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Economic experts: a discursive political
economy of economics
Jens Maesse



Philippsring 29, Mainz-Kastel, 55252, Germany
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unemployment and taxation to education. politics. The claim of this paper is that the power of economic expert discourses in the media. ideas and solutions through discourses. economics is not only an academic practice but it is also a political project. in academia or in other professional contexts – is always a power struggle in order to enforce a particular discursive perspective. 2015 http://dx.1050029 LEAD ARTICLE Economic experts: a discursive political economy of economics Jens Maesse* Philippsring 29. the media and academia. They are not the product of one single social field. with one identity and one social role. hegemonic position in the global political of Multicultural Discourses. post-structuralism.2015. Economists are frequently requested to offer their expertise as solutions for a variety of social problems. accepted 3 May 2015) The aim of this article is to show that economic experts are not the product of one single social field. While classical approaches in Political Economy reduce power mainly to money and violence. Therefore. Germany Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 (Received 7 March 2015. with one identity and one role. Whereas ‘economic experts’ are usually conceived as singular. This hegemonic claim is made against other alternative forms of knowledge.1080/17447143. They participate in almost every debate in society and politics: the topics range from European integration. Keywords: economic expert discourse. development. coherent and integrated figures. the contribution explores how economists occupy a powerful. cultural political economy.doi. Mainz-Kastel. 55252. This article shows how economists are constructed in and through discursive practices. the discursive construction of economic experts – whether in the media. In this respect. In the first step it is shown how discourse and power interact. discourse studies 1. In the second step the paper explores the discursive power logic of economic expert discourses at the interface between academia. this article argues that economic experts are multiple. heterogeneous and disintegrated beings. Introduction Who is an ‘economic expert’? Economic experts play an important role in politics. They are rather the product of a trans-epistemic discursive *Email: jensmaesse@gmx. since economic experts hegemonize their interpretations. science and health care. politics and the political economy is based on an elitism dispositif which emerged in the academic world of economics in the USA as an ‘excellence myth’. economic sociology. By a combination of discourse analytical tools from post-structuralism and a theory of symbolic power derived from Bourdieu’s work. this paper takes the recent debates on the cultural turn in Political Economy as a starting point to develop the idea of a Discursive Political Economy of © 2015 Taylor & Francis . media and the economy with illustrations from empirical research. They are rather the product of a trans-epistemic discursive field.

As a first step. this contribution calls for a theory of power and discourse.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 2 J. 2012. the discursive role of economic experts is of particular interest here.1 The DPEE approach takes a critical discourse analytical view on economic expert discourses without universalizing this perspective. media and the economy and. Stavrakakis 2013. The combination of discursive practices and power strategies is important to understand how economists are constructed. Thus. Two sections will outline the perspective of a DPEE. economic experts are strengthening and enforcing their particular point of view against others and create an exclusive perspective. Since economic expertise becomes relevant mainly through the particular nature of the perspective from which this expertise is uttered. the DPEE approach is outlined as a methodology where the interplay of power and discourse in the construction of economic experts takes place at the interface between politics. This discourse is not only a communicative process. politics. economic experts are considered as actors produced by discursive positioning processes. first. Thus. it deals with power as well. Thus. Above all. a combination of theories of discourse and power is necessary to understand these processes. The aim of this article is to show how economic experts as ‘hybrid beings’ are constructed and constituted at the interface between science. The particular combination of power and discourse analytical approaches on economic experts is the centrepiece of the DPEE approach. focusing on interruptions. This is the reason why the analysis of the trans-epistemic logic of economic expert discourse is paralled by introducing the DPEE methodology. Because this paper aims at two goals. Thus. socially and culturally specific. it shows how economic experts are constructed through discourses. politics and society. In the second step (Section 3). cleavages and divisions implanted on discourses by the powerful forces of inequality and suppression. Maesse 2013a) is made (Section 2). business and the media. On the contrary. presenting a methodology that allows us to study this construction process. media and business. This section shows that economic expert knowledge is not an . second. the DPEE approach is a ‘particularistic’ approach since it takes into account power relations in discourses which are always seen as historically. showing how economic experts are constructed at the interface of academia. politics. It is. With a discourse theoretical and poststructuralist adaption and transformation of Bourdieu’s concept of ‘capital’. second. it can be regarded as a positive form of critical discourse analysis because it takes into account the materiality of power structures in discourses as it has been put forward by Bourdieu and Foucault alike. the DPEE is neither holistic (Shi-xu 2014) in the sense that it will encompass the entire cultural universe of discursive practices nor is it normative (Wodak and Meyer 2001. science. This section argues for a discursive as well as an economic extension for the study of the political economy. This paper promotes an extension of the discursive perspective by the power dimension. they are not equally positioned in relation to other perspectives. this article will present the idea of a Discursive Political Economy of Economics (DPEE). the article will be divided into three main sections. Yet. Maesse field. In order to show how this process of the trans-epistemic construction of economic experts operates. Rather. Fairclough 2006) in the way that it would presuppose norms and values which serve as a basis for a political critique. it presents a methodology that helps us to understand this construction processes. Glynos et al. Compared with other research perspectives from economic sociology and Political Economy. an argument for a discourse analytical extension of Political Economy and economic sociology (Jessop 2004. this contribution is following two interrelated aims: first. therefore. this methodology is focusing on the role of discourses from economics for the formation of the economy.

operating along categories such as ‘market efficiency’ vs. Next to these state interventions. Instead. they still keep an institutionally truncated attitude towards markets and institutions. institutionalist approaches from economics. this contribution combines two goals which simultaneously refer to each other: developing a theory of economic experts as heterogeneous beings of a trans-epistemic world and presenting a methodology that helps us to understand the discourse of economists as a power strategy. the concept of ‘efficiency’ serves as a general benchmark and guiding principle in order to promote more economically effective market relations guided by institutions. Classical approaches between free market. and confidence in. the political. Akerlof and Dickens 1982). powerful positioning practices are possible only because of the constitutive relations of exchange between the academic. political science and economic sociology focus mainly on the impact of lobby groups and other ‘stakeholders’ (such as trade unions. Although economists who are critical of overreliance on free markets such as Stiglitz or Akerlof. institutionalists have not yet developed a theoretically elaborated concept of power and social structure (Bourdieu 2005. ‘unfair’. These differences are analysed in depth elsewhere (Mirowski and Plehwe 2009). This institutionalist perspective prevails not only for large areas of research in economics. Thus. ‘democratic legitimacy’ and assessing regulation measures as ‘efficient’ vs. Typically. the institutionalist perspective on markets is not only shared by neoclassical advocates of free markets. Mainstream economics while strongly advocating free markers does allow for exceptional interventions by state institutions for the production of efficient market relations (Rothschild 1989). Here boundaries between scepticism of. restricted to the academic world. ‘harmful’. the DPEE approach is not only illustrated with an empirical analysis of practices of discourse and power of economic experts.1. trusts. ‘suitable’ vs. Within economics there are a variety of positions from free-market fundamentalists to more technocratic views. crisscrossed by multiple voices. Thus. plea for stronger governmental regulations and macroeconomic interventions. markets are fluid. markets and the wider economic system are influenced by political interventions (Frey 1978. a largely implicit concept of ‘power’ is at work here.Journal of Multicultural Discourses 3 Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 isolated phenomenon. from classical liberals to neoliberals. It is also outlined how economic experts are constructed as a hybrid being. It also applies to rational choice approaches in economic sociology (Swedberg 2003). In the fourth section. Whynes 1984). behavioural economics (Kahneman and Tversky 1979) and game theory (Selten 2001). the actors playing this game . The aim of these interventions is to influence the actions of market participants according to the market rule of supply and demand for goods and services. politics and the media. 1984. social norms and other regulatory devices. but also by critics such as information economics (Greenwald et al. the economic and the media world. business. 2. It is rather considered as a product of the trans-epistemic field of science. Hence. customers) on markets and the economy. Here. It is shown how economists act in split social field. Lebaron 2001a). Yet. Perspectives in political economy 2. this institutional shortening reduces political influence over markets essentially on governmental regulations or interest groups. In order to understand this impact. Here. the paper is moving forward by applying the DPEE methodology onto economic expert discourse. the state and power Studies in Political Economy usually study the way how firms.

