Institutionalist connection, heterodox economics fitted the bill and hence increasingly became the term of choice among Post Keynesians, Institutionalists, and similarly inclined economists.[2]

For example, heterodox economics, heterodox economists, and even just heterodox were used in 1992 to cover the diversity of non-neoclassical thought that characterized the economics department at the University of Tennessee as well as in correspondence on AFEEMAIL (starting in March 1994), on PEN-L (starting in January 1994), and on PKT (starting in January 1999).[3]  More significantly was Eric Nilsson’s establishment in 1995 of the short-lived Review of Heterodox Economics for the purpose of increasing the interchange of ideas between economists working within different heterodox approaches to economics which he identified as radical, Marxist, feminist, Post Keynesian, Institutionalist, Sraffian (neo-Ricardian), and others.  The intent of the Review was to publish abstracts of working papers and dissertation projects that sought to make a contribution to heterodox economics.  However, because of the high cost of processing the abstracts, the first issue in Summer 1995 listed only twelve working papers but did contain the contents of thirty-eight journals of interest to heterodox economists; while the second and last issue appeared in Winter 1996 and contained Anne Mayhew’s critique of the American Economics Review, Journal of Economic Literature, and Journal of Economic Perspectives, the list of contents of forty-two journals, and notices of five books of interest to heterodox economists.[4]  In addition, heterodox economics and heterodox economists began appearing with increasing frequency in articles and in titles and/or forwards of books, that dealt with various heterodox theories including those mentioned above as well as Austrian, Georgist, and social economics.[5]  Finally, it started to appear as a descriptor of conference topics:  “The Review of Political Economy will sponsor a conference in a broad range of topics in heterodox economics, inTrier, German, from 28 to 31 July 1997”.

The final stage in the general acceptance of heterodox economics as the ‘official’ collective term for the various oppositional theories began circa 1999.  First there was the publication of Phillip O’Hara’s magnificent and comprehensiveEncyclopedia of Political Economy, which explicitly brought together the various heterodox approaches:

…recently there has been some degree of convergence among the schools.  This current work seeks to flesh out these commonalities, and thereby contribute towards some degree of unification of the traditions.  We seek to cross bridges, showing interconnections where possible.

While O’Hara preferred the term ‘political economy’ to collectively represent the various heterodox approaches, various entries in the Encyclopedia–such as exchange rates, exploitation, interest rate-profit rate link, journals of political economy, monetary theory of production, money, credit and finance:  major contemporary themes, political economy:  school, profit in Sraffian political economy, and supply and demand:  aggregate–included the terms heterodox economics, heterodox analysis, heterodox approaches, heterodox political economists, heterodox economists, heterodox journals, and heterodoxy.  At the same time, in October 1998 Fred Lee ‘formed on paper’ the Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE) for the purpose of putting on a one-day fringe conference at the Royal Economic Society annual conference at the University of Nottingham in 1999—see below.  The conference was opened to all heterodox economists in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[6]  As it was quite successful, the AHE put on a two-day conference in London the following year.  At this point, heterodox economics was clearly defined as a collective term that included Post Keynesian, Marxian-radical, Institutionalist, Feminist, Evolutionary, and Social economics; and by 2003 it included Austrian economics as well.[7]  To publicize the conference and other activities of the AHE as well as heterodox activities around the world, Lee also developed from 1999 to the present an informal ‘newsletter’ that eventually became (in September 2004) the Heterodox Economics Newsletter, which is sent to over 1800 economists worldwide.[8]  Thus the combination of the publication of O’Hara’s Encyclopedia, the formation and activities of the AHE, and the Newsletter, heterodox economics along with heterodox economists and heterodox itself became by 2006 the preferred terminology among heterodox economists.[9]


Emergence of the Community of Heterodox Economists:  Professional Integration

For the community of heterodox economists to exist, it must be grounded in a social system of work that produces economic knowledge that contributes to a heterodox understanding of the economy and the social provisioning process.  Since a social system of work implies that participants are dependent on each other for the production of scientific knowledge, how strong or weak the community is, in part, a function of how dependent heterodox economists are on each other’s research and on the extent to which they work on common research goals, and, in part, is dependent on the degree of integration of their social activities.  Therefore, while a heterodox economist may find one particular heterodox approach, such as Post Keynesian economics, to his/her liking, he/she is also professionally and theoretically engages with economists who are perhaps partial to other heterodox approaches.  Professional engagement includes attendance at heterodox conferences, membership in multiple heterodox associations, subscribing to and/or serving on boards of multiple heterodox journals, and participating in cross-approach collective efforts to support and promote heterodox economics.  Theoretical engagement (which is dealt with in the following section) extends from at least reading and teaching alternative heterodox approaches, to partaking in multi-approach theoretical discussions, and to actively synthesizing different heterodox approaches especially in collaboration with heterodox economists associated with the different approaches.


