- 29/03/2019 - 30/03/2019
09:00 - 17:00
“Elinor Ostrom: women and economics” [tbc] – Sarah Smith, Universit ofy Bristol
“The Ideal of Self Governance” – Mark Pennington, King’s College London
“Ostrom, Polycentric Orders and Citizen Engagement” [tbc] – Peter Boettke, George Mason University
Ten years since Elinor Ostrom was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics, it is timely to think about not only her own work and that of her husband Vincent Ostrom and their many students, but also the continuing research agenda that they created and which arises from their work. The work of the Ostroms is in many ways more timely and significant than ever, given the challenges faced in contemporary politics and public policy and the limitations of many dominant approaches in economics, political science, and the social sciences more generally. In addition she remains so far the only woman to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics and her unique success in that regard raises interesting questions about the place and history of women scholars and researchers in the discipline.
The conference calls for papers on three main themes:
Women in Economics: This theme here has two main aspects. The first is the part played by women in the historical and contemporary development of economic thought and analysis. Some are well known such as Joan Robinson and Ostrom herself, others such as Jane Marcet and Harriet Martineau or Francoise Poulain de la Barre are important but hardly known. Today there are many trained and influential women economists yet the field is still perceived as being male dominated and with a style and ethos that is strongly masculine (in a way that is not true of other disciplines). Why is this and is it changing? What kinds of work are women economists doing today? Do they bring particular insights or perspectives and if so what might these be? What part have women played in the history of economic thought and analysis?
The second aspect is that of women and their lives and networks as a subject for economic study, a topic that is particularly relevant to many of the other concerns of Ostrom’s research project. The economic role of women is still understudied, given that so much of it takes place in the non-traded or domestic part of the economy. How might we study it and how significant is it? How has modern capitalism changed the position of women compared to what it was in previous historical periods? What are the implications of modern market economies for the economic and social position of women? Women play a disproportionately important part in many non-state and non-market networks and social organisations, the central topic of the Ostrom’s research work. Why is this, what part do they play, how are social and economic networks of this kind maintained and why are women so important for them?
Spontaneous Order and its Expressions: Elinor Ostrom was one of the principal theorists and explorers of the phenomenon of spontaneous or emergent order. That is, the way that complex forms of social organisation and order cam emerge as ways of dealing with often complex and difficult problems or challenges but without conscious design or planning. Her own particular contribution was to look at cases where this was done without the use of either government and other kinds of explicit designed order or markets and similar kinds of aggregative mechanism. Instead she and her students explored the way that complex systems of rules and institutions emerged to deal with problems. These were often concerned with the management of common access resources and the avoidance of commons problems but the principle or insight has wider application. How should we understand Ostrom as a theorist of spontaneous order? What kinds of insights can we draw from her work in a range of areas of public policy and academic enquiry? What are its applications for example in environmental matters? What other areas are there where this agenda can be applied besides common access resources? What can we make of the kinds of things she looked at as alternatives to both planning (government and private) and markets? What are the limitations of her approach? In particular, can this be scaled?
Citizen Engagement and Polycentric Order in a Democratic Polity: Elinor Ostrom’s work should be understood as a partnership with that of her husband Vincent. They were both deeply concerned with the question of the nature of effective public administration, and that of the connections between the diffusion of power in a polycentric political and social order and engagement on the part of an informed and effective citizenry, and the maintenance of a liberal and democratic social and political order. Elinor and Vincent’s work raises many pressing questions for us today. What is a polycentric social and political order, and what are the threats to it? How can dispersed and decentralised, bottom-up decision making processes work? What is the real nature of public administration and can we say that it is in crisis today? What kinds of challenges does the ideal of an engaged citizenry and dispersed power and decision making face today and how might we overcome them? What does rational choice theory imply for our understanding of politics and public policy?
We invite individual papers and session proposals reflecting on the legacy of Elinor Ostrom. Contributions from any scholarly perspective shedding light on her work are welcome including economics, politics and allied disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.
To submit a paper or session, please send a 500 word abstract to [email protected]
Call deadline: 18 February 2019