However. the influences and interests of the capitalist class are studied in all areas of social life of capitalism that reaches beyond those oppositions. a systematic consideration of the role of knowledge and culture remained a desideratum of studies in Political Economy. They have successfully overcome the opposition between market vs. Next to a variety of other approaches (see. It is the access to economic resources and the opportunities derived from this access to influence the law. Finally. not the state is the main agency of power. media and education. as conventionally understood. Klamer et al. argue for a comprehensive account of cultural dynamics for the study of the relationship between the economy and political interventions. Maesse have interests. preferences and perceptions which help them to influence the decisionmaking process (Scharpf 1997). Marxist approaches focus on the power dimension of politics and the economy. Yet. O’Rourke 2014). ‘markets’. But the way how knowledge. ‘Political economy. ‘state’. public choice.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 4 J. Thus. the Marxist approaches in Political Economy soon came across internal borders. the media (Horkheimer and Adorno 2001). the most important power resource is not the government’s sovereignty. This applies to the impact on the state (Poulantzas 1978. 1985. Arrighi 1994). since they presuppose an implicit. the education system (Bowles and Gintis 1977) and other branches of social and cultural life. the civil society (Gramsci 1971). Thus. state by reformulating the concept of power according to categories of social class. The contributions in Best and Paterson’s (2009a) study. thus fails to fully . within this conceptualization of classical political economy. Values. the dialectical opposition between the economic base and the social superstructure defines the relationship between society. or Marxist terms. beliefs and knowledge play a major role for the constitution of markets. ‘realist-positivist’ concept of power (Wullweber and Scherrer 2010). for instance. power and the economy. Marxism plays a central role for a critical discussion in Political Economy (Boyer and Saillard 2002. Nevertheless. security. Evans et al. ‘democracy’. classification categories arise such as ‘market’ vs.3). ‘governance’ vs. statist. culture and power interact with each other remained restricted to the idea of ideology as a ‘false consciousness’. Rather.2) and argue for a discursive understanding of ‘culture’ (Section 2. The relationship between political action and economic relations is no longer reduced on the relationship between the ‘state’ vs. The following subsections will explain the cultural turn in Political Economy (Section 2. social discourse (Althusser 1971). as well as to the firm and industry (Holst and Dörre 2013). Power is here predominantly understood from a class theory viewpoint. institutionalist. Jessop 1993). Those oppositions appear to approaches from critical Political Economy as problematic oppositions. power is basically understood as an access to resources in order to preserve or change power relations and to mobilize or demobilize discourses of critique and resistance. Compared to conventional perspectives. By contrast. Accordingly. The cultural turn in political economy This ‘cultural gap’ has recently been discussed in the Political Economy from different interdisciplinary approaches. with this realist theory of power. power and ideologies are studied from a social conflict point of view. ‘the economy’. Here. ‘efficiency’ vs. whether in neoclassical. for instance. companies and the wider political economy. 2. research on the history of ideas have analysed the role and impact of ideologies and political ideas (Hall 1989) as well as their institutionalization (Crouch and Streeck 1995).2. it is the social class and the manifest and latent structures of class domination. 1988.

As Mosco (1996) has shown. Mosco addressed the manifold character of meaning and communication through commodification processes and mass media. Callon. They have shown that the economy is formatted by knowledge from economics. the state. For example. media and information technology have an impact in politics and the economy. 2007). Jameson (1989) has pointed out the deep cultural penetration of capitalism. With this idea. Thus. alongside institutions.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 5 explain its object because it abstracts political economy from its cultural constitution’ (Best and Paterson 2009b. 2). the product of economics. Here. ‘the economy’ itself was first created as a political-economic relationship between economic aggregates and public interventions through the application of macroeconomic theory by state institutions on society. rather. ‘the economy’ is not the object but. While the research of the history of political ideas highlighted the competition over political ideas and their institutional implementation. While in classical Political Economy economics is understood as a science that studies the economy. although a political-economic reflection of the cultural dimension has not yet been done. semiotics works as a device for stabilizing ‘regimes of accumulation’. This cultural dimension of the political economy has been outlined in more detail with respect to its communicational and discursive aspects. Culture as cultural capital is not only the passive expression of economic capital. They are. the political economy produces dominant fields of the thinkable and speakable. Fairclough 2006). Economics provides knowledge that is used for classifying and transforming reality. ‘performative’ relations are not only operative between economics and markets but also between other fields and objects of the political economy. as Callon (1998) and MacKenzie (2006) have demonstrated. Following Adorno and Horkheimer’s Critical Theory. economics does not simply observe the economy. ‘Good ideas’ are not conceived as ‘good’ due to their capability to offer appropriate solutions for ‘real’ problems. In particular. However. 2008. it is a means of power. economics is regarded as an ideology apparatus to veil hidden class interests. as Breslau (2003) shows. Jessop (2004) calls for a systematic conceptualization of culture. Instead. knowledge about markets and the economy performs and transforms the object of observation like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Jessop and Sum (2006) are carrying out a cultural critique on the regulation theory. the economy and class under the concept of Cultural Political Economy. According to Desrosières (1998). Thus. above all. even the state. and not only the economy. Through a systematic consideration of processes of ‘semiosis’ in all areas of political and economic life. MacKenzie and Co. Thus. Jessop and Sum take a critical realist perspective. In order to maintain a certain power structure. from this constructivist perspective. the emerging neoliberal ‘knowledge society’ can be analysed (Jessop et al. powerful ideas serving the interests of powerful social groups. They enforce certain interpretations over alternative forms of legitimate ideas. and for critical Political Economy economics as neoclassical. have shown that knowledge from economics can be analysed as a tool for the construction of economic and market relations (MacKenzie et al. public ideas have an impact on political institutions and the economy because they are part of a social power structure. The positivistic ideal upheld and paraded by economics is a myth concealing this internal political dimension of economics. as Bourdieu (1989) has already pointed out. However. is . Yet. performation studies developed new perspectives on the economy. Economic sociology as well as financialization studies have extended their research perspective on the cultural dimension of politics and the economy too. power relations and economic conditions. With the combination of semiotics and social structure.