Professional Integration

            While it is sometimes claimed that the various heterodox approaches practiced strict professional segregation in the 1970s and up to almost the present day, there is in fact little support for it.  There are three kinds of professional segregation to examine:  legal, informal, and voluntary.  First, ‘legal’ segregation occurs when an association accepts or rejects applicants solely on the basis on their theoretical views and expels members if their theoretical views become questionable.  This form of segregation has not been instituted by any heterodox (or mainstream) economics association past or present. [10]  Moreover, since 1988 a number of new heterodox associations have formed, such as the European Association for Evolutionary Economics (1988), International Association for Feminist Economics (1992), Progressive Economics Forum (1998), Association for Heterodox Economics (1999), and Society of Heterodox Economists (2002), and have adopted explicit non-segregationist approaches towards their name, membership, and conference participation.  Secondly, ‘informal’ segregation exists when members of an association define its agenda in a manner that creates significant pressure on members not in favor of it to leave the association and on potential new members who are not in favor of the agenda not to join.  This has occurred in two heterodox associations, URPE and CSE, in the mid-1970s.  In the case of URPE, the attempt at informal segregation quickly failed and by the latter 1970s it openly embraced heterodox pluralism again, but the impact was long lasting in that a number of heterodox economists (particularly Institutionalist economists) left URPE and never returned.  On the other hand, the push for informal segregation within the CSE circa 1975 lead to the exodus of constructive Sraffians and other heterodox economists and this had a lasting impact on the heterodox community in theUnited Kingdom until the 1990s.  However, by the mid-1990s the impact of these two incidents had dissipated and hence informal segregation has not been a disruptive factor within the heterodox community in either country for the past decade.


Professional Integration Across Heterodox Associations and Journals

            A third kind of segregation takes the form of a voluntary lack of professional engagement across heterodox approaches and associations.  However, American graduate programs with heterodox components had faculty with different heterodox approaches and hence their students received a heady heterodox mixture of theory.  As a result, their graduates published in different heterodox journals that represented different theoretical traditions—see Appendix A.11[11]  Moreover, URPE, AFEE, and ASE contributed to the growth of Post Keynesian economics; and in addition, Post Keynesians were members of those heterodox associations—see Appendix A.12.  In short, from the beginning in the 1970s, AFEE, ASE, and URPE open their conferences to Institutionalist, social economics, radical-Marxian, and Post Keynesian papers and sessions; appointed and/or elected heterodox economists to the editorial boards of their journals and to their governing bodies who also were members of other heterodox associations or engaged with Post Keynesian economics; and had members who held memberships in other heterodox associations, engaged with Post Keynesian economics, and subscribed to more than one heterodox economics journal.  Therefore it is not surprising to find evidence of American heterodox economists engaging in professional integration across heterodox associations and journals circa 1990.  That is, for the period 1987-1995, approximately 1538 heterodox economists in the United States belonged to AFEE, ASE, AFIT, URPE, and/or subscribed to the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics—see Table 1.  Each heterodox association and journal had from 8% to 88% of its members and subscribers belonging to a least one other heterodox association or subscribed to the JPKE and from 2.7% to 33.9% belonging to three or more.  Overall 11% of the 1538 heterodox economists belonged to two or more associations or subscribed to the JPKE while 2.3% belonged to three or more—see Table 1.  Moreover, the thirty-five economists that belonged to three or more associations or subscribed to the JPKE included Marxists (Burkett, Sherman), Institutionalists (Dugger, Mayhew), social economists (Elliott, Ulmer), and Post Keynesians (Minsky, Niggle)—see Appendix A.24, Table 1.

Table 1

American Heterodox Economists Membership in AFEE, ASE, AFIT, URPE, and/or Subscription to the JPKE, 1987 – 2006

Association/Journal Total Membership Membership in Two or More Membership in Three or More
1987-95 2000-01 2006 1987-95% 2000-01% 2006% 1987-95% 2000-01% 2006%
AFEE 608 306 239 25 44 50 5.5 12.7 13.8
ASE 416 142 128 25 38 41 7.2 19.0 18.8
JPKE 79 103 90 24 28 22 12.7 16.5 15.6
AFIT 59 101 120 88 78 63 33.9 27.7 20.8
URPE 585 294 312 8 16 17 2.7 6.5 7.1
Overall* 1538 750 707 11 19 19 2.3 5.3 5.1

* Excludes double counting
AFEE – Association for Evolutionary Economics
ASE – Association for Social Economics
JPKE – Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
AFIT – Association for Institutional Thought
URPE –Unionfor Radical Political Economics

