Sunday, December 16, 2012

Albert Hirschman in Latin America: Notes on Hirschman´s Trilogy on Economic Development.

Albert HirschmanThis paper published in 2004 by professor Ana Maria Bianchi of the Faculty of Economics of the University of São Paulo  offers more in this series on the work and considerable contributions of the great economist and social scientist Albert Hirschman who died on Monday of this week in Princeton New Jersey. (Also see the earlier homage that appeared here "Earth, receive an honoured guest. In Memory of Albert O. Hirschman" at )

Albert Hirschman in Latin America: Notes on Hirschman´s Trilogy on Economic Development.

By Ana Maria Bianchi, Universidade de São Paulo

* Orignal article here.

"This paper discusses Albert Hirschman´s writings that resulted from his professional experience in Colombia, Brazil, Chile and other Latin American countries during the 1950s and 1960s. The focus is on the trilogy written by Hirschman in the field of development economics, which comprises: The Strategy of Economic Development (1958), Journeys Toward Progress (1963) and Development Projects Observed (1967). Some methodological aspects of those writings, which tend to be recurrent throughout the author´s whole intellectual career, are emphasized.

One interesting thing of writing about Hirschman is the fact that he goes back again and again to the same subjects, restating his propositions, looking them from a different angle and reintroducing his arguments in a modified manner. In a sense, it looks as if he has been writing a single book during all his life. Even after he moved away from development economics, he went back to concepts built up in his earlier writings in pieces such as Exit, Voice and Loyalty (1970, hereafter Exit), A Bias for Hope (1971, hereafter Bias for Hope), Essays in Trespassing (1981, hereafter Essays), “A Dissenter´s Confession: Revisiting the Strategy of Economic Development” (1984, hereafter Dissenter´s Confession), Rival Views of Market Society and Other Recent Essays (1986, hereafter Rival Views), Crossing Boundaries (1998, hereafter Crossing Boundaries) and A Propensity to Self-Subversion (1995, hereafter Propensity).

The fact that Hirschman goes back to the same topics defies the historian of ideas to distinguish what he wrote in an earlier phase of his career from what he later says about what he wrote. This challenge will not be met in this paper, due to its preliminary character. Rather, I will focus on the basic content of each book constituting the trilogy, to which the next three sections will be devoted. In the concluding section I will discuss a few methodological features of Hirschman´s contribution to development economics."

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Ana Maria Afonso Ferreira BianchiAna Maria Bianchi has a Graduate Degree in Social Sciences from the Catholic University of São Paulo (1968), MA in Sociology from the University of São Paulo (1971) and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of São Paulo (1981). Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Administration and Accounting from USP, where in 1992 she was named as a full professor. She is a researcher in the area of economics, with emphasis on the themes: economic methodology, economic sociology, history of economic thought and development economics. She has written on several occasions about the work and contributions of Albert Hirschman. She can be reached at amafbian(at)

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about-the editor - 11dec12

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