The economic and financial world is not just studied by economics and controlled by governmental interventions and regulations. a widespread penetration of ideas. The discursivity of the political economy With the introduction of the discursive dimension of the political economy. Rather.3. Wullweber and Scherrer 2010. While semiotic approaches look for powerful meanings and performative approaches seem to presuppose an identity of economic semiotics and market structures . the post-structuralists do not only criticize the essentialist character of positivistic-realistic approaches in political economy. discourse studies on the relationship between economics. media and academia becomes substantial.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 6 J. as Fourcade (2006) has shown. financialization studies deals with the relationship between culture. categories and concepts from the financial world has been observed (Martin 2002). initially. Thus. While. Maesse the result of the combination of statistics. the economy and politics insists on the interpretative and contextual character of the political economy as a culturalized political economy (Dannreuther 2007). Thereby. the discursive dimension of financialization was discussed. Economics. This also goes for economics itself. hence. concepts such as neoliberalism and globalization refer primarily to economic policies and global transformations of capitalist power relations (Epstein 2005). Knowledge that may have an influence on politics. politics and the economy as well. Discourse is therefore not to be equated with knowledge. which generates no manifest concepts with context-free meaning. Pahl and Sparsam 2015) in order to interpret and reinterpret their own ideas and concepts (Hesse 2010). business and other institutions and aspects of the economy – is a discourse that differs from the discourse of politics and the discourse of economics. This discursive dimension will be discussed now in order to specify why this contribution is using a DPEE methodology in contrast to a mere ‘cultural’ or ‘performative’ understanding of the Political Economy. the concept of financialization deals with the way in which cognitive logics and forms of categorization and classification shape the social relations in contemporary capitalism (Leyshon and Thrift 2007). the role of contextuality. later. for instance. Hence. 2. Although feedback exist (Walter 2013). interpretation and the transformative appropriation of knowledge and symbols between markets. the term discourse refers to the rules of the social construction of knowledge in a competitive terrain of power and domination. 2008). Thus. Rather. for security studies see Herschinger 2011). Here. is the cognitive basis for the transformation of governmental institutions following the principles of neoliberal globalization. the financial market. In contrast. Erturk et al. has singular discursive rules which make price formation possible (Langenohl 2010). By following studies in accounting and critical finance (Miller 2001. a proper discursive understanding rejects any abstract meaning of culture. the economic (and political) world(s) construct their own semiotic relations (Kessler and Wilhelm 2013). the state. the contemporary state is the effect of economic knowledge. Finally. but they simultaneously highlight the independent and contingent character of discourse and hegemony (Laclau and Mouffe 2001). poststructuralist approaches point to the contingent and constructivist character of power and domination in the political economy (Glynos and Howarth 2007. the economy and economics as a cultural factor is becoming relevant only in those social worlds in which it is actually used. Economics as a science constructs metaphors (McCloskey 1998. semantics and meaning. econometrics and macroeconomics (Morgan 1990). The economy – including finance.

firm and policy discourses (Diaz-Bone and Krell 2009). Thus. (T)hey circulate from one field to another by interpretive appropriation and usage. on the other hand. Whereas this section has sketched out the cultural turn in Political Economy and the discursive specificity of it. Semantic identity vs. it has had an important impact on the design and the making of the financial market institutions as well as on the political and economic reform of neoliberalism. discourse analytical and discourse theoretical approaches can be distinguished from semiotic perspectives as current discussions on the role of culture in the political economy demonstrate. political and academic knowledge. political institutions and in public debate. discursive diversity of economic expert knowledge In the field of Cultural Political Economy. How is this non-compliant. Thereby. For example. economic knowledge from economics has a special status as a cultural resource for discursive interventions into the political and the economic world. Kessler and Wilhelm 2013) have shown that economic experts perform a legitimation and authorization function in financial markets.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 7 (see Aspers 2007). this relationship is not characterized by a semantic identity.1. knowledge from the world of experts is not simply applied to problems of the financial world (Millo and MacKenzie 2008). It can serve as a special form of ruling knowledge in markets. Nevertheless. the Cultural Political Economy methodology must be specified as a DPEE approach in two directions. other forms of cultural penetration of political-economic relations can be identified. in fact. But unlike semiotic approaches. On the one hand. studies from the banking sector (Leins 2013. they change their meaning. experts and . Therefore. the Cultural Political Economy is. Rather. they remain sceptical about a semantic universalization of the entire political-economic field. discourse analytical approaches insist in the split character of the discourse in the political-economic field (Maesse 2015c). contextual dimension. First. Discourse analytical approaches emphasize the cultural character of the political economy. this paper argues for a DPEE. counterfactual and anti-intentional discursivity possible and thinkable without ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ and rejecting the idea of a cultural reshaping of political-economic relations with categories from economics at all? In contrast to a pure semantic reshaping of the political economy. A particularly illustrative example is the case of the ‘efficient market hypothesis’ (EMH). discourse studies argue for a relationship between economics. the term discourse emphasizes the interpretive nature and contextuality of economic. For example. the next section will explain the DPEE approach as a methodology for the study of economic experts between power and discourse. concepts from the neoclassical paradigm can be used in markets as well as in political discourses. The social structures of the economy and markets are not identical with cognitive structures from economics’ knowledge. a Discursive Political Economy – and not just a semantic or a symbolic Political Economy. But. ideas and concepts from the world of economics must be translated into the world of politics and the economy. Wansleben 2013. 3. But in both cases they would lose their academic meaning and will be translated into industry. Rather. Furthermore. For this reason. their status and their role according to the social rules in the respective social worlds (Maesse 2015b). The EMH is a pure academic idea that has never worked in the markets as it was expected by their academic protagonists (MacKenzie 2006). interpretive. In this sense. business and politics. it has a discursive character because the Cultural always assumes a competitive. Second. Discourse and capital: positioning as a power strategy 3.

Yet.2. Here. bodies and gestures and. Experts ‘qualify’ a statement as ‘academic’. these processes can be understood as positioning practices (Angermuller 2013). field-specific fixed capital values are connected only in the course of the discursive positionings with the resulting social position. Therefore. Discourses as power strategies According to Bourdieu (1989). they declare themselves as part of a social status group. act as authorities. However.) with discursive positions (such as statements to economic policy topics) is also based on ascriptions by the social environment as any other interpretation in discourse as well. in expert statements. a political party or an academic discipline. the speaker guarantees as a member of an institutionalized expertise for the academic and scientific value of the performed statements. Nevertheless. . economic experts appear in media discourses as representatives of their academic discipline and can thus benefit from the academic prestige ascribed to it. Individuals and groups take a position with written and spoken language. Every discourse consists of different voices (Angermuller 2013). Rather.3. acquired prestige. in fact. with texts and words. discourses are regarded as devices which bring different forms of capital and social positions together. Thus. a tradition. Thus. Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 3. This implies a space-field-position determinism because discursive positioning practices are reduced to relationally constituted social positions. this contribution takes a discourse analytical reformulation of the capital theory in order to overcome the field-space-determinism (Hamann 2014. there is always more than just one perspective at work. Hence. In contrast to a more or less orthodox Bourdieu perspective. 3. titles. From a discourse analytical point of view. By identifying themselves as members of a group. Maesse 2015a. Discourses as positioning practises From a discourse sociological point of view. become actors in their particular social world(s). references and legitimizing instances (Seabrooke 2006). But these processes of positioning never run straightforward and monophonic. thus.e. this means that actors speak in the name of academia and perform themselves as experts of their ideas. traditions. the combination of capital (i. positioning practices are not only polyphonic. They are also embedded in a wider range of social relations. The next subsection shows how this exclusivity is constituted. for Bourdieu a discursive position derives from the position which actors obtain within the social space as well as from the capital value of the respective social field (Bourdieu 1991). 60–74). exclusivity must be associated with this particular discursive position. Polyphony is not the exception but the rule in the discursive construction of economic experts (Maesse 2015b). Accordingly. Maesse expertise. pictures and symbols. how can we come to terms with the relationship between discourse and power? When certain discursive positions – such as an ‘expert’ – are combined with a demand for power. etc. institutions and power structures. They are polyphonic by nature – be it latent and implicit or open and offensive. Positioning practices will be combined with power strategies when actors leave a discourse of equality and enter into a competitive game in order to become representatives of a privileged idea.8 J. social actors as position holders become powerful actors when these positions are combined with a certain amount of capital. the ideas that are expressed in these non-academic contexts in the name of academia are not necessarily from an academic background.