[Derived from Appendix A.24, Tables 1 – 3]

From circa 1990 to circa 2000, in spite of an apparent 51% decline in American membership, these four associations and the JPKE experienced significant growth in professional engagement, with an overall 19% of their members belonging to two or more and 5.3% belonging to three or more associations or subscribing to the JPKE—see Table 1.  The forty American heterodox economists that belonged to the latter included those that clearly have the reputations of engaging across heterodox associations and heterodox journals—see Appendix A.24, Table 2.  So by 2000 a community of heterodox economists that were professionally engaged had clearly emerged in the United States in the sense that a significant minority, if not majority, of the members of each association and the JPKE were engaged with one other and more than 5% and up to 28% were engaged with two or more associations.  And in 2006, the overall degree of professional engagement remained about the same, even though American membership in the associations and subscriptions to the JPKE declined by 6%.  More significantly, the percentage of the professional engagement of the membership of AFEE, ASE, and URPE increased.  Consequently, an important characteristic of these associations is that a significant minority of their members is professionally engaged and becoming increasingly more so—see Table 1.

The above indicates that, even though individual heterodox associations and the JPKE continue to exist, heterodox economists in the United   Statescoalesce into a professional community by 2000 and remained so.  If we go beyond AFEE, ASE, AFIT, URPE, and the JPKE to include the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), the total number of American heterodox economists for 2000-01 and 2006 increases, although the overall percentage of membership in two or more and three or more associations and the JPKE did not.  However, for individual associations and the JPKE the percentages do increase for 2000-01 and 2006—see Table 2.  Hence, the core of American heterodox economists that were professionally engaged increased their professional engagement, that is, the network that emerged between the professionally engaged economists became denser.  This fact becomes even clearer when the number of heterodox associations are increased to include the Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE), Progressive Economics Forum (PEF), Outline on Political Economy (OPE), and Heterodox Economics Newsletter (HEN).  In this case, for 2006 the number of heterodox economists in the United States increases to 1020, with 28.7% having membership in two or more associations, JPKE, OPE, and HEN and 9.6% in three or more—see Table 3.  The point is that, as measured, nearly 30% of heterodox economists in the United States and professionally engaged with nearly 10% being significantly engaged.  And these 10% or 96 heterodox economists represent those whose publications, intellectual arguments, and conference engagement have created a heterodox economics community and given it its personality and persona—see Appendix A.24, Table 6.[12]

Table 2

American Heterodox Economists Membership in AFEE, ASE, AFIT, URPE, IAFFE, and/or Subscription to the JPKE, 2000- 2006

Association/Journal Total Membership Membership in Two or More Membership in Three or More
2000-01 2006 2000-01% 2006% 2000-01% 2006%
AFEE 306 239 46 50 15.7 18.4
ASE 142 128 42 43 22.5 22.7
JPKE 103 89 31 22 19.4 15.7
AFIT 101 120 80 64 30.7 23.3
URPE 294 312 26 26 8.5 8.7
IAFFE 294 288 23 18 6.8 4.9
Overall* 975 944 20 18 5.3 5.1

*Excludes double counting
IAFFE – International Association for Feminist Economics

[Derived from Appendix A.24, Tables 4 – 5]

Table 10.3

American Heterodox Economists Membership in AFEE, ASE, AFIT, URPE, IAFFE, AHE, PEF, and/or OPE, Subscription to the JPKE, and/or Receive HEN 2006


Association/Journal Total Membership Membership in Two or More% Membership in Three or More%
AFEE 239 55.6 28.0
ASE 128 52.3 29.7
JPKE 90 34.8 18.9
AFIT 120 69.2 33.3
URPE 312 42.9 18.6
IAFFE 288 23.3 9.4
AHE 20 85.0 50.0
HEN 223 78.0 32.8
PEF 12 33.3 25.0
OPE 26 61.5 34.6
Overall* 1020 28.7 9.6


*Excludes double counting
AHE – Association for Heterodox Economics
HEN – Heterodox Economics Newsletter
PEF – Progressive Economic Forum
OPE – Outline on Political Economy List

[Derived from Appendix A.24, Table 6]


Professional Integration through the Formation of Heterodox Associations:  A Case Study of the Association for Heterodox Economics Based on Participant-Observation

