Many interwar British economists actively engaged in public economic discourse. Any investigation into these popular economic writings forces the historian to appreciate the frailty, novelty, and, most importantly, sheer extent of the material available. Such popular (nonacademic) economic material captured much of the energy and immediacy of contemporary economic forces. This essay focuses on the role that such popular publications played in defining these economists as public intellectuals. Writing against a backdrop of mass unemployment and industrial transformation, many British economists brought the public to the fore of their discussions and adopted the roles of observers, commentators, and persuaders. As a consequence of this, the social purpose that underpinned the public pronouncements of this body of public (economic) intellectuals came to embody two interconnected themes: first, a desire to influence the economic behavior of society, and second, a defense of established economic doctrine against the attacks of spurious, ill-advised, pseudo-economic myths that festered within the public consciousness.
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Research Article| December 01 2013
Chris Godden; Observers, Commentators, and Persuaders: British Interwar Economists as Public Intellectuals. History of Political Economy 1 December 2013; 45 (suppl_1): 38–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-2310944
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