The standard view of the history of macroeconomics is one of a series of battles between schools of thought, eventually resolved through a “new neoclassical synthesis” achieved during the 1990s. Recently, however, historians have challenged the very notion that macroeconomists' models and practices can adequately be understood as a series of battles between schools of thought. Our purpose, in this article, is to tell the story of another set of researchers, “sunspot” theorists. Drawing on archives, interviews and bibliometric evidence, we explain why this loose community came to use several modeling strategies, including overlapping generation models, the Arrow-Debreu framework with restricted participation, game theory, and chaotic dynamics. They also developed overlapping yet distinct vocabularies, including terms such as sunspots, animal spirits, and self-fulfilling prophecies. We use the Alceste software to perform an unsupervised classification of text units according to the pattern of co-occurrences of word tokens within these units. The classification method provides evidence of the early fragmentation of the sunspot literature. To identify alternative meanings of a given lexical world the Alceste method analyzes interpretable segments of text, called “context units.”

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