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Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian Paperback – September 7, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Clear, comprehensive, and brimming with provocative insights, this new book by Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick's book is a much-needed presentation of the three theories -- neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxist -- that make up the contested terrain of contemporary economics. There is simply no other text that brings together the material assembled here. Throughout, the authors are sensitive to the causes and consequences of theoretical differences and demonstrate -- to teachers and students of economics, and to everyone else who wants to learn about economic debates in the world today -- that economic theories really do matter."--David F. Ruccio, Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame



"At a time when the world is in an economic tailspin, confusion over the 'dismal science' has never been more pronounced. By carefully describing neo-classical microeconomics and Keynesian macro-economics, and by juxtaposing both to Marxian economic theory, Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick provide an essential guide for building a more just future."--David Fasenfest, Wayne State University; editor, Critical Sociology



"Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick treat their readers as adults who can, and in fact must, choose among theories, rather than as children who need to be spoon-fed the truth. Their clear and creative presentation of the different entry points, logics and conclusions of neoclassical, Keynesian and Marxian theories makes this by far the best comparative treatment of economics available today. Readers will have a grasp of the history of these theories as well as the latest developments in them, and will see how theories change in mutual interaction with changes in the economy. Which theory we choose to follow matters profoundly. Contending Economic Theories gives students the tools to choose for themselves. " --Richard McIntyre, University Honors Program Director, Professor of Economics, University of Rhode Island

About the Author

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School, New York. Wolff and Resnick are the authors of Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical.

Stephen A. Resnick was Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262517833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262517836
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Hans G. Despain on September 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Wolff and Resnick are well known and widely acclaimed for their 1987 book "Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical published by John Hopkins University Press. The current book under review, "Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian" published by MIT Press, is an extension of their previous book. The importance of "Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" was that it offered an impressive introduction and intermediate level presentation to both neoclassical microeconomics and Marxian economics. To this day chapter 3 of "Economics: Marxian and Neoclassical" and chapter 4 of "Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian" are among the best introductory/intermediate presentations of Marxian economics. (Other competitors include Ernest Mandel's two volume book, "Marx's Economic Theory" Marx Economic Theory, Paul Sweezy's The Theory of Capitalist Development The Theory of Capitalist Development: Principles of Marxian Political Economy, John Weeks' "Capital and Exploitation" Capital, Exploitation and Economic Crisis (Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy), Meghnad Desai's "Marxian Economics" ...Read more ›
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CB on March 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a really good introductory primer on the three competing economic theories: neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian. Although Wolff and Resnick are Marxists - of the Althusserian variety - they do an impeccable job of being completely neutral and unbiased in their assessment of the aforementioned theories. However, they do spend the majority of the book explaining the Marxian view. And, they make sure the Marxian view can be sustained in the 21st century, by adapting issues of corporate structure, state taxes, monopoly firms, etc., into the paradigm of Marxian analysis (issues Marx either was reticent on, or wrote little about). Thus, this is a good book for the Marxist who wants to bring their understanding of Das Kapital into the 21st century. Also, W&R's explication of overdetermination is fantastic. They are able to present the theory in crystal clear terminology, something Althusser failed to do.

I do have a few minor quibbles with the book, but nothing serious. First, the authors do assume the reader has taken several economic courses, thus this isn't an introduction for all layman. The graphs used in the Neoclassical and Keynesian sections are sometimes confusing, and not enough time is spent introducing the reader as to how to read these graphs. Also, W&R hop right over serious issues regarding the Marxian theory of abstract and concrete labor, and they gloss over socially necessary labor time a bit too quickly. These are concepts that could have used further explanation. Having read lots of Marx I was comfortable skimming past them, but I can safely say had this been my first time reading about them, I would have been left in the dark.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob in New Mexico on May 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's good to leave the scary propaganda behind and see the three primary economic theories discuss side by side. All have flaws; all have good points; and all are theories. It's not a science.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By merjet on December 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The book is a comparative and mostly clear presentation of three economic theories, or four counting late neoclassical. Despite the authors' posturing of a neutral comparison of the contending theories -- a noble aim -- there is a clear bias towards Marxism. A bit of searching, like Wikipedia and an article 'Anti-Slavery and Anti-Capitalism' available online, confirms they are Marxist. They are knowledgeable about the other theories, but their selection of what to include in the book seems "overdetermined."

Much space is devoted to Marxist economics, which consists mostly of criticism of capitalism. It is weak on criticisms by neoclassical economists of the essentials of Marxist economics -- the labor theory of value, surplus value and the exploitation theory. It relegates Böhm-Bawerk's criticisms of the labor theory of value to an appendix, and omits Menger's. It neglects most of the neoclassical (mainly Austrian) theory of capital and the attendant risk. It is weak on the role of the knowledge (and ignorance) of individual economic actors, both private actors and public officials. It includes Herbert Simon's "bounded rationality" but not F. A. Hayek (he is mentioned once) on knowledge (and ignorance). It omits the principle of comparative advantage. It doesn't include a neoclassical (nor Marxist) theory of money and credit. It omits Milton Friedman's diagnosis of the Great Depression, which focuses on the government-made Federal Reserve System. Including them would have made a better book. Agreeing with them is not the point; a neutral comparison is.

They present some traditional Marxist economics and some of their own with the "entry point" of class analysis/structure and "overdetermination".
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