Political economy and the public sphere

Jeremy Adelman, Jessica Mack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This essay traces the arc of the twin-born notions of political economy and the public sphere. It explores how history trespassed the boundaries that were supposed to separate them, which provoked thinkers and writers to consider the mutual dependency of both spheres and the tension over strict disciplinary divides. Instead of seeing political economy and the public sphere as basically devoted to the understanding of two separate domains of modern human activity, this essay stresses the mutual dependence and tense entanglement of the two. If political economy privatized ideas of the self and turned homo economicus into an autonomous agent, the inequities and risks of market life spawned outrage and opposition that invited writers and publicists to occupy the public sphere as a terrain of battle over capitalist legitimacy. Questions about personal accumulation and public opinion were never as divisible as the disciplinary guardians proclaimed. The essay also calls attention to the global conditions for conceptualizing market integration and the public opinion. Global integration was not something that got added to the categories and models of private wants and public good with the dawn of our globalization. Global integration fired public debate from the start. Both political economy and the public sphere were, this essay will show, the effects of global integration, whose dynamics ensured that the lines separating the two fields were never solid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Political Economy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781137442543
ISBN (Print)9781137442536
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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