Economics are too important to leave to economists: The everyday - and emotional - dimensions of international political economy

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Title Economics are too important to leave to economists: The everyday - and emotional - dimensions of international political economy
Author Widmaier, Wesley
Journal Name Review of International Political Economy
Year Published 2009
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Abstract Emotional forces shape not only market tendencies to 'manias, panics and crashes', but also policy debates as they predispose agents to definitions of state and societal interests. Nevertheless, IR scholars often downplay emotional influences, casting them as secondary to coalitional or cognitive forces. In this article, I address these limitations by disaggregating intersubjective understandings into popularly resonant traditions of thought and elite-based paradigmatic frameworks. Drawing on the insights of Reinhold Niebuhr and Richard Hofstadter, I then argue that elite anxieties regarding populism can engender the 'technocratic repression' of emotion from paradigmatic debates in ways that paradoxically render policy less stable and pragmatic. Firstly, such repression obscures the emotional bases of market trends and engenders overconfidence in the ability of monetary fine-tuning to restrain manias and to contain panics. Secondly, in isolating paradigmatic debate from everyday language, technocratic repression frustrates deliberation and can exacerbate populist resentments, requiring the construction of crises to advance change. Shifting to an empirical focus, I suggest that tendencies to technocratic repression in the 1990s and early 21st century engendered overconfidence in monetary fine-tuning. In the post-subprime context, the key question is the extent to which this bias in favour of monetary policy has been reversed, or whether constructions of the subprime crisis have legitimated a revived regulatory stress. In sum, this analysis highlights the reality of emotion as an influence on the international political economy.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI
Volume 16
Issue Number 5
Page from 945
Page to 957
ISSN 0969-2290
Date Accessioned 2010-09-29
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Governance and Public Policy; Griffith Asia Institute
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject International Relations
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1x

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