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The Poverty of ClioResurrecting Economic History$
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Francesco Boldizzoni

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144009

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144009.001.0001

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The Fanciful World of Clio

The Fanciful World of Clio

(p.54) Chapter 3 The Fanciful World of Clio
The Poverty of Clio

Francesco Boldizzoni

Princeton University Press

Cliometrics has evolved into a literary genre having little to do with numbers in the sense of econometric testing, though a lot to do with the deductive stance of the new institutional economics and of rational choice theory. At times these two approaches, which are not completely compatible, coexist even in the same author's work, giving rise to a sort of analytic schizophrenia. This chapter analyzes the recent developments in economic history. From the standpoint of methodology, it shows the confusion between history and path dependence or presence of “multiple equilibria” in a predetermined deductive schema. It argues that underlying these trends is an ideological slant, whether conscious or unconscious, aimed at exalting values such as individualism and materialism, which are typical of certain segments of contemporary Western society, and at projecting them unduly onto the past.

Keywords:   economic theory, cliometrics, economic history, individualism, materialism

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