This ‘social background’ is leaving its traces in the habitus of the position holder and the social environment in which the position holders are recognized.g. etc.). in the case of economic expert discourses.).. social origin as power became almost automatically relevant to the discursive audience through the homology principle. The authority of the speaker is. Any transfer of power in discourse is always a conversion of capital. a capital analysis implies not only the study of the rules of production and distribution of capital but it also makes a study of the conversion processes of one kind of capital into other types of capital necessary. Before entering the empirical case study (Sections 4. From a discourse analytical point of view. Thus. capital has a certain authorization and legitimizing function because distinguishing indications of established positions will be ratified in the discursive process of interpretative attribution.) and political capital (political positions. The logic of economic expert discourse From the viewpoint of practical research. This combination of discursive practices and capital conversion processes will be outlined and illustrated in an example from economic expert discourse in the following section. 4. title) is being converted into forms of populist capital (public prestige. therefore.3. This place is being associated with the respective speaker in discourses. this cannot be possible. since discourses are based on interpretation and contextuality.6. 4. the place where the discursive positioning takes place appears as the place of allocation of power and authority because it makes certain aspects of the social origin relevant to the audience. takes into account the ‘social origins’ of economic experts. capital conversion processes. we will explain the social conditions of discourse and capital. It is the centrepiece of the DPEE approach. The trans-epistemic fields of economic expert discourse The analysis of the relationship between power and discourse.5. On the other hand. This ‘trace’ is typically a signature of the background such as the title. 4. in fact. Thus. Rather. this analysis of polyphonic rules must be supplemented by an analysis of the types of capital. In the orthodox field theory. the capitals that were acquired at the place of social origin must be transferred to the place where the discursive positioning practices actually happen.2. They are interpretative transformations driven by social attributions. the choice of tone and themes. and so forth. 4. 4. Bourdieu has never held these two aspects really apart from each other. By investigating economic expert discourses at the interface of economics. of course. Discursive positionings are. This will be illustrated in detail in the following section. This is the academic field because this is the place of . etc. In the case of discursive power. This is typically an analysis of the polyphonic composition of expert statements. the language. The social origin of economic experts leaves their traces in the discourses in which she/he is positioning himself/herself as an actor of a specific statement. This is the trans-epistemic field of economic expert discourse. thus.4. ministerial posts. academic capital (e. invitations. a discourse analysis of the positioning logics must be carried out. 4.. made visible by features that come from the ‘social origin’ as a particular social place.. Now.1. media appearances.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 9 In discursive power relations. the social background theory can be reformulated in terms of discursive practices.. politics and the media. a process of capital conversion connects the place of origin with the place of discursive articulation. this implies two steps: on the one hand.

Rather. the research perspective of DPEE combines neo-Marxist approaches from post-structuralism with neo-phenomenological ideas from discourse analysis (Maesse 2015a. heterogeneous arena in which different social worlds overlap and merge into each other. the specific positioning logics must be studied. business and media (Figure 1). with the neo-phenomenological discourse analysis it shares the perspective on contextuality and the interpretive nature of discursive relations. we will have a look at the specific field structure of economic expert discourse. in contrast. It is an open and split structure (Laclau 1990). Here. but apparently assumes an omnipotence of discourses and interpretations. the business world and the political world. politics. The DPEE approach is a methodological contribution to overcome the opposition between power and contextuality. which does not solely refer to the semantic level of texts. traditional Marxism. These conversion analyses combine the social origins with the positioning practices in order to show what kind of capital is converted through what kind of discourses. As a first step. it takes the focus on processes of power and conflict in a discursively split social fabric. Maesse the production of those insignia that attribute authority to the speaker’s roles in other contexts of economic expert discourse such as media. which allows and enforces various discursive positioning practices. It can rather be thought of as a process of capital conversion. furthermore.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 10 J. interactions and language. it focuses on the logic of positioning practices as a polyphonic spectacle by which the economic experts are being put in their place as actors of a particular statement in a particular social game. while power for phenomenology was only a crude form of violence. Figure 1. . While traditional phenomenology is blind to questions of social power and inequality. From the neo-Marxist post-structuralism. it analyses the capital conversions. Hence. it is a product of a trans-epistemic field between academia. The discursive constitution of economic experts is neither operating in a closed economic structure (Marx) nor in a traditional field (Bourdieu). realism and constructivism. ignores the constructivist capabilities of discursive practices. an intensive exchange takes place between the different social worlds. 71). it is not just the result of conventional face-to-face discourse in the common world of everyday life. social positions were usually just a matter of economic base and ideological superstructure. Second. The trans-epistemic field is a discursively connected. Thus. For Marxism. And third. academic world media world business world political world The trans-epistemic field of economic expert discourse.

Thus. On the other hand. a feedback from media and politics to academia can be observed. Capital and capital conversion through discursive practices This complex process of capital production and capital conversion through discursive processes can be illustrated as follows: If economic experts take a discursive position in the world of media (top right). This was produced in the academic world and can now. the demand increases for more symbolic capital from the academic world. excellence policies. in media contexts. The empirical illustration will analyse the relationship between society and the academic world as a dialectics between ‘academism’ and ‘elitism’ (see Maesse 2015c). Angermuller and Maesse 2015). As a result. It is not the particular academic knowledge and economic models that are recognized and requested by media and politics but the academic status of economists as ‘experts’.2. These legitimacy goods can be official (‘Professor’) or informal (‘leading economist’) titles and degrees. The following section gives a more detailed illustration on the relationship between the social demand for legitimacy in politics and the media (as well as the economy) and the production of ‘legitimacy goods’ in the academic world. Both are based on the production and conversion process of different types of capital. then they mobilize insignia from the academic world (topleft) by using symbolic capital. The postmodern era which is rising up creates new forms of symbolic power (Jameson 2012). This development spreads now and transforms itself from the ‘simple’ forms of cultural capital (school and university degrees) to all education-science-based credential agencies (such as measuring quality. best practice procedures. It is this status of actors – and not their problem-solving models and expertise – that gives their statements in discourses on the economic world a distinctive authority. excellence and quality certificates fill the void left by the loss of the utopian energies of Western modernity (Jameson 2012). peer review or just the award of an expert status. with the growth of the impact of economics in the media and the political world. This will be outlined in detail in the following three subsections. see detail Maesse 2015b). media reputation that has been accumulated in these positioning processes may eventually also be used in the world of political discourses (bottom-right). Thus. The dialectics itself is based on the assumption that the project of nation-state led Western modernity is no longer able to produce legitimacy for society (Habermas 1985) because the process of globalization has changed the symbolic and institutional framework of modernity. In this respect. As an example. which may confer power on those players in economic policy debates who are equipped with these insignias of academic recognition. The dialectics of academization and elitism are the background for the economic expert positions. 1981). we can mention economists such as Joseph Stiglitz who has a huge influence in policy advice as well as in media debate and in academia. be used as a power resource to receive social recognition. The resulting lag of legitimacy in society is filled by institutions of education in the wake of a general expansion of education (Vester 2004). Last but not least. experts take a position in the political world by bringing their . a need for the production of ‘legitimacy goods’ arises. The social background of this development is the increasing demand for educational credentials to legitimize social positions of power (Bourdieu et al. This feedback is a call for more symbolic capital. Lentsch and Weingart 2013. a certification industry comes up where educational titles. such as when popular economists play with their prominence in the course of policy advice.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 11 4. expert opinions. This trend is generally reflected in the emergence of a quantification and surveillance panopticon where everything is measured and counted in numbers (Power 1997.

