Soc2Econ: hillarious, if a little mean.

There’s a parody blog out there called Soc2Econ. At least, I think it’s a parody. Mostly, however, that’s the fact that April 1 is the date on all but one of the posts. I do hope it continues beyond its April Fools genesis. It’s sufficiently good at capturing a lot of trends that sociologists unfortunately display that it’s a little too believable.

It’s supposed to be sociologists criticizing economics (like Left2Right), but, well, hehehe. An example:

The contemporary economist educated in the traditional disembodied version of “theory” might argue that Ricardo was simply wrong as living standards in industrialized countries are several orders of magnitude greater than those enjoyed in the late 18th century. Such a “refutation” not only shows a lack of respect for their ancestor, but a poverty of imagination about the meaning of “subsistence,” as can be seen by synthesizing several recent findings in economics. Sociologically minded economists like Robert Franks have recently noted the importance of relative deprivation where we assess our prosperity not absolutely but relative to the consumption of our peers. This includes not only obvious Veblen goods like $5000 watches and $200,000 cars, but also such things as housing and can potentially be extended to include nearly all goods. This line of research shows that even if we have an ever increasing level of goods, we still have a flat level of utility and it is bunkum to say that we have achieved a standard of living exceeding subsistence. This is reflected in “Baumol’s disease” or the tendency of so-called “real” wages to continue to rise even in industries with stagnating productivity — a phenomenon best explained by the need to provide subsistence level wages to labor along with a changing “real” definition of subsistence. Furthermore, an ever increasing proportion of American total compensation is devoted to health care, which quite literally is the cost of keeping labor in production. Viewed in this light a neo-Ricardian approach to economics can prove that in terms of utility, if not in terms of goods and services purchasing parity, wages have in fact tended to subsistence in the long run. This is only an example of the kind of devastating insight that economists could reach if they would only approach problems by viewing findings through the lens of foundational theory. While economists are able to measure things like rising health care costs and relative deprivation, their ahistorical vulgar empiricism prevents them from understanding what they mean. In contrast thanks to our educations in classical theory, sociologists can see the big picture by situating any finding within a Durkheimian, Weberian, or Marxist paradigm.

For the law professors in the room, pay special attention to this one.

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5 Responses to “Soc2Econ: hillarious, if a little mean.”

  1. eric Says:

    Best opening to a hypothetical ever: “If someone was raised by wolves and upon reaching human civilization were given a copy of American Sociological Review, …”

  2. maybe Says:

    This is a parody.

    See the planning post here:

    http://scatter.wordpress.com/2008/02/03/soc2econ/

  3. x. trapnel Says:

    Eh. In my experience, economists *really do* need to be hit on the head with some sociology. I’m not a big fan of at least two of the 3, but I’ll take M-W-D over Arrow-Debreu if we have to pick paradigms to fit things into…

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    But, of course, picking paradigms to fit things into is a big problem with sociological practice. It doesn’t count as research to write 20 pages about how Foucault applies to random thing X [because Foucault can be read to apply to anything, but let's not mention that].

  5. x. trapnel Says:

    Maybe it’s just that I’ve gone through the disciplinary initiation process w/ econ, but had the advantage of picking and choosing my exposure to sociology. Regardless, it’s undeniable that soc. is less methodologically unified. Does it count as research to write 20 pages about how RCT applies to random thing X?

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