Researcher biography

I worked briefly as a professional economist before returning to university to complete a PhD in the history of economic thought, later published as A Critical History of the Economy (Routledge, 2011). I am currently studying the emergence of the economist as a distinctive intellectual persona, focusing on the British case, which naturally directs attention to Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, and David Ricardo. The tendency for the history of economic thought to be written in a retrospective idiom has obscured the fact that the first economists were greeted with open hostility by important sections of their society. One of the leading reasons was that 'theorising' had not been established as a prestigious activity, and the presumption of intellectuals to reform their societies on the basis of 'theory' was often perceived as an instance of philosophical enthusiasm, an intellectual pathology. The long-range hypothesis to test in future work is that the original fractiousness of economists made it exceedingly difficult to stabilise the office of the economist in relation to government, and that the nature of this office has been an object of contest inside and outside economics ever since. Provisional results have been published in Modern Intellectual History and Intellectual History Review.