This includes institutional as well as structural devices which frame the discursive activity of academic economists. these non-academic fields. academic reputation and political ideologies. The elitism dispositif in economics: the forces of emergence The concept of ‘elitism’ refers to a trend in the world of economics. as the whole educational system does in order to assess and legitimize power and inequality in society. This capital is circulating between the worlds of the trans-epistemic field and is thus available as a power resource in other worlds.3. The academic world. in fact. Rankings and journals First to be mentioned in this respect is the introduction of a publishing culture that is based on the quantification of scientific ‘quality’ in order to be able to assess and . 4. which originated in US economics departments in the 1970s (see Coats 1993. While the elitism in the academic world responds to the social legitimacy demand from media. plays a special role here. In order to make such positioning strategies possible in academic discourses. a general elitism dispositif must be institutionalized. capital conversion and discursive polyphony. 407–13) and then spread throughout the world of economics globally (Fourcade 2009). Each particular social world produces capital through discourses. Academism and multi-reference as positioning strategies would not work if the elitism in the academic world were not able to generate symbolic capital. politics and business firms. which is then converted into other forms of capital in other contexts (Figure 2).12 J.1. educational background into play. • multiple reference/ popular capital academic world media world business wolrd political world • academism/ political capital The relation between capital production. Elitism as a discursive practice refers to social contexts in which some economists can take a position as ‘top economist’ in the world of economic expert discourses.3. Five different forces can be identified which transformed the world of economic discourse into an elitism dispositif. Maesse Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 • elitism/symbolic capital • authorization/ economic capital Figure 2. in turn. they perform in the media world by playing simultaneously with everyday expectations. 4. consume symbolic capital from academia and convert it into their contexts according to the particular discursive rules and social needs.

3. 4.2. This development is accompanied by the assertion of a formalist. the output of journal paper grows enormously. .122 83. This development started in the 1970s and was characterized by a general trend towards English as the universal language in economics. As Table 1 shows.815 13.) 4. today one can hardly speak of a pure neoclassical ‘orthodoxy’ of the field (Colander et al. Number of citations to 1970 Papers published 1965–1969 All papers (est. 652). information economics. Stratification of research quality in terms of funding at economics departments.798 45. game theory and institutionalist economics. Given the overwhelming hegemony of critical microeconomic approaches such as behavioural economics. compare research performance. a second trend emerged which is characterized by in a hierarchical transformation of economics and a Table 2. Elite class Near-elite class Middle class Working class LSE UCL Warwick Oxford Essex Nottingham Bristol Queen Mary Cambridge Manchester Southampton Royall Holloway Exeter Kent Leicester Birkbeck Surrey Surrey Sheffield York Birmingham East Anglia Sussex City Brunel Loughborough London Metropolitan Kingston Manchester Metropolitan Source: Lee et al. Rather. Citations of economic journals. a predominance of journals instead of other publication forms and the establishment of rankings which compare and classify publications in a linguistically homogenous world. 700). (2013.018 Papers published 1985–1989 All papers 28. model-oriented understanding of the economics (Blaug 2003). Hierarchy and stratification Besides the establishment of rankings as accounting technologies. 2004).948 Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Source: Laband and Piette (1994. the model-formalism can be regarded as a ‘paradigm’ in the Kuhnian sense that has created a relatively heterogeneous and controversial academic landscape of conflict and controversy within its formalist scope.Journal of Multicultural Discourses 13 Table 1.192 Papers published 1975–1979 All papers 1980 1990 17. This was initially forwarded by the establishment of a ‘neoclassical orthodoxy’ and later accompanied by non-neoclassical and other heterodox paradigms (Pahl 2013).

but rather to generate . the Nobel Prize in economics can be obtained (Lebaron 2006). demonstrates this change. Here. which is directed to common objectives of the department as an ‘academic organization’. Mannheim. As the highest level of symbolic recognition. Particularly impressive is the change that can be observed in Oxford. there is a very low social mobility between the hierarchically segregated departments. a highly recognized department emerged with about 30 professors (including full professors and assistant professors) and 30 other researchers (listed on the website). In the course of this transformation. Maesse stratificative enculturation of the field. The introduction of graduate schools in Frankfurt. bureaucratized and managerialized research policy. Post-docs coming from the ‘elite institutions’ tend to get a job at other institutions with a high academic reputation. which is the third trend of elitism. based on an analysis of recruitment channels. Cologne. Only those economists who are academically socialized to the upper floors of the academic society will have the capabilities of publishing in top journals systematically. Here. a wide range of departments developed which hardly obtained such a high research output in high-ranked journals. In the 1980s/1990s. This encapsulation and isolation of ‘top researchers’ vis-à-vis the academic periphery and semi-periphery is also reflected in the career paths. UCL. Warwick. Goyal et al. strong differences in academic reputation came up (see Table 2 for the British case). finally. 2013). Whereas research-oriented and relatively successful economists are based in the ‘elite departments’. whereas post-docs from lower ranked departments remain in the ‘minor leagues’ of economics. What seems to develop here is a segmented class hierarchy. the old college model has been transformed in 1998 and replaced by the American department model. by the Research Excellence Assessment (REA) and later through the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Graduate training is not about a Humboldtian intellectual ‘education’ for higher symbolic purposes (Hamann 2014). a couple of strong research departments came up. Besides these departments. Graduate schools aim at a systematic vocational training of young economists. a proliferation of the elitism in the UK already took place in the late 1980s. This. Regional traditions such as the college teacher in the UK or the Humboldtian professor in Germany are substituted by new types of academic researchers. In a first step. Bonn (the former already had such a school before!) and other small universities. Departments pursue a collective. this changed completely after 1998.3.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 14 J. (2006) have shown how a cluster of citation communities and coauthorships emerged around the so-called ‘academic stars’ or ‘Big Shots’. Departmentalization as a new form of research organization This process of ‘departmentalization’.3. Oxford and Cambridge. Whereas the old College University of Oxford had just employed a handful of economists who did research and especially teaching throughout the colleges. 4. in turn. some more departments fluctuating back and forth between ‘academic elite’ and ‘second division’. such as the LSE. Now. can also be observed in the German-speaking world of economics. an enormous change in the economic research landscape took place in the course of the introduction of research performance indicators. As a result of this development. organizationalized. first. is a prerequisite for entering certain social networks to make valuable acquaintances in order to get more and more academic honours. Thus. for instance. the emergence of an academic class society can be observed (Lee et al. This development towards elitism now spreads globally. Munich. As Han (2003) has demonstrated.

