By Lillian Dam Bracia
The winter calls for warmth, so getting that dose of “Sex and the City” during the Christmas break, all cuddly and cozy on my bed, was more than a must. Once started I had to be careful to not get too Carrie’d away; I paused to puke out all of the emotional garbage I had seen on screen. For those of you fortunate ones, who have not watched the show, “Sex and the City” entails the life of four successful New Yorkers in their thirties who face ups and downs in their love lives. As you might guess, it can get very cheesy and can be as mind numbing as a ‘chick flick’. Nonetheless, while watching it I could not help but think of my personal life in the last three semesters at UC and eventually yes, sex. That’s right: sex. Wait a sec, or may I say: SEX where did you go? For us poor souls constituting…
By Lillian Dam Bracia
The world of economics is around us at all times. For some a fascinating field, for others, an aberration. Nonetheless, the topic has many roots in the values and aspirations many of us hold today, whether we are aware of it or not. Those who study and choose a career on that path are most likely to hold positions of influential power. It is common to find such students wanting to apply for a job in a bank, a multinational or in the government. They are or will be the ones to maneuver that invisible hand and determine the ball game for everyone. With an economic crisis behind us and various uprisings as consequence of that disaster, it feels uneasy to look towards what is in wait for the future.
From all the economic classes I have taken in UCU and elsewhere, one thing I could not help but to realize is how the subject lacks a branch for dealing specifically with critical analysis of economic assumptions and policies forming the system we live in. If economics is used to direct us towards efficient ways in which we should deploy Earth’s resources in order to sustain ourselves, I think that it is of utmost importance that students are given the opportunity to discuss and evaluate critically the social implications deriving from economic policies, especially of those set in real life. An example of policy and few outcomes to think about could be NAFTA, a trade agreement between US, Canada and Mexico in 1994. Perhaps this will ring a bell; think cheap shoes, think Mexican drug cartels, think a skyrocketing GDP and a simultaneously steep rise in homicide rates.
I would like to put stress on the words social and real life mentioned a few sentences back. A new approach would potentially mean flipping economics completely around by illuminating socially embedded aspects of economic outcomes. This could be done by examining case studies such as those briefly mentioned before the NAFTA agreement. In this case, economists would not only be encouraged to evaluate such agreements in terms of economic assumptions regarding free-trade, relative prices and gains but also to move a step further and shift attention into the effects specific stakeholders experience and the extent to which these effects are different amongst stakeholders from country to country. In economics, free trade is assumed to be beneficial for both trading countries due to an increase of welfare in comparison to the welfare they would have gained if not in trade. When creating such discourses economists very often forget to dive deeper in explaining who exactly is likely to have access to this welfare gain. By whom exactly I mean not only which nations but, individuals, working citizens making up the economic activities contributing to this increase in welfare but who are, at the same time, undeniably differentiated from one another through the existence of social class. Failing to ask that question in economics I find it troublesome, as it makes easy to justify the dictation of economic assumptions without addressing the roots of economic inequality that strongly prevail in the world conducted by a system we are taught and naturalized to live by. Observing and evaluating economics through a sociological lens does not aim to strip the subject from its fundamental rationalistic and incentive based way of thinking but instead, to refrain from its disregarding nature towards the seriousness of social problems arising from economic policies and agreements.
It is not out of pure “emotional terms” (literally the words misters Krugman, Obstfeld and Melitz used in reference to the concern of exploitation in free trade) that I raise this concern, as my textbook for IE class would interpret it. I suggest this because, perhaps, if economics started being studied from a perspective that is not only a completely mathematical and rational-purposed based one but evaluated also more through a sociological lens, one would be able to observe more openly, and maybe even more honestly, the fallacies theoretical assumptions have in relation to current circumstances and consequences of globalization.
In international economics class we learn about economic assumptions of world welfare and living standards when trade is opened between countries. The main concern is that such terms are applied in a superficial manner, unclearly defined or sometimes not even at all. What I find it critical is that such words are expressed seemingly without much thought or meaning into it while at the same time incorporated in theories in which we are taught to be the best way possible for us to organize ourselves. For those of you who feel the same way I recommend a read of “Small Is Beautiful- A Study of Economics As If People Mattered” (I assume the title says enough) by E. F. Schumacher. I suppose the main message here is that economics after all, is a SOCIAL science and not just science – even though from the way it is narrowly focused in most higher education institutions, one cannot be surprised to find this the impression.
(Unfortunately article was not found on the internet, only paper copy)