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Quantitative and Computational Approaches in the Social Studies of Economics

Extended deadline

The deadline for expression of interest and abstract is extended to July 31, 2021.

Editors of the special issue

François Claveau (Université de Sherbrooke)

Aurélien Goutsmedt (UQAM and Université de Sherbrooke)

Catherine Herfeld (University of Zurich)

Call for papers

This call for papers aims at stimulating new scholarly contributions that use quantitative and computational methods in the social studies of economics. We intend to attract papers that apply these methods to offer insights and new stories about economics, its evolution, and its role in policymaking. Three recent developments have made quantitative and computational methods particularly promising for the study of economics and economic expertise.

(1) A large and diverse set of quantitative and computational methods has emerged in recent decades, which is not only widely accessible today but also extensively used in the social sciences. This set includes not only methods from classical statistics, but also network analysis, natural language processing and other computational methods associated with contemporary data science. For instance, prosopography allows for the statistical analysis of specific research fields, journals, institutions, and periods (see Hoover and Svorenčík, 2020 on the American Economic Association; Coman, 2019 on European think tanks; or Lebaron and Dogan, 2016 on central bankers). Bibliometric methods are increasingly used to map the development of disciplines and the interrelation of scholarly fields (Claveau and Gingras, 2016), or to study particular topics (Goutsmedt, 2021) and individual scientific contributions (Andrada, 2017). Network analysis has proven to be a versatile tool to study the circulation of ideas (Herfeld and Doehne, 2019), professional relationships (Goutsmedt, Renault, and Sergi, 2021), and the connection between economists and policy institutions (Helgadóttir, 2016). Other tools such as text mining also open up a large number of possibilities for addressing new questions in the social studies of economics (Cherrier and Saïdi, 2018; Ambrosino et al., 2018; Schonhardt-Bailey, 2013). Applying those methods has been made easier by the collective effort of an international and interdisciplinary community of data enthusiasts, who contribute by sharing dedicated packages in various computer languages, foremost R and Python.

(2) Data in digital format are now readily available. Bibliometric databases such as Web of Science and Scopus have long been used for historical research, but newcomers such as Dimensions are expanding our possibilities. Many services, including JSTOR and Project Gutenberg, also give access to articles and books full text. For researchers studying the role of economics in the public sphere, tools such as Media Cloud or Twitter API allow to track economists' public discussion on different topics. For scholars addressing questions about the relationship between economics and policymaking, the movement for opening government data implies the availability of a large amount of policy-relevant information.

(3) Post-war economics has been characterized by significant growth in inputs (number of economists, size of research funding, and diversity of requests from decision-makers) and in outputs (academic articles and expert contributions to court cases, specialized committees, and media outlets). This makes it harder for social scientists studying economics to use traditional methods for properly identifying, analysing, and assessing major trends in economics, the main topics studied, the most influential authors and ideas, etc.

This special issue will make those developments fruitful for the social study of economics. We aim at fostering quantitative and computational techniques in the social studies of economics, at stimulating the interest in those methods, and at sharing good practices. However, the scope of the special issue is not limited to the history of economic theories and ideas. We also welcome contributions of broader scope, interrogating the practices of economists, the organisation of the discipline, or the role of economists and economics in different social spheres. We encourage economists, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and political scientists who have an interest in the study of the evolution of economics and economic expertise to submit proposals. Furthermore, the scope of the special issue is not limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. Quantitative and computational methods constitute a powerful resource to provide new perspectives on the development and transformations of earlier periods (Erikson and Hamilton, 2018). More generally, we do expect contributions to thoroughly describe their methods and to favour reproducibility (e.g., by sharing code and, when possible, data on public repositories).

Topics we will consider include, but are not limited to:

  • The networks of economic experts involved in policymaking and in advising politicians.

  • The transformation of economists' participation to public debates and the spread of economics’ "style of reasoning" into society.

