Economics, Identity, Norms

I have recently started taking quite seriously the need for economics to widen its scope away from the study of models that make individuals appear as autistic automata. This has meant that I am reading a lot of stuff and writing too little, for the time being only, I hope. This site is included in this slump. However, I do not feel totally unproductive. It is a bit of a challenge to think outside of the mathematics-encrusted box and I do still teach highly technical courses to my students. Being productive means at the moment to engage with this new world view even though it forces me to think in unfamiliar ways, which has its cost. But enough about me! Let me now send you to a great review of Akerlof and Kranton’s recent little book on identity and economics by Tom Slee (hat tip to Brad DeLong for sending me to this review). I like Slee’s slant a lot: equilibrium is something we should not abandon too readily in our dissatisfaction with the track record of game theory so far. Watch this space for more comments by yours truly on economics and mechanisms when norms, identities, trust, reciprocity, and generally social interactions, come into play in the economist’s schoolyard.