            In the mid-1990s, the CSE, PKSG, and the Great Malvern conference were quite active.  However by 1998 the CSE no longer had an annual conference, the Great Malvern conferences had ceased, and the PKSG activities and attendance at its seminars had decline.  Moreover, the Royal Economics Society (RES) accepted very few heterodox papers for its annual conference and generally created an environment that made many heterodox economists feel less than welcome.  Thus, there existed no venue in theU.K.where heterodox economists could come together in a welcoming environment to give papers, debate, and socialize.  This state of affairs changed rather quickly.  At the 1998 RES Conference, I over heard Paul Dunne mention something about a fringe conference on peace and the economics of arms reductions he would like to put on at the 1999 RES Conference that was to be held at Nottingham University.  This got me thinking about putting on a heterodox fringe conference.  My purpose for the fringe conference was to bring together as many of the British heterodox economists as possible to hear papers that interested them and to socialize and network.  So in October 1998 I contacted the Nottingham University Conference Centre about hiring a room for a day-conference during the period of the RES Conference.  When asked who I was representing, I came up with the Association for Heterodox Economics.  Once the room and date (March 30, 1999) were agreed upon, I polled a number of colleagues to see if they thought the conference was a good idea and would support it.  The feedback was very positive; so I put together a flyer calling for papers and sent it out to virtually all the heterodox economists I knew of in the U.K. (and elsewhere as well).  The response to the flyer was better than I expected, which meant that the conference expanded from one to two rooms.  To cover the expenses, a conference fee of £5.00 was charged and I was able to solicit support and contributions from the Open University, CSE, and EAEPE.

The conference was a success.  There were eight sessions in which eighteen papers were given on such heterodox topics as financial fragility, whither Post Keynesianism, critical realism and econometrics, the regulation school, dialectics and method, and the non-neutrality of money.  There was also a plenary session on the future of heterodox economics with presentations by Chick, Alan Freeman, and Luigi Pasinetti.  Forty-four economists attended and their affiliations spanned theU.K.heterodox communities.  At the conclusion of the conference, all the participants said that they would like to have another fringe conference at the RES 2000 Conference atSt.   AndrewsUniversity, either as part of or outside of it.  However, the RES rejected my proposal that the fringe conference be part its annual conference; andSt.Andrews refused to provide any rooms for the conference.  Refusing to admit defeat and supported by many to hold a second fringe conference, I looked for an alternative conference site.  Andrew Trigg came to my rescue and offered the Open University Conference Centre inLondonas the site for the conference.


Establishing the AHE:  the 2000 and 2001 London Conferences

            With the site for the second annual AHE fringe conference secured, Freeman, Trigg, and I began to organize it.  Freeman came up with the conference title of The Other Economics Conference 2000 to signify that there was more to economics than what was to be found at the RES 2000 Conference.  Next, when putting together the call for papers, we felt that we needed to be more specific about what we included under heterodox economics.  Drawing upon our collective perspectives, we came up with Post Keynesian economics, Marxian economics, labor process theory, Institutionalist economics, feminist economics, evolutionary economics, history of economic thought, business history, social economics, input-output analysis, economic policy, interdisciplinary economics, Sraffian economics, and economic philosophy.[13]  Thus, a call for papers via e-mail and post was sent to individuals in the U.K., Ireland, and overseas.  The call for papers resulted in over eighty submissions, about half being international.  When selecting papers and organizing them into sessions, there was an initial tendency of grouping papers together representing a specific theoretical perspective, that is for example, all Post Keynesian papers were grouped together separate from Marxist papers.  However, Freeman objected to this intellectual segregation, especially since the purpose of the AHE was to bring heterodox economists together, not to divide them and put them into separate sessions.  Hence all the conference sessions were identified by themes, such as ‘heterodox political economy:  public finance’.[14]

The conference was organized into three parallel sessions over two days in order to accommodate the sixty-one papers being presented on the many different facets of heterodox economics.  In addition, there were also two plenary sessions at the conference.  At the first session, Paul Omerod gave a lecture on “The Death of Economics Revisited” and at the second Chick and John Grahl debated whether the U.K.should join the European single currency.  Finally, there was a conference dinner at which Bernard Corry gave the after dinner speech.  Ninety-three conference participants came from the U.K., Ireland, Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim.  During the conference, a meeting was held to discuss the future of the AHE and it was decided to form a open coordinating committee with Trigg as the coordinator.  It was charged with the mandate to put on an annual AHE conference and to engage in any other activities that would promote heterodox economics in the U.K.and Ireland.[15]  There was also an extensive discussion at the meeting on whether the AHE should continue to hold fringe conferences at the RES conferences.  However, the majority felt that this was being too confrontational and hence it was agreed to hold the AHE conference at a different time and place from the RES annual conference.