in Germany and in the UK elitization processes became successful in those faculties that were equipped with at least 20 professorships. UCL.4. Here. followed by other institutions in Germany. of course. as a necessary requirement for an institution to rise up onto the top of the hierarchy. Thus. in the UK this is especially the LSE. Warwick. hierarchization and departmentalization – are covered by a fourth feature. Kiel. discourses in the academic world of economics are characterized by polyphony typical for academic discourses (Flottum 2005). all cases that can be observed in the UK. Graz. the Swiss institutes. Bonn and Frankfurt. The external sources for the elitism dispositif: the heteronomous voice and the public image of economists What is the impact of this development towards elitism for the discursive positioning practices in the academic world of economics? First. although the structural arrangements work for keeping out of competition the others coming from the academic periphery. Göttingen.4. which works. these concentrations take place primarily in Munich. Oxford. perhaps Essex. publication potent researchers. titles and positions. Austria and Switzerland.5. public funds. . In the German-speaking world. Magnification refers to the fact that a certain number of academic resources is necessary to become a department that is in a position to apply a research policy of ‘collective excellence’. Vienna. Mannheim. they learn how to communicate in an appropriate academic way and how to acquire a distinctive style of writing and argumentation. Cologne. – took place. Due to their position in elite networks. 4. etc. posts. Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 4. The young economists are not only familiar with the latest methods and the necessary know-how. academic actors are members of smaller and bigger research groups by defining themselves and others through labels and tokens in the course of their academic career (Angermuller 2013). Magnification as ‘Critical Mass’ principle These three trends – the transition to a system of model-oriented journal rankings. Cambridge and some other places.. This is the magnitude of a department: without any exception. they know what kind of research topics might be promising for a good positioning in journals.3. in the UK by the ‘Diamond list’) and the introduction of departmentalization process in the magnified institutes. ‘Excellence’ has to be practiced. Florence). finally a general concentration process of all varieties of academic capital – such as external funding. and the German-speaking world of economics show that elitism is based on a critical mass of the departmentalized departments. and they can be regarded as a new ‘academic middle class’ that aims ‘upwards’ to rise to the ‘elite’ institutions or they are ‘captured’ by the upper class as part of a relocation or expansion strategy of the huge institutions (perhaps Essex. Both. Exceptions to this rule exist. 75–114). in fact. a dense network is designed consisting of different vocational levels to be climbed step by step (in detail Maesse 2015a. etc. For this purpose. Concentration of academic capital After the implementation of rankings (in Germany with the ‘Handelsblatt ranking’.3.Journal of Multicultural Discourses 15 ‘publication cadres’ who systematically publish in top journals. such as Zurich. They also get in contact with established researches and other colleagues. 4.

4.4. it is important to achieve a high output regularly. This pressure transforms the anarchy of academic tribes and epistemic cultures into a structured organization for the production of ‘export articles’. this contribution argues that the special relations which economics maintains to the rest of society have an impact on the internal developments of economics towards the elitism dispositive. than an external explanation for the elitism dispositive may be applied. ‘Academic Excellence’ as cult and ritual At the same time. Lebaron 2001a. Thus. Through this procedure. How can this be explained? 4. since its full institutionalization at the end of the nineteenth century (Breslau 2003) and. It produces a product that is primarily not intended for the inner circle of academic knowledge production. 2008. In this respect. ‘Academic Excellence’ as an export article If no plausible factors from the inner academic world can be determined in order to explain this feature of economics. and not the internal differentiation dynamics. next to a horizontal categorisation also a vertical assessment of academic work becomes important in the field. As a look on different countries suggest (see Coats 1993. First. Moreover. The ‘foreign relations’ of economics are important.2. Here. Fourcade 2009. In economics. Maesse 4. but . in contrast. the elitism dispositive constitutes an ‘elite and excellence cult’.1. second. it is not important whether or not researchers are able to publish in an A-journal from time to time. the academic voice of the ‘stars’. Hence. Moreover. This close trans-epistemic link of the academic world to the world of media. politics and the economy creates a pressure on the academic field. Lee et al. an ‘academic elite’ is generated by the hierarchical system of rankings and journals where membership can be measured and counted. a ‘cult of excellence’ is generated. Maesse 2015a. In general.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 16 J. departmentalization. it is obvious that the hierarchization process in economics hardly meets resistance. It proceeds from country to country throughout the world. This cult puts some participants in the academic world under pressure to produce symbolic capital that works as a credential and an evidence of the exceptional nature of a particular scientific point of view. c). Economics is an academic discipline that was already very close to the requirements of the state. This would be unthinkable in many other disciplines from the social sciences and humanities. For about 40 years. which is not tied to a particular individual. Economics is not restricted to an ‘academic field’ (Bourdieu 1988) in the narrow sense. today as a device for the production of ‘legitimacy goods’ (Maesse 2015c). certain research products will be regarded and ‘awarded’ as ‘excellent’ in contrast to others. to understand the particularities of economics we have to take into account the special socio-discursive form in which economics is embedded as an expert discourse. this trend towards elitism can obviously not be delayed. but is firmly institutionalized and fixed in the field and maintained by the elitism dispositif consisting of hierarchization. concentration. magnification and evaluation. 2013. the academic world of economics on a global scale tends towards hierarchy and elitism. This yields to a publication strategy which always goes for ‘top journals’. ‘big shots’ and ‘elite economists’ in the discourse of academic economics is a heteronomous voice. Here. Now. however. there seems to be an intra-scientific consensus on certain aspects of the discipline of economics that took other disciplines into internal horizontal differentiation in a hermeneutic/qualitative/‘humanistic’ and a positivist/quantitative/ ‘scientific’ camp (Abbott 2000). those differentiations take a different form. Rather. it is part of a trans-epistemic world of economic expert discourse. However.

It is. Instead. they were first and foremost ‘populists’ because they had a feeling for the ‘popular taste’. ‘scientific clarity voice’ is fundamental for the identity of economics.5. ‘consumption’ or (increasingly rare) issues of ‘social inequality’. Economics is constituted by two voices which work as forces. Multiple reference in the media: the production of popular capital through polyphony Economists are permanent members of the political discourse in the media. on the one hand. In this role. they knew how to serve the political emotions of their time. and between economic experts and experts from other disciplines – for instance. the discursive voice reaches beyond this small world since it is controlled. Even the great economists of the Keynesian period from the 1940s to the 1970s such as John M. economics committed under the control of the elitism dispositif is less a science for the pursuit of empirical research.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 17 rather for their public image.e. All of them were not only highly respected economist and prominent political consultants. In contrast. However. for example. In these contexts. But today’s media scene is not missing prominent economists. models and methods. When ‘academic stars’ or ‘big shots’ take a position in their academic contexts. such as Paul Krugman. then.5. Despite some parallels and overlaps between the media economists of the past and the present. by the demand for external power and legitimacy. According to its own image. Mario Draghi or Joseph Stiglitz. They have an important impact on the political debate and public opinion since the foundation and institutionalization of economic experts’ councils from the mid-twentieth century in all Western countries (Hall 1989). This split voice creates symbolic capital. 4. this polyphonic structure culminates in the elitism dispositif as a double membership of economics: to the state with its practical challenges and to academia with its pure and artificial knowledge. contemporary media economists are characterized by some special features (in detail Maesse 2012). a profession for the construction of efficient markets. Economists as ‘Universal Intellectuals’ First. experts from other disciplines are generally considered as experts in their respective expert area. the pure principle of power by recognition. from the social sciences – on the other hand. school or university issues. i. furthermore. it will be converted into new forms of capital and used by other discursive practices. Keynes or Milton Friedman were famous for their public polemics and political commentaries (Fourcade 2009). this relationship of academic discourse to society in the fields of media and politics will be analysed. which can now be transferred into other contexts of society. they are not primarily talking about the narrow academic world. The combination of the ‘normative’. ‘social mission voice’ with the ‘positive’. 4. indirectly. the political emotions of the public sphere. one is the public image that speaks in favour of its ‘social mission’. talk about their specific educational expertise: early childhood education.1. They are discursively constructed as ‘specific intellectuals’ (Foucault) or rather ‘special intellectuals’ because they relate to their specialist area. Sociologists are also mainly conceived as specialists of particular areas like ‘youth’. the other voice is its academic conscience that pleas emphatically for ‘pure science’. In the remaining two sections. It is the voice of the other of academia which gives economics as a discipline itself a particular form of identity. economists in the media seem to feel competent to take a . their theories. Furthermore. Experts on education.

