Paul Adler, Todd Tucker | Populism
How has the language of economics, as codified by economics as a discipline, entered the US novel in the postwar period? Have economists influenced novelists at the level of language, and if so, how and how much? We begin with the belief, inferred from current scholarship on economics and culture, but never before empirically tested, that economic language became more prevalent around 1980, especially among white men—a belief that we strive to complicate and give nuance. Readers may detect an irony in the relationship between our method and case study. No academic discipline has valorized the use of quantification for social analysis more than economics. As a discipline, its language has become saturated with the language of modeling. Cultural and literary critics have long argued that economics has even harmed society by creating false accounts of how humans behave and think. Can we take their tools, however, and make them ours as a way to critique economics itself?