The third AHE conference, which was also held in Londonat the Open University Conference Centre, was even more of a success than the previous year, with eight-four papers being presented and three plenary sessions.  One plenary session dealt with the concerns of the French movement for Post-Autistic Economics and the Cambridgestudents’ proposal on the opening up economics, while a second session was on the future of heterodox economics.  At the third plenary, A. W. Coats gave a lecture on the history of heterodox economics, pointing out that ideas quickly switch in status from orthodox to heterodox and vice versa.  Finally, at the conference dinner, John King, the after-dinner speaker, delighted his audience with spicy anecdotes and derisive tales of journal editors from hell.  The success of the conference meant that the AHE was now an established association with a good financial base and a growing body of activists and participants.


Building a Community of Heterodox Economists

The purpose of the AHE and its annual conference was and is to bring all heterodox economists in the U.K. and Ireland together to hear papers that interest them, to socialize and network, and to build a community where pluralism, not division existed.  The themes of the first conferences promoted community with pluralism and the participants included heterodox economists from the CSE, PKSG, EAEPE, and the Cambridge Realist Workshop; the subsequent conferences Dublin (2002), Nottingham (2003), Leeds (2004) and London (2005, 2006) continued in the same vain.  In addition, recognizing that the future of heterodox economics depends critically on the next generation of economists that emerge from academia, Wendy Olsen and Alfredo Saad Filho obtained funding from the ESRC to organize an AHE advanced training workshop in heterodox research methodologies.  The first AHE methodology workshop took place in November 2001 and covered causal explanations, modeling, grounded theory, statistical analysis, and qualitative research.  There were twenty-six Ph.D. students in attendance from the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Canada, and the U.S., many of which continued to participate in the AHE annual conference.  The three subsequent workshops repeated the successes of the first one and hence promoted further professional engagement among Britain’s heterodox economists.  Finally, the AHE promoted professional engagement by representing all U.K.heterodox economists before governmental agencies, such as the Quality Assessment Agency regarding the revision of the subject benchmark statement for economics.  Thus the AHE and its professional-engaging activities made a significant contribution to the building of a community of heterodox economists in the U.K.[16]


Emergence of the Community of Heterodox Economists:  Theoretical Integration

Theoretical segregation involves the isolation of a particular theoretical approach and its adherents from all other approaches and their adherents; that is to say, theoretical segregation occurs when there is no engagement across different theoretical approaches.  Again a popular view to articulate which elicits voluminous e-mails attesting to it but providing no supporting evidence.  However, as will be shown below, it does not exist within heterodox economics currently and nor has it existed in the past among the various heterodox approaches.  That is, in the first half of the 20thCentury the development of Institutional economics did not occur independently of engagement with Marxism and the economics of Keynes; and Marxists were not adverse to drawing on Thorstein Veblen and also engaging with Keynes.  Moreover, Marxism, and particularly Paul Sweezy and the monopoly capital school, drew upon the work of Michael Kalecki and Josef Steindl, who also contributed to the development of Post Keynesian economics.  Finally, the development of Post Keynesian economics from the 1930s onwards engaged with Institutionalism and Marxism directly or indirectly through Gardiner Means, Kalecki, Steindl, and Piero Sraffa.  This had as an outcome an alteration of the heterodox approaches—that is to say the various heterodox approaches were somewhat alter so as to be less distinct from each other and to be more conducive for integration with each other.

This general proclivity for pluralistic theoretical engagement continued unabated from the 1960s through the 1980s with various endeavors by heterodox economists to engage, integrate or synthesis Institutional, Post Keynesian, and Marxist-radical approaches, Institutional and Post Keynesian approaches, Post Keynesian and Marxian-radical approaches, Post Keynesian and Austrian, Austrian and Institutionalists, Feminist and Marxist-radical approaches, Institutional and Marxist-Radical Approaches, Institutional and Social Economics, ecological and Marxian-radical approaches, and social and Marxian economics.  Thus by 1990 many heterodox economists could no longer see distinct theoretical boundaries between the various approaches, an outcome that mirrors the professional integration already taking place.

From 1990 to the present day, heterodox economists continued the past integration efforts of engaging across the various heterodox approaches—see Table 4.  The theoretical engagement between Post Keynesian, Institutional, social, Marxian/radical, and feminist economics is unsurprising since, as delineated in the previous section, many heterodox economists are members of more than one heterodox association.  In addition, we find that there are engagements between ecological and Marxian, social, and Institutional economics as well as between Austrians and Marxian/radical, Post Keynesian, Institutional, and feminist economics.  Moreover, there are creative mixtures of heterodox approaches that are best described by their own names, such as the social structures of accumulation school, the French conventions school, and economic sociology.  Finally to reinforce the theoretical integration obvious in Table 10.4, the informal but de facto editorial policies adopted by their editors resulted in papers being accepted for publication that engaged with the full range of heterodox approaches.  Consequently, from 1993 to 2003 the nine principle English language generalist heterodox journals[17] cited each other so extensively that no single journal or sub-set of journals is isolated—see Appendix A.27. Hence they form a completely interdependent whole where all heterodox approaches have direct and indirect connections with each other.

