Heterodox Economics Newsletter

Issue 281 June 07, 2021 web pdf Heterodox Economics Directory

When editing the journal-section of the Newsletter, I sometimes ask myself the following question: If I had to pick a set of mainstream journals to be featured in this Newsletter, which ones would I include? Generalizing a little, this question can be reformulated: which mainstream journals should be read by heterodox economists, if any? Some heterodox economists might argue the answer is easy as mainstream journals can be largely neglected due to some overarching criticism such as: lack of realism in assumptions, normative bias, a narrow-minded methodological mind-set, a wrong-headed ontological focus on micro-behavior when it is all about understanding economic systems or an ambiguous relation between prominent theoretical suppositions and the available empirical evidence on key questions (e.g. the impact of a minimum wage or the welfare effects of trade). While I share criticisms like these in principle, I would argue they do not justify to simply mirror the mainstream's ignorance towards heterodox forms of economic theorizing. So, let's take this question seriously for a minute or two.

The problem seems tricky as the set of journals to consider is huge and contains many candidates that could be interesting for heterodox economists for topical reasons – journals like the Review of Income and Wealth, Labour Economics or the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy would fall into this group. Other outlets might be relevant because of their applied nature, for instance, the Journal of Policy Modeling, Economic Policy, or the Oxford Review of Economic Policy. Finally, an argument can be made to look at the Big 5 journals to keep track of what's going on at the edge of mainstream discourse.

While these first intuitions all have their merits, I would eventually recommend settling on regularly inspecting the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) as well as the Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP). The main reason for this is that, as a heterodox economist, I would like to stay somewhat up to date with what's going on within mainstream research in general; that is, beyond the confinements of my narrower research interest. In this context, both journals do a good job in keeping me in touch with mainstream discourse without the need to become a specialist in a variety of mainstream fields. In addition, they occasionally peek over the fences and discuss important topics and issues that typically remain neglected in mainstream discourse. Examples of this can be found in the Journal of Economic Perspectives‘s 'Retrospectives' section, or the (mostly critical) reviews of heterodoxy-inspired books in the Journal of Economic Literature. Additionally, the latter sometimes features review articles which are also interesting from a heterodox standpoint (examples can be found here, here or, most recently, here).

If I had to select a third journal for inclusion, I would probably go for including the AER Papers & Proceedings Issue that's published once a year based on the contributions at the ASSA-conference. Like JEP & JEL, these issues provide a good overview of current debates and are also topically and conceptually more diverse than an average issue of the AER. Focusing on these three outlets seems somewhat efficient: it allows you to loosely track many issues and debates, which makes it easier to establish some ties between your own work and mainstream discourse while not being too demanding in terms of time and attention devoted.

Maybe these elaborations are helpful for organizing your own reading schedule or maybe you would want to challenge my suggestion. In any case, you can contact the Newsletter's team anytime at newsletter@heterodoxnews.com to share your thoughts, comments and suggestions.

All the best,

Jakob

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