Sunday, February 7, 2016

A course on human socio-biology

The title of this post is not exactly the title of the course I will start teaching this Tuesday. The title is "Political Economy", and it will be the second part (about Macroeconomics) of an introductory course in economics for Sociology students. I have been thinking about ways to motivate their interest in the subject. Although the textbook is the one by Krugman et al., which is more than enough material, I will try to add comments and references to topics that are related to the broader social sciences and to Sociology in particular. I will also try to find strategies to relate the contents to media news, along the lines of the book by the late Peter Kennedy on understanding macroeconomics from the news (recommended to me by my great sociologist and statistician friend, Daniel Guinea). To study social insects (such as bees or ants), we do not distinguish between sociology and economics, but we (or biologists) understand that they are organized in complex societies to better solve their problems of resource allocation and distribution. In the interacting global economy I am not sure that one can study macroecomics in a separate way from social influences and dynamics, as I do not know how we can study sociology without understanding how we allocate and distribute our scarce resources in a way that promotes or harms well being. That is why I am reading interesting articles on social capital, networks and structures, and how they are related to economic development, by authors like Durlauf, Granovetter or Dasgupta. The latter's "Very Short Introduction" to Economics is a masterpiece of clarity on the impossibility to separate economics from other social sciences, as well as the impossibility to separate microeconomics of macroeconomics.

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