It is clear that the heterodox community is not segregated along theoretical lines, but rather there is cross-approach engagement to such an extent that the boundaries of the various approaches do not simply overlap, they are, in some cases, not there at all.  The ensuing theoretical messiness of cross-approach engagement is evidence to detractors of the theoretical incoherence of heterodox economics whereas to supporters of progress towards a more theoretically coherent heterodox economics—a glass half-empty of coherence vs. a glass half-full of coherence.[18]

Table 4

Theoretical Work that Engaged Two (or More) Heterodox Approaches

(Representative Sample for the Period, 1990 – 2006)


Post Keynesian
Post Keynesian
Post Keynesian
Post Keynesian
Lavoie (1992) Levin (1995) Dutt (1990) Runde (1993)
Jennings(1994) Danby (2004) Crotty (1993) Prychitko (1993)
Arestis (1996) van Staveren (2006) Lavoie (2006) Mongiovi (1994)


Social Economics 
Peterson & Brown (1994) Garnett (1999) Stanfield (1994) Matthaei (1996)
Waller (2005) Mouhammed (2000) Merrett (1997) Gibson-Graham(1996)
Dugger & Sherman (2000) Niggle (2003)
Barker & Feiner (2004)


Social Economics
Social Economics
Emami (1993) Gowdy (1994) Horwitz (1998) Adaman & Devine (1996)
Nelson (1993) Ropke (2005) Burczak et. al (1998)
Prychitko (2002)


Soderbaum (2000) Martinez-Alier (2003) Horwitz (1995) Kotz, et. al (1994)
Vatn (2005) Burkett (2006) Levy (2002)
Smelser & Swedberg (2005)


Heterodox Economics in 2006

            The absence of professional and theoretical segregation means that the heterodox community is a pluralistic integrative whole.  Some heterodox economists hold distinct theoretical views while maintaining a broad professional engagement, while others hold broad theoretical views but maintain a narrower professional engagement.  In any case, all heterodox economists have much in common that is positive (as opposed to holding only a critique of mainstream economics in common), which means they are all capable of producing scientific knowledge about the economy and the social provisioning process that is of direct and/or indirect interest to each other.  This combination of professional and theoretical engagement has two important implications for heterodox economics.  The first is that the community is distinct from the community of mainstream economists; and the second is that it generates the central value that underpins the community of heterodox economists:  that is the value of pluralism—the right of different theoretical approaches to exist without qualification—and its corollary that engagement with the different approaches is a positive social value.

So what does the community of heterodox economists look like in terms of its members, associations, publication outlets, work sites, conferences, and communications?  First of all it is both a national and world-wide community.  That is, it consists of at least twenty-seven heterodox associations, some of which were formed over thirty years ago while others were formed in the last decade; and those identified are located in the United States, United Kingdom/Ireland, Japan, Brazil, Europe and seven other countries around the world—see Table 5.  In addition, there are many heterodox economists not members of these associations but simply subscribe to heterodox journals, such as the JPKE, subscribe to heterodox newsletters such as HEN, or are members of particular heterodox e-mail lists such as OPE or MEX-V.  Consequently, heterodox economists are found around the world—see Table 6 and Appendix A.25.  Some associations and e-mail lists are specific to particular countries because of language (ADEK, KSESA, MEX-V) or particular focus (PEF), which means that the number of their members that belong to other associations may be low.  However, other associations are not so constrained and hence 28% to 68% of their membership belong to two or more other heterodox organizations and from 15% to 34% belong to three or more—see Appendix A.26.  Furthermore every heterodox organization has at least a few members that belong to four or more such organizations; and these fifty-five heterodox economists are well-known for their professional engagement and leadership, with forty located in the United States, four in the United Kingdom, two each in Canada and Australia, and seven scatted around the world—see Table 6 and Appendix A.26.

