Changing the world one student at a time? Uncovering subjective understandings of economics instructors' roles

Gruszka, Katarzyna and Scharbert, Annika Regine and Soder, Michael (2016) Changing the world one student at a time? Uncovering subjective understandings of economics instructors' roles. Ecological Economic Papers, 7. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


Download (1MB)


In the wake of the economic crisis, a number of student organisations and researchers came together to highlight the lack of pluralism and heterodox approaches in economics curricula. The high relevance of the pluralism debate becomes clear once set within the considerations of the implications of a given scientific discourse on reality. This is especially relevant for social sciences, where reality-creating is visible in e.g. the influence of economists on policy making. This study explores the role of instructors in co-constructing the dynamics of the pluralism discourse and debates. An empirical field study is conducted with lecturers in introductory economics courses at the WU Vienna University of Economics and Business where they place themselves within the pluralism discourse via a Q-study. Q is a mixed method typically employed for studying subjectivity inherent to a given, socially contested topic. It begins with a set of statements that undergo a sorting procedure on a relative ranking scale, and finishes with factorrendering. Four voices are identified: Moderate Pluralist, Mainstreamers, Responsible Pluralists, and Applied Pluralists. The implications of the ideas brought by these voices are discussed from the point of view of discursive institutionalism, stressing in particular the role of ideas and discourse in institutional change. On top of what is here referred to as discursive readinesses for changes towards more pluralism, strategies for overcoming the difficulties on the institutional level need to be developed. (authors' abstract)

Item Type: Paper
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Ecological Economics
Depositing User: Karin Lagger
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2016 10:54
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 00:41


Addams, H. and Proops, B. (2000): Social Discourse and Environmental Policy: An Application of Q

Methodology. Cheltenham: Elgar.

Albizua, A. and Zografos, C. (2014): A Values-Based Approach to Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change. Applying Q methodology in the Ebro Delta, Spain. Environmental Policy and Governance 24, 405-422.

Barry, J., Proops, J. (1999): Seeking sustainability discourses with Q methodology. Journal of Ecological Economics 28 (3), 337-345.

Berger, P.L. and Luckmann, T. (1966): The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise in the Sociology of

Knowledge. New York: Doubleday.

Bigo, V. and Negru, I. (2008): From Fragmentation to Ontologically Reflexive Pluralism. Journal of Philosophical Economics, 1(2), 127-150.

Bourdieu, P. (1994): Raisons Pratique. Paris: Le Seuil.

Brand, U. et al. (2013): Debating transformation in multiple crises. In ISSC/UNESCO, World Social Science Report 2013: Changing Global Environments. OECS Publishing and Unesco Publishing, 480-484.

Brannstrom, C. (2011): A Q-Method Analysis of Environmental Governance Discourses in Brazil's Northeastern Soy Frontier. The Professional Geographer, 63 (4), 531-549

Brown, S.R. (1980): Political Subjectivity: Applications of Q Methodology in Political Science. Yale University Press, New Haven/London.

Cairns, R. and Stirling, A. (2014): Maintaining planetary systems or concentrating global power?

High stakes in contending framings of climate geoengineering. Global Environmental Change 28, 25-38.

Coyle, D. (2012): What's the use of Economics? Teaching the Dismal Science after the Crisis. London Publishing Partnership.

Colander, D. (2005): The Making of an Economist Redux. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19 (1), 175-198.

Davis, J. (2006): Social identity strategies in recent economics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 13(3), 371-390.

Davies, B. and Hodge, I. (2012): Shifting environmental perspectives in agriculture: Repeated Q analysis and the stability of preference structures. Ecological Economics, Vol.83, pp.51-57.

Denis, A. (2013): Pluralism in Economics Education. In: J. Jespersen & M. O. Madsen (Eds.): Teaching Post Keynesian Economics. (pp. 88-105). Cheltenham, Elgar.

Kapeller, J. and Dobusch, L. (2012): Heterodox United vs. Mainstream City? Sketching a framework for interested pluralism in economics. Journal of Economic Issues, 46(4): 1035-1057.

Dow, S. C. (2008): Plurality in Orthodox and Heterodox Economics. Journal of Philosophical Economics, 1(2), 73-96.

Dryzek, J.S. and Berejikian, J. (1993): Reconstructive Democratic Theory. The American Political Science Review, 87(1), pp.48-60.

Eden, S., Donaldson, A., Walker, G. (2005): Structuring subjectivities? Using Q methodology in human geography. Area 37 (4), 413-422.

Faucault, M. (2000): Power. Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984. Vol.3, ed. JD Faubion. New York: New Press.

Ferraro et al (2005): Economics Language and Assumptions: How Theories Can Become Selffulfilling. Academy of Management Review, 30(1), 8-24.

Fourcade, M., Ollion, E., Algan (2014): The Superiority of Economists. MaxPo Discussion Paper 14/3. Max Plank Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies.