media consumers do not need to know or even understand the economic theory behind those phrases in order to construct a meaningful utterance of it. political and business reality more and more due to the neoliberal drift in the 1970s. Furthermore. expert discourses play with a second discursive register: namely the academic world itself where other economic experts critically evaluate the academic meaning of economic expert utterances. However. Maesse 2012). media agency and academic discipline has reached a relatively stable level of institutionalization (Coats 1993). Economic expert statements should meet basic standards of scientific clarity even if they are prepared for media purposes. 4. a handful of economists in academia and politics could cover different fields of expertise.2. As a member of an academic group performing in the media she/he mobilizes prestige which is . the discourse is mobilizing ‘moral capital’ in the form of social norms and values. economic experts can perhaps be called the ‘universal intellectuals of globalization’. While at the time of John Maynard Keynes. Today. however. academic validity and political conflict What does this imply for the discursive construction of economic experts in the media? According to research on economists in media (Mercille 2014.5.18 J. This rhetoric alludes to the common knowledge and the ‘public moral’ of the people. Economists play at three discursive registers: public values. Media economists are embedded in widespread and strong networks and organizations. Maesse Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 position on almost all aspects of social life. political and academic issues and problems fall apart because they are parts of highly differentiated fields of expertise.5. economists are ‘specific intellectuals’ in the sense that we never live in a world fully determined by economic issues. The functional division of labour within economics as a profession.3. Of course. At the same time. Successful media economists are backed by networks and apparatuses of researchers from different expert fields. In this sense. Economists as ‘Complex Actors’ The contemporary media economists such as Joseph Stiglitz differ from their predecessors mainly by the fact that success in academic research and success in the field of economic policy can hardly be provided by a single person today. 4. Leyshon and Thrift 2007). Each economic expert is also a representative of the entire academic community. they present themselves discursively as ‘universal intellectuals’ in a society that is affected more and more by economic globalization. economists can play with the semiotic ambiguity and the implied moral reference of such statements. the hegemonic economic categories determine the general social perception of the social. O’Rourke and Hogan 2013. In this respect. They not only talk about ‘economic issues’ but also on social values and habits as well as on general political questions. Today. In phrases like ‘We must save money’ or ‘We need a strong and stable monetary union’. a trend that has been studied in detail by the financialization studies as well (Epstein 2005. Through these techniques. As ‘universal intellectuals’ they use a common sense rhetoric. thousands of researchers in politics as well as in academia form discursive communities of specialists. The economic policy apparatus is now based on a scientific community that works not more in personal union with the academic world. economic experts communicate to three different social groups through three communicative channels simultaneously. This is the discursive-ideological background for the universalism effect of economics.

The academization of political advice: the production of political capital through authorization As we have outlined above. in the academic world by mobilizing symbolic capital from the elitism cult and in the political world by recruiting political and ideological capital. Fourcade 2006) with a strong regulatory commission were established. the different ways how media economists acquire the labels from elite departments can be studied. Now. implies not only particular moral attitudes and academic stances.6. Media experts keep and incorporate the insignia of elitism in their discourses. a regulated banking system (Ziegler 2005) and a comprehensive system of central banks (Galbraith 1990. The economist is a populist when she/he combines popularity with political positioning and academic seriousness. Specifically. Last but not least. However. At the same time. Here. for example. They are marked by the ‘signatures of excellence’. In particular. This complex socio-discursive scenario can be called ‘multiple reference’ since it is a play with several contexts at the same time. This can be named ‘populist capital’. the academic colleagues of media economist take care that this prestige will not be destroyed through an abuse of economic theory in the media. media experts are not always personally and fully involved in academic research on the top level. Morgan 1990. the elitism cult enters into the game. Breslau 2003). Since symbolic capital must be produced in a very elaborate and complex process at universities. it is rather necessary to display and perform membership to academic elitism somehow and keep ‘in touch’ symbolically with ‘excellent research’. Media experts speak with three different voices simultaneously. second. Here. it will be connected to ideological and political debates to which it refers implicitly or explicitly. institution (such as the Central Bank). For instance. the scientific apparatus of economic governance was established through three developments: first. The current form of impact of economists onto this world can be termed ‘academism’. Thus. The academization of the world of politics is a phenomenon with a special history (Desrosières 1998. the foundation of economic research institutes at the beginning of the twentieth century. Only when all three registers are addressed. a particular sort of power can be generated through the economic expert media discourse. this can be expressed and presented to the public by the membership to a specific university (such as the London School of Economics). especially in economic policy starts with the beginning of professional empirical economic research in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. an economic expert utterance intervenes and communicates into three different social contexts of the trans-epistemic field: in the everyday world and public sphere by bringing moral capital into play. the proliferation of statistical offices in the nineteenth century. The discourse takes a position on parties in the government and the opposition and it refers to political ideas of lobby groups and other political stakeholders. To plea for ‘saving’ or ‘stability’. media economist are closely connected to the political world. Such a statement enters into the political field of conflict as well. and the development of econometrics and economics as a model-based science and professional analysis of the economy after the Second World War (see Desrosières 1998. a network (the CEPS network) or just through the title (Professor of Economics). The beginning of the scientific advice of the state. the economic expert statement is confronted with a third register: the political field of conflict. 4. Hall 1989).Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 19 used as symbolic capital. This was paralleled by the foundation of expert councils .

