On the Difference Between Economics and Sociology

I just finished the first half of my excellent and fun course on the History of Economics. I’m sure I’ll have a few more posts on things discussed here in the coming days, but for now I wanted to report one amusing tidbit that illustrates nicely one difference between Sociology and Economics:

The application to the summer program initially required a letter of recommendation, as is fairly standard for almost everything you apply for in graduate school.* The professors in charge of the program decided at the last minute to eliminate the requirement for a letter of recommendation. They believed that Economics graduate students** might be unwilling to ask their advisors for a letter because the students would be afraid that their advisors would consider it wasteful to spend two weeks studying the history of economic thought (even on someone else’s dime). Sociology grad programs, on the other hand, generally require students to take a two-semester theory sequence which usually spends half or more of its time on the classics.

Alright, back to reading a certain “minor post-Ricardian.”

* Especially, as in this case, when the thing you are applying for is funded.
** The mission of the program is to get more economists interested in the history of economics, and to train more economists capable of teaching history of economic thought. In ages past, history of economics was a standard part of the curriculum, but now many universities don’t even offer it.

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