Three Essays at the Intersection of Social Theory and Political Economy
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This study revisits classic questions of political economy through an interdisciplinary lens, wedding the insights of modern social theory with heterodox political economy. The first chapter synthesizes the economic and sociological literature on wage determination, developing a conceptual apparatus, which is better situated than previous approaches, to understand the factors animating stagnating wages in the United States since the emergence of Neoliberalism. The second chapter applies reflexivity, a method in the sociology of science, to the Phillips curve. In doing so, the implicit biases within both theoretical and empirical approaches to the Phillips curve are elucidated, recognizing the limitations of traditional labor underutilization measures. Alternative labor underutilization measures are constructed using labor market transition rates, which are then used to estimate alternative econometric specifications of the Phillips curve. The results of these estimations are consistent with a flattening of the Phillips curve, expected as a result of declining institutional bargaining power of workers. The chapter finishes highlighting the limitations of the models estimated, commentating on how the literature should approach the Phillips curve going forward. The final chapter, uses path-dependency as a conceptual entry point to problematize the instrumental-ceremonial dichotomy, arguing that ceremonial institutions (culture) must be comprehensively considered in theorizing progressive institutional change, moving beyond an understanding of them as purely “imbecile”. A theory of political mobilization for progressive institutional change is laid out, one which systematically accounts for ceremonial institutions. By using rhetoric as a tool, we can play into ceremonial habits of thought, weaving progressive policy through the ceremonial net to implementation, where its instrumentality can be revealed, and a lock-in can form as constituents become accustomed to the material benefits provided. It is here where a progressive path-dependency is formed.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Revisiting theories of wage determination in the Neoliberal era -- Alternative measures of labor underutilization and the Doxic Phillips Curve -- Progressive path-dependency?
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)