Maesse and planning commissions. In contrast to the 1940s and the years after the Second World War. econometrics. in the 1980s and 1990s. a new trend emerged. 4. Thus. They have been reformulated with the so-called micro-foundation of macro-economic categories. statistics. The modern nation-state was completed with the institutionalization of an apparatus for economic governmentality as a result and effect of the incorporation of economic scientific capital into the state. After the first phase of the constitution and a second phase of transformation of economic management apparatus. Academization as credentialization This academization process can be studied in the case of the economic research institutes in Germany in the 1990s. the age of academism refers to a situation where scientific capital (theories. The neoliberal turn helped the neoclassical price theory to a breakthrough in the field of economic policy. data of all kinds. The economics knowledge was now fully established and economic expert knowledge could be used as an instrument for state intervention and political conflict. They became extended and transformed through expectation theory and rationalist models of behaviour (homo oeconomicus). The so-called oil crisis and the supposed impossibility to manage the economy was.2. Hence. in the course of foundation (early to mid-twentieth century) and expansion and professionalization (from 1940 onwards) of economic expert knowledge as well as with the extension and deepening of it with micro-economic categories (starting at about 1970). Macroeconomic aggregates were never abolished.6. From then on. in fact. Yet. the tools lose their discursive specificity in power struggles. applied and modified depending on the political and ideological orientation because of the democratization of economic expertise. the political establishment and the state began to mobilize scientific expertise and developed expert knowledge in economic expert institutions in order to manage the economy (Hall 1989). This is the reason why economic expertise as scientific capital has been replaced by academic capital since the former is no longer important as a resource for power struggle in the global political economy. Yet. when the institutes were requested to prove the ‘academic quality’ of their (previously government-related and relatively non-academic) research (see detail Maesse 2015b). Economics as scientific capital and academic capital This changed in the 1970s and 1980s. an academization process started.20 J. etc. when everybody has access to the same tools and can use them for contrary purposes. It happened in the 1960s in benefit for the working class and from the 1970s onwards in support for the capitalist class. From this moment on it is important to mobilize the speaker with the highest academic degrees as proponents for a specific expertise in order to serve particular political purposes and strategic aims. Macroeconomic tools can easily be used to strengthen and weaken. a political crisis of the Keynesian macro-economic paradigm. then. Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 4. economic expertise was mobilized and institutionalized as scientific capital (Maesse 2015b). support and control particular social groups and classes. Economic tools are available for everybody and can be used.1. The content of economic policy advice became less important . following the model of the US council of economic advice and Soviet planning boards (Pechman 1989).6.) is fully established in the governmental institutions. in the crisis even more economic expert knowledge was mobilized instead of less economic expertise. models.

on the other hand. It is rather circulating throughout the heterogeneous terrain of a cultural political economy of discourse and power. Therefore.). today the Ph. What does this imply for the economic policy discourse? The specific practical and problem-solving knowledge becomes less important. which is. offices in commissions etc. Here. economic expert discourses convert academic capital into political capital (prestige. Now. economic experts mobilize symbolic capital from the academic world in the course of their discursive performance in order to improve the impact on and within the political conflict.) replaces scientific capital (knowledge about models. economists are split persons and hybrid figures. Here. the signatures of ‘academic excellence’ become increasingly important for the positioning practises in economic expert discourse not only in the media but also in policy advice. In these processes. the discursive voice of economic experts in the political discourse has a dual structure: on the one hand ‘speaks’ the economist as a discursive figure on behalf of a political-ideological camp. Whereas economists in the 1950s and 1960s at the economic research institutes have dealt with the economic state apparatus. giving advise to politicians. for instance. administrative positions. etc. regardless of the practical applicability of the economic models. Governmental agencies can recruit this sort of knowledge especially internally via their own experts and only occasionally make use of external expertise. techniques. Lebaron 2006). etc. Economic experts not only emphasize economic and political ideas in discursive positioning practises on economic policy debate. This academization process takes place in different economic expert institutions such as Central Banks. it is no longer enough to be established in the power structure of the political debate in order to have influence. Labels for ‘research excellence’ which construct ‘star economists’ replace the practical usefulness of an economic policy measure. 5. experts refer directly or indirectly in economic policy debates to their academic prestige in order to take a powerful position and to extend and improve their impact on political debate. Now. constructed through discourses of power at the interface of a trans-epistemic field. The transepistemic field of economic expert discourse is a strategic arena where positioning practices in one field presuppose positionings in other fields because positionings are. generally speaking.D. The ECB and the Fed. a model published in a top journal seems to be more prestigious than a model that can solve social problems. are recruiting a considerable amount of academically accredited economists who are trained to publish in top journals (Fourcade 2009. academic capital (titles. methods. Rather. Today. she/he becomes visible as a representative of his academic group. students and young researchers are concerned about how to publish in prestigious journals. They also enforce the insignia of an apparatus for academic credentialization and certification. To put it bluntly. academic capital must come into play to take a strong position and to create power in the political game.). no economic research institute has a chance for recognition and public funding. credentials. Conclusion Economic expert knowledge is not limited to a single social field. This positioning logic can be described by the term ‘academism’ (see Maesse 2015b).Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 Journal of Multicultural Discourses 21 compared to the academic reputation of the proponents of a particular economic idea. references. Economists are not actors with one professional identity and one clearly defined social role. which is unable to prove their ‘research quality’ in terms of academic competition. . In contrast. independent of a particular political camp. However.

This discursive interdependence can be analysed as a capital circulation process: economic experts in the media are related to academic discourses while economists in economic policy advice mobilize academic prestige as well as populist capital from media discourse. and. the DPEE approach is a methodology that works out the different voices in economic expert discourse. for instance. Kessler and Wilhelm 2013. apply different discursive power strategies in changing situations and circumstances. further research requires more and detailed inquiry into elitization and academization processes in different national contexts. first. in turn. in contrast to knowledge-based methodologies (Keller 2010). It is rather constructed to get be used by other discourses. Economists as split beings are always involved in processes of discursive positioning and capital transformation. to be transformed in different sorts of capital and to be invested in new contexts. Similarly. . This paper has sketched out the general trends and characteristics of economic expert discourse. the different social contexts of the trans-epistemic field of economic expert discourse are connected to each other by different forms of polyphony and capital conversions. against holistic approaches (Shi-xu 2014). Wansleben 2013. economics in the Asian. politics and academia in different regional and cultural contexts. To understand how economic expert discourses operate in a trans-epistemic field. the DPEE is critical in so far as it uncovers the hidden power strategies beyond the surface of pure communication. Therefore. In the media world the multiple referential triad operates as a discursive production technique and in politicaladministrative discourse academic prestige becomes more and more important. politics and in the economy. From the DPEE viewpoint. is consumed by their colleagues in the world of media. It produces symbolic capital because the discursive practices are also under the heteronomous pressures of the non-academic world. Schmidt-Wellenburg 2013). However. in turn. From a DPEE perspective. and compared to phenomenological approaches in discourse analysis (Potter 2012). economists in the media world. capital cannot be saved and stored.Downloaded by [Jens Maesse] at 06:40 07 August 2015 22 J. elitism and academism is one way how Western globalized societies compensate the legitimacy deficits determined by the crisis of the project of nation-state modernity. Compared to other discourse analytical approaches (Wodak and Meyer 2001). Thus. African and South American countries has to respond to these global trends with respect to their particular contexts as well. Maesse simultaneously.and macro-levels of society. second. It can now be taken as a point of departure for more and detailed empirical case studies on economic expert discourse in media. perform an elitism and excellence cult which is a prerequisite to produce academic capital as a symbolic ‘export article’. the DPEE is focusing on the polyphonic aspect of discursive practices. This. the DPEE is studying power and discourse between micro. DPEE is focusing on the particularity and contextuality of discourse and power. Whereas the European countries seem to follow the elitization and academization pathway according to their own institutional trajectories. Economists from academia. firms. Further research should be done on the particular strategies of economists within these contexts. consuming and transforming practices. capital producing. to make discursive practices visible as power strategies in a heterogeneous world of social relations (Maesse 2015a). The world of business and firms follows a similar logic (Leins 2013. we need a discourse analytical methodology that is able. The elitism dispositif – which is at the centre of economic expert discourse in the current historical period – is not a functionalist reality but a positioning logic of the academic world in economics. to analyse discourses as positioning practices (Angermuller 2013).

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