Economists have traditionally studied aggregate behavior as the outcome of individual decisions made interactively, while sociologists have focused on the role of social influences on individual behavior. Over the past decade, however, the barriers between the disciplines have broken down, resulting in the new area of social economics. Social economics is based on the assumption that individuals are directly influenced by the choices and characteristics of others, creating a feedback loop from the past choices of some people to the current social context and hence future choices of others. The essays in this book, by some of the creators of the field, provide an overview of social economics and represent a variety of approaches, including theoretical model-building, empirical studies, statistical analyses, and philosophical reflections.
Steven N. Durlauf is Kenneth J. Arrow Professor Professor of Economics at the University of Wisconsin and former Director of the Economics Program of the Sante Fe Institute. H. Peyton Young is the James Meade Professor of Economics, University of Oxford; the Scott and Barbara Black Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Johns Hopkins University; and Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. Christopher Ansell is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.