Consensus, polarization, and alignment in the economics profession

Tod S. Van Gunten, John Levi Martin, Misha Teplitsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Scholars interested in the political influence of the economics profession debate whether the discipline is unified by policy consensus or divided among competing schools or factions. We address this question by reanalyzing a unique recent survey of elite economists. We present a theoretical framework based on a formal sociological approach to the structure of belief systems and propose alignment, rather than consensus or polarization, as a model for the structure of belief in the economics profession. Moreover, we argue that social clustering in a heterogeneous network topology is a better model for disciplinary social structure than discrete factionalization. Results show that there is a robust latent ideological dimension related to economists’ departmental affiliations and political partisanship. Furthermore, we show that economists closer to one another in informal social networks also share more similar ideologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028-1052
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Science
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • profession
  • polarization
  • sociology of economics
  • ideology
  • networks


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