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Learning to be sociable: the evolution of homo economicus
Ng, Irene C. L.
University of Exeter
American Journal of Economics and Sociology
This article studies the evolution of the economic man (Homo economicus) from its original conception until the current day. By analyzing the discourse of economic articles, we provide a chronological account of the economic man's intellectual and philosophical development as it evolved from what we term the philosophical age to the neoclassical age and finally to the strategic age. The article then shows how the economic man in the strategic age is slowly finding convergence with the sociological man (Homo sociologicus). A reconciliation of the two sapiens is difficult. However, recent papers on behavioral and experimental economics provide insights into a possible reconciliation. Our study argues that the purpose of the sociological man is to identify who he is, how he interacts with people within a society, and the antecedents to such behaviors. Homo economicus, however, has no overarching philosophical assumptions on what he values. The objectives of each discipline are different and, once one is mapped onto the other, it is unclear if there is truly any tension between them.
“This is a pre-print of an article published in American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 67 (2), pp 265 - 286". Author's draft
American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 67 (2), pp 265 - 286