Table 10.5

Heterodox Economics Associations, 2006

Name  Date
Country or Region
of Primary Activity 
2006 (if known)
Association d’Economie Politique
1980 Canada 250
Association for Economics and Social Analysis
Late 1970s United States
Association for Evolutionary Economics
1965 United States 360
Association for Heterodox Economics
1999 United Kingdom & Ireland 167
Association for Institutionalist Thought
1979 United States 128
Association for Social Economics
1970 United States 181
Association pour le Developpement
Des Estudes Keynesiennes
2000 France 54
Association Recherche et Regulation 1994 France
Belgian-Dutch Association for
Institutional and Political Economy
1980 The Netherlands & Belgium
Conference of Socialist Economists
1970 United Kingdom
European Association for
Evolutionary Political Economy
1988 Europe
German Association of Political Economy Germany
German Keynes Society Germany 100
International Association for Feminist Economics
1992 World 624
International Confederation of Associations for
Pluralism in Economics
1993 United States/World
JapanAssociation for Evolutionary Economics
1996 Japan
JapanSociety of Political Economy
1959 Japan
The Japanese Society for
Post Keynesian Economics
1980 Japan
Korean Social and Economic Studies Association
1987 Korea 179
Progressive Economics Forum
1998 Canada 183
Society for the Advancement of
Behavioral Economics
1982 United States
Society for the Advancement of
1989 World
Society for the Development of
Austrian Economics
1996 United States
Society of Heterodox Economists
2002 Australia 86
Sociedade Brasileira de Economia Politica
1996 Brazil
Unionfor Radical Political Economics
1968 United States 363
US Society for Ecological Economics
2000 United States


Table 10.6

Heterodox Economists by Country, 2006


Country Number of Heterodox Economists Membership/subscription in four or more   heterodox organizations
United States 1026 40
United Kingdom 233 4
Canada 231 2
Korea 187 1
Mexico 113
Australia 105 2
France 77
Japan 58 1
Italy 44 1
Germany 39
Brazil 35
India 33
TheNetherlands 32 1
Austria 30 1
Turkey 25
New Zealand 24 1
Spain 23
Greece 21
Rest ofEurope 117
Rest of World 106 1
Total 2559 55


[Derived from Appendix A.25 and A.26]


The community also includes some thirty generalist heterodox journals, seventeen specialist journals, twenty-six interdisciplinary journals, and a whole host of popular journals.  Some of the journals are national in orientation while others are international, particularly the Post-Autistic Economics Review with its 9,410 subscribers from over 150 countries.  Moreover, there are approximately fourteen heterodox book series and at least eight international publishers, including Ashgate, Cambridge, Edward Elgar, Michigan, Pluto Press, Routledge, M. E. Sharpe, and Verso, and a large number of national publishers that have a specific interest in publishing heterodox economics books.  In addition, there are a large number of work sites, that is, academic departments in many different countries where the production and teaching of heterodox economics takes place without prejudice.  The number of departments around the world that offer post-graduate qualifications, such as a M.A. or Ph.D., in which heterodox economics is an important component is more than thirty; and it is the graduates of these post-graduate programs that will determine the character and personality of the heterodox community over the next two decades.[19]  Finally, as a rough estimate there are at least thirty-five heterodox conferences a year around the world, including the annual conferences of many of the above heterodox associations, supplemented by AESA’s and ICAPE’s triennial conferences.  The significance of the many conferences is that they promote and maintain social relationships between heterodox economists and hence help glue the community together.  And when not attending conferences, heterodox economists, especially those in relatively isolated situations, rely on association newsletters or more generally the HEN to remain part of the community.

The response of mainstream economists to individual heterodox economists in recent years has not changed from the responses in earlier times.  Such responses, while painful to individuals and threatens their continual membership in the community, do not necessarily affect the structural and relational components that maintain the community of heterodox economists.  However, in the past decade the mainstream has threaten the actual structures of the community by attacking, through assessment exercises, subject benchmarking statements, and ranking departments and journals, the work site and production of doctoral students.  Repulsing the attack requires, in part, that heterodox economics be taught to more students, that more doctoral students be produced, and that heterodox economists become more professionally and theoretically engaged through joining multiple heterodox associations, subscribing to multiple heterodox journals, attending multiple heterodox conferences, and engaging in open pluralistic theoretical dialogue with other heterodox economists.  But what is really necessary to do is for heterodox economists challenge the research assessment exercises, subject benchmark statements, and the mainstream ranking of journals and departments through, perhaps, developing their own methods of research assessments and ranking of journals and departments.  All this will take is the will to act and in 2006 there are many members in the community of heterodox economists who have such capabilities.

[1] This issue still exists today in that some find heterodox economics too uninspiring and would like heterodox political economy, political and social economy, or Institutional-evolutionary political economy instead.

[2] Illustrative of this transition was the use of heterodox political economy, heterodox perspectives, and heterodox economics atHobart andWilliamSmithCollege over the period from the late 1980s to the early 1990s to collectively refer to the various heterodox approaches.  For example, in 1993 Charles Whalen taught a course on political economy that included a survey of heterodox economics which covered Austrian, Marxian, Sraffian, Institutional, Feminist, and Post Keynesian economics (course outline is in the possession of the author).

