The socioculturalist agenda in economics: Critical remarks of Thorstein Veblen's legacy

Elias L. Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The article identifies a cluster of heterodox economists, especially followers of Thorstein Veblen, who are critical of the neoclassical axiom of well-defined preferences. They generally have a problem with the reductionist reasoning that preferences of agents are constituted prior to social interaction. Some of them are proposing somewhat well-defined preferences deduced instead from the tastes of the reference groups with whom the agent identifies. The article does not question the relevance, with respect to economics, of the preferences of groups. Rather, it challenges a muscular view of such preferences which is being uncritically borrowed, inter alia, from functionalist sociology and substantivist economic anthropology. Sociologists and anthropologists in general have recently become, from diverse perspectives, critical of the conception of sociocultural tastes as hegemonic. The basic thrust of the article is that the socioculturalist agenda broadly subscribes to a biological/social dichotomy which neglects that tastes also arise from psychobiological developmental processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-569
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

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