Freeman, A. (2009): The Economists of Tomorrow : the Case for a Pluralist Subject Benchmark Statement for Economics. International Review of Economics Education, 8(2), 23-40.

Funtowicz, S.O. and J.R. Ravetz (1994): The worth of a songbird: ecological economics as a postnormal science. Ecological Economics, 10(3), 197-207.

Gallagher, K. and Porock, D. (2010): The use of interviews in Q methodology. Nursing Research, 59 (4): 195-300.

Giddens, A. (1984): The constitution of society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Glötzl, F. and Aigner, E. (2015): Pluralism in the Market of Science? A citation network analysis of economic research at universities in Vienna. Ecological Economic Papers, 5. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.

Gouldner, A. (1970): The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. New York: Basic Books.

Gramsci, A. (1971): Selections from the Prison Notebooks. New York: International Publishers.

Gruber, J. (2011): Perspectives of effective and ustainable community-based natural resource management: an application of Q methodology to forest projects. Conservation and Society, 9(2),159-171.

Haberl, H., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Krausmann, F., Martinez, Alier, J., and Winiwarter, V.(2011): A Socio-metabolic Transition towards Sustainability? Challenges for another Great Transformation. Sustainable Development, 19, 1-14.

Hogan, A. (2010): A comparison of offline and online Q factors. In: Paper read at the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity (ISSSS), 26th Annual Q Conference, Akron, OH, USA, October 7-9, 2010, pp. 1-6.

IREE (2009) Special Issue: Pluralism in Economics Education. Ed: Andy Denis. International Review of Economics Education, 8(2).

ISIPE (2014): Open Letter. International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics. Accessed on 16.03.2015. Available at:

JPE (2008): Pluralism and Heterodoxy. 1(2), Special Issue: Keynes, J.M. (1936) The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

Kuhn, T.S. (1962): The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kuhn, T.S. (1970): The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2nd Ed.

Lansing, D.M., (2013):. Not all baselines are created equal: A Q methodology analysis of 24 stakeholder perspectives of additionality in a carbon forestry offset project in Costa Rica. Global Environmental Change 23, 654-663.

Mäki U. (1997): The one world and the many theories. In Salanti, A. and Screpanti, E. (Eds) Pluralism in Economics. Cheltenham: Elgar.

Marglin, S.A. (2008): The Dismal Science. How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community.HUP.

McKeown, B.F., and Thomas, D.B. (1988):. Q methodology. Quantitative applications in the social sciences series, 66.

Mearman, A. (2014): How should economics curricula be evaluated? Economics Working Paper Series, 1306, University of the West of England, Faculty of Business and Law, Bristol, 73-86.

Negru I. (2010): From plurality to pluralism in the teaching economics: the role of critical thinking. International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education (IJPEE), 1(3), 185-193.

Osborne, J., and Collins, S. (2001): Pupils' views of the role and value of the science curriculum: a focus-group study. International Journal of Science Education, 23(5), 441-467.

PCES (2014): Economics, Education and Unlrearning: Economics Education at the University of

Manchester. The Post-Crash Economics Society. Available at http://www.postcrasheconomics.

com/economics-education-and-unlearning/Powell, R.A. and Single, H.M.( 1996): Focus groups. International Journal of Quality in Health Care,8(5), 499-504.

Previte et al. (2007): Q methodology and rural research. Sociologia Ruralis, 47 (2), 135-47.

Robbins, P., Krueger, R. (2000): Beyond bias' The promise and limits of Q method in human geography. The Professional Geographer 52(4), 636-648.

Schmidt, V. (2008): Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 303-326.

Schmidt, V. (2011): Speaking of change: why discourse is key to the dynamics of policy transformation. Critical Policy Studies, 5(2), 106-126.

Scoones, I., Newell, P., and Leach, M. (2015): The Politics of Green Transformations. In: Scoones, I., Leach, M., and Newell, P. (Eds.): The Politics of Green Transformations. London: Earthscan from Routledge, p. 1-24.

Söderbaum, P. (2005): Economics as ideology and the need for pluralism. In: A guide to what's wrong with economics. London : Anthem Press, ISBN 978-1-84331-148-5. - 2005, p. 158-168.

Stephen, T.D. (1985): Q-methodology in communication science: An introduction. Communication Quarterly, 33(3), 193-208.

Stephenson, W. (1953): The Study of Behavior: Q-technique and its Methodology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Swedeen, P. (2006): Post-normal science in practice: A Q study of the potential for sustainable forestry in Washington State, USA. Ecological Economics, Vol.57 (2), pp.190-208.

Tsoukas, H. and Knudsen, C. (2005): The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory. OUP.

Watts, S. and Stenner, P. (2012): Doing Q methodological Research. Theory, Method and Interpretation. Sage: London.

Webler, T., Stentor D., and Tuler, S. (2009): Using Q method to reveal social perspectives in environmental research. Greenfield MA: Social and Environmental Research Institute 54.


View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics