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2016 | 37 | 114-152
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Economic Imperialism

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One of the salient trends in the social sciences in recent years has been economics' colonialism of other social sciences. At the outset of the present article a widespread thesis considering economics to be the "queen" of all social sciences is presented and some epistemic reasons cited on its behalf critically evaluated. The bulk of the body of the paper is devoted to an in-depth analysis of two influential theories epitomising the aformentioned paradigm: George C. Homan' theory of social exchange was the precursor to most now current rational choice approaches. To an even grater extent, the tendency toward transferring concepts and laws of economics onto the various non-economic areas of social life has been from the very outset present in the theory of economic behaviour developed by the Nobel winner, Gary Becker. Both above-mentioned approaches are grounded in the notion of economic man, which prompts a more comprehensive examination of this concept of rational utility maximiser being postulated as the underlying foundation for not only economics but also for other social sciences. The upshot of that analysis is not encouraging; neither of the components to to the notion of homo economicus can withstand critical scrutiny. More broadly, the same refers to the entire idea of economics as purportedly core or root social science from which all others should be derived or at least borrow their concepts, propositions and approaches. In the light of our critical analysis, economic or economics imperialism should be discarded once for all.
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  • Chair of History of Sociology, Department of Sociology of Social Differentiation, Faculty of Social Sciences, Adam Mickiewicz University, Wieniawskiego 1, Poznań, Poland
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