  • The evolution of particular topics or sub-fields and the circulation, evolution, and plurality of economic concepts, methods, theories, and ideas.

  • The dynamics of academic publications and attribution of scientific credit.

  • The role of geographic frontiers in economics with the internationalisation of economics and the persistence of national/regional traditions.

  • The evolution of the relations between economics and other disciplines, as well as between economics and economic expertise.

Œconomia is an open-access online journal. Aside from the requirement that the length of the article and the number of figures should suit the argument of an article, published articles will not be constrained by page-limit or black-and-white printing. Figures and tables would be published online in high-quality format and in colours.

Procedure and timeline

Expression of interest and abstract: July 31, 2021

Notification of acceptance by the editors: September 1, 2021.

Deadline for submission of full papers: February 15, 2022.

Publication of the issue: June 2023

Researchers who would like to be considered for this special issue should submit the title of their paper, an extended abstract (1,000-1,500 words), and the affiliations of the authors. This information should be sent as email attachment to Submissions are due on July 15, 2021 at the latest. Authors whose proposals are selected by the editors will be notified the latest by September 1, 2021. The date for submission of full paper is on February 15, 2022. The usual peer review process, revision period, until the acceptance of papers is expected to end by early 2023 and the publication of the special issue is planned for the first semester of 2023. For further information, please contact the editors of the special issue or send a message to


Ambrosino, Angela, Mario Cedrini, John B. Davis, Stefano Fiori, Marco Guerzoni, and Massimiliano Nuccio. 2018. What Topic Modeling Could Reveal about the Evolution of Economics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 25(4): 329-348.

Andrada, Alexandre F. S. 2017. Understanding Robert Lucas (1967-1981): His Influence and Influences. EconomiA, 18(2): 212-228.

Cherrier, Beatrice, and Aurélien Saïdi. 2018. The Indeterminate Fate of Sunspots in Economics. History of Political Economy, 50(3): 425-481.

Claveau, François, and Yves Gingras. 2016. Macrodynamics of Economics: A Bibliometric History. History of Political Economy, 48(4): 551-592.

Coman, Ramona. 2019. Transnational Economists in the Eurozone Crisis: Professional Structures, Networks and Ideas. New Political Economy, 25(6): 978-991.

Erikson, Emily, and Mark Hamilton. 2018. Companies and the Rise of Economic Thought: The Institutional Foundations of Early Economics in England, 1550–1720. American Journal of Sociology, 124(1): 111-149.

Goutsmedt, Aurélien. 2021. From the Stagflation to the Great Inflation: Explaining the US Economy of the 1970s. Revue d’économie politique, Forthcoming.

Goutsmedt, Aurélien, Matthieu Renault, and Francesco Sergi. 2021. European Economics and the Early Years of the International Seminar on Macroeconomics. Revue d’économie politique, Forthcoming.

Heckman, James J., and Sidharth Moktan. 2020. Publishing and Promotion in Economics: The Tyranny of the Top Five. Journal of Economic Literature, 58(2): 419-470.

Helgadóttir, Oddný. 2016. The Bocconi Boys Go to Brussels: Italian Economic Ideas, Professional Networks and European Austerity. Journal of European Public Policy, 23(3): 392-409.

Herfeld, Catherine, and Malte Doehne. 2018. Five Reasons for the Use of Network Analysis in the History of Economics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 25(4): 311-328.

Hirschman, Daniel, and Elizabeth Popp Berman. 2014. Do Economists Make Policies? On the Political Effects of Economics. Socio-Economic Review, 12(4): 779-811.

Hoover, Kevin D., and Andrej Svorenčík. 2020. "Who Runs the AEA?" SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3741439.

Lebaron, Frédéric, and Aykiz Dogan. 2016. Do Central Bankers’ Biographies Matter? Sociologica, January.

Schonhardt-Bailey, Cheryl. 2013. Deliberating American Monetary Policy: A Textual Analysis. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

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