Economics Working Papers

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This paper discusses the impact of Sraffa’s thinking on economics. It argues increasing specialization in research is producing an ‘all trees, no forest’ fragmentation of economics that creates opportunities for a return to concerns that motivated classical political economy. It associates this with a methodological conception of what a more pluralistic economics involves, and applies this to relationships between production and distribution. A methodological conception of ‘openness’ is traced to a 1931 turning point in Sraffa’s thinking when he used an open-closed distinction to explain the relationship between production and distribution, and engaged in a philosophy of science reasoning reminiscent of systems theory. The paper argues there are important parallels between Sraffa and Gramsci’s thinking regarding the open-closed distinction.

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