[3] AFEEMAIL is the discussion list for the Association for Evolutionary Economics and its archive can be found at Heterodox Economics Web:  http://www.orgs.bucknell.edu/afee/HetDisc.htm; PEN-L is the discussion list for the Progressive Economists Network and its archive can be found at http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/pen-l/index.htm; and PKT is the discussion list for Post Keynesian Thought and its archive can be found athttp://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/pkt/index.htm.  For the period 1994 to 1999 there were over 300 messages that included the term ‘heterodox’ and of these approximately 150 had the terms ‘heterodox economics’ and/or ‘heterodox economists’.  It needs to be noted that while the PKT discussion list started in 1993, it is only possible to search it for “heterodox” for the period 1999 to 2004 when it was discontinued.

[4] The two issues of the Review can be found at http://www.heterodoxnews.com/ Heterodox Economics Newsletterissue 41.  Nilsson stopped publishing the Review because it was too costly to produce; however, he did post on the web one outcome of the Review, information on twenty-eight journals of interest to heterodox economists.  This list of heterodox journals was first put on the web in 1994 and last updated in September 1995 but has a long web life being cited and/or referred to as late as 2004.  The most recent version of a list of heterodox economic journals is found athttp://heterodoxnews.com/directory/HeterodoxDirectory4th-2011.pdf.

[5] In 1995 Prychitko established a ‘heterodox’ book series with the State University of New York Press on “Diversity in Contemporary Economics”.  The aim of the series was to publish scholarly manuscripts that explored methodological and/or theoretical alternatives to (not just criticisms of) mainstream neoclassical economics.  And the series was not bound to any one ideology or school of thought, but welcome contributions from Austrians, Feminists, Institutionalists, Post Keynesians, radicals, Sraffians, and others.  Unfortunately, the book series was short-lived with Prychitko’s book as the only publication.

[6] Concretely, this meant Marxist, radical, Post Keynesian, and evolutionary economists.

[7] While many heterodox economists welcome Austrian economists into the heterodox community, many Austrian economists seem to have little interest in being part of it, perhaps because of the former’s questioning perspective about free markets.

[8] The Heterodox Economics Newsletter, which comes out every three weeks, can be found athttp://www.heterodoxnews.com/HEN/home.html.

[9] Evidence for this is their widespread usage on the Capital and Class, Feminist Economists Discussion Group, International Association for Feminist Economics, Online on Political Economy, AFEEMAIL, PEN-L, and PKT discussion lists from 2000 to 2006 (perhaps on the order of 3 to 5 times greater than for the period of 1994 to 1999).

[10] However, some ‘local’ actions have occurred, such as when the localNew   York City chapter of URPE expelled Anwar Shaikh in 1975 because he engaged with Sraffian-Post Keynesians.

[12] To provide a comparison with the mainstream, there are approximately 14,775 members of the American Economic Association located in theUnited   States; or there are about fourteen AEA mainstream economists for every heterodox economist.

[13] This encompassing view of heterodox economics was retained for the 2001 AHE Conference; but for the 2002 and subsequent AHE Conferences it was reduced to a more general statement:  All economists are encouraged to come together and hear a diversity of papers on topics not well represented in mainstream economics.  Papers from a plurality of perspectives and topics are encouraged.

[14] This approach has generally been retained for the subsequent AHE conferences.  The only exception was the two sessions on Austrian economics at the 2001 AHE Conference.  The exception was made in order to get Austrian economists involved in the AHE.  The drawback to the approach is that schools of thought or branches of economics are disguised and this has prompted some heterodox economists who are only familiar with a ghettoized heterodox economics to argue that the AHE appears to be closed when it is not.

[15] Prior to the Conference, few heterodox economists fromIreland participated in heterodox activities in theU.K.  However, given the interest of the two that attended the Conference combined with the AHE’s intention to include all “local” heterodox economists, its mandate was extended to includeIreland as well.

[16] In 1996 – 2000 and in 2002 – 2003 there were approximately 174 and 166 heterodox economists in theU.K.—see Appendix A.22.  In 2006, there were approximately 233 heterodox economists, in spite of the impact of the RAE.  Of the 233, ninety-five belonged to two or more heterodox associations while twenty-three belonged to three or more.  Moreover, the AHE had seventyU.K. members in 2006, of which twenty belonged to other heterodox associations or subscribed to the JPKE—see Appendix A.25.

[17]The journals include Cambridge Journal of Economics, Capital and Class, Feminist Economics, Journal of Economic Issues, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Metroeconomica, Review of Political Economy, Review of Radical Political Economics, and Review of Social Economy.

[18] Consequently, allegations that heterodox economists maintain a ‘strict’ allegiance to a particular approach that is thetruth as well as the phrases ‘rigidity of heterodoxy’ and ‘staleness of work’ lose meaning and substance.

[19] It should be noted that every one of the post-graduate programs take a pluralistic-integrative approach to teaching heterodox economics.