Schumpeter: A Biography.Ever since Joseph Schumpeter's death in January 1950 it has been remarked that he left no school. By now, however, there is an International Schumpeter Society, encouraging and publishing research in the tradition of Schumpeterian dynamics, and other volumes published independent of the Society. And now, too, there are two biographies, a two-volume work by an economist, Robert Loring Allen |1~, reviewed by Samuels |2~, and a single volume by a sociologist, Richard Swedberg Richard Swedberg is a Swedish sociologist at Cornell University. Swedberg has been a contributor to developing a sociological approach to the analysis of the economy.
This "new economic sociology" draws on the sociology of organizations - as well as on Max Weber. , and a newly translated volume (originally published in 1983 in Vienna) of personal and intellectual biographical essays, by the late Austrian economist Eduard Marz. Allen and Marz were students of Schumpeter's at Harvard.
Swedberg's is more of an intellectual biography than is Allen's, though it too covers all the important details of Schumpeter's career in Europe and the U.S. Both biographies present the same dismal picture of Schumpeter's depression and sense of personal inadequacy, his arrogance and elitism e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. , and his secret private religion centering on his late mother and second wife, treated as private saints. Both tell the same story of Schumpeter the man. Schumpeter loses his magisterial mag·is·te·ri·al
a. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a master or teacher; authoritative: a magisterial account of the history of the English language.
b. , larger-than-life image, although his enormous intellectual accomplishments remain.
Swedberg presents very sophisticated interpretations of Schumpeter's three "sociological" essays, those on the crisis of the tax state, imperialism, and social classes. Particularly impressive is Swedberg's sympathetic account of what Schumpeter tried to do, and in fact did, in his Business Cycles (1939). Generally, Swedberg shows how Schumpeter's "economic" works look different once one goes beyond interpreting them on the basis of economics defined as pure microeconomic mi·cro·ec·o·nom·ics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The study of the operations of the components of a national economy, such as individual firms, households, and consumers. theory. Both Swedberg and Allen stress that Schumpeter sought and to some extent achieved a broadly comprehensive definition of economics, the latter emphasizing Schumpeter's failure to achieve a determinate DETERMINATE. That which is ascertained; what is particularly designated; as, if I sell you my horse Napoleon, the article sold is here determined. This is very different from a contract by which I would have sold you a horse, without a particular designation of any horse. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 947, 950. evolutionary model encompassing economic and social history. Distinctive in Swedberg's interpretation is the role of Gustav Schmoller's work for both Max Weber Noun 1. Max Weber - United States abstract painter (born in Russia) (1881-1961)
2. Max Weber - German sociologist and pioneer of the analytic method in sociology (1864-1920)
Weber and Schumpeter.
Swedberg writes that Schumpeter was always "intensely aware that even if there exist several social sciences, there is only one social reality"; thus Schumpeter's Theory of Economic Development opens with the statement that "the social process is really one indivisible INDIVISIBLE. That which cannot be separated.
2. It is important to ascertain when a consideration or a contract, is or is not indivisible. When a consideration is entire and indivisible, and it is against law, the contract is void in toto. 11 Verm. 592; 2 W. whole". By the same token, part of Swedberg's interpretation of Schumpeter's case for studying the history of economic thought is that "economics is not a self-sufficient and independent doctrine but part of society. It is . . . very important for an economist to contemplate the fact that economics is socially grounded . . .".
What distinguishes Schumpeter's intellectual work was his working out of these ideas of the nature of socioeconomic reality and of socio-economics. "The great problem for Schumpeter, as for some of his colleagues in Vienna, such as von Wieser," Swedberg writes,
was how to put all of these different approaches together. What role, for example, should history play in relation to economic theory? And what exactly was the role of sociology and statistics? During his career as an economist Schumpeter would answer these questions in different ways; sometimes he emphasized the role of abstract theory and at other times the role of economic history. But he always addressed these questions, and it is the way that he worked out these problems in his various writings which constitutes the major theme in his life-work as an economist.
This also meant that Schumpeter, as in his Theory of Economic Development, attempted "to grasp the whole economic process with the help of economic theory in combination with the other social sciences," and not independent of them. Thus Swedberg says that "Schumpeter's major project as an economist . . . was how to devise a way to encompass the whole economic phenomenon through economic theory and the adjoining social sciences . . . . |Schumpeter~ had been forced to change his earlier stance that economic theory should be radically cut off from the other social sciences".
Marz's essays typically present the relevant Schumpeter material against the background of some combination of economic history, contemporary writings of others, and selected subsequent work. The first five essays, on Schumpeter the economist, treat his theory in relation to Marxism; the Schumpeterian entrepreneur; the genesis of his theory of economic development; and the theories of imperialism and the crisis of the tax state.
The next three chapters examine the Bauer-Mises-Schumpeter socialization socialization /so·cial·iza·tion/ (so?shal-i-za´shun) the process by which society integrates the individual and the individual learns to behave in socially acceptable ways.
n. and socialist calculation controversies; the dating of cyclical cyclical
Of or relating to a variable, such as housing starts, car sales, or the price of a certain stock, that is subject to regular or irregular up-and-down movements. periodization Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into discrete named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics. of the Austrian and German economies; and Schumpeter in relation to the Austrian School of Economics Austrian school of economics
Body of economic theory developed by several late 19th-century Austrian economists. Carl Menger (1840–1921) published a paper on their new theory of value in 1871. . The final two chapters examine Schumpeter's short career in 1919 as Austrian Minister of Finance and the author's recollections of Schumpeter the teacher at Harvard.
Marz is a perceptive per·cep·tive
1. Of or relating to perception.
2. Having the ability to perceive.
3. Keenly discerning.
per interpreter and careful historian, especially in relating Schumpeter to Marx, Max Weber, and Austro-Marxism, and in discussing various critics of Schumpeter. He, too, notes Schumpeter's elitism and racism. Although Veblen is not mentioned in this connection, Schumpeter's ideas on the nature of predatory states with their predispositions to expansion and war are seen to be close to Veblen's. Marz also is perceptive with regard to Schumpeter's emphasis on the important role of the credit system in regard to forced saving. On the other hand, his application of the idea of a crisis of the tax state could have been less presumptuous pre·sump·tu·ous
Going beyond what is right or proper; excessively forward.
[Middle English, from Old French presumptueux, from Late Latin praes .
Schumpeter dealt with fundamental questions of the economy, especially capitalism, as a system and anyone interested in his work thereon will find careful reading of these volumes quite rewarding.
1. Allen, Robert Loring. The Life and Work of Joseph Schumpeter Noun 1. Joseph Schumpeter - United States economist (born in Czechoslovakia) (1883-1950)
Joseph Alois Schumpeter, Schumpeter . Two volumes. New Brunswick New Brunswick, province, Canada
New Brunswick, province (2001 pop. 729,498), 28,345 sq mi (73,433 sq km), including 519 sq mi (1,345 sq km) of water surface, E Canada. , N.J.: Transaction, 1991.
2. Samuels, Warren J. Review. Journal of Economic Literature, 30, March 1992, 179-81.