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Brat vs Trammell: Deciphering the Language

June 11th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

In a stunning victory over the Republican incumbent House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Economics professor(!) Dr. Dave Brat will face off against Sociology professor Democrat Dr. Jack Trammell in November.

While the 7th district in Virginia certainly leans Republican, Brat may have a tough go of it. Why? The language problem. The language of sociology is probably better aligned with the typical voter.

In the classic piece “The Economics/Sociology Phrase Book”, Jeffrey A. Smith and Kermit Daniel outline the difference between the two disciplines.

To best prepare for the Brat vs Trammell debate, Read the whole thing. I provide an abridged version below. A few relevant links are provided, (including a mea culpa, evidence of my own failure to resist non-economic thinking)

Section I: Sociology to Economics

Sociological Term or Phrase Economics Term or Phrase
rational behavior The use of decision rules based on explicit mathematical calculation, combined with a utility function in which monetary wealth is the only argument.
need want
different value orientations laziness
is correlated with is correlated with
determines is correlated with
is caused by is correlated with
structural institutional
endogenous endogenous
exogenous endogenous
position in the urban hierarchy what size town you live in
causal nexus general equilibrium
exploitation contract
discrimination wage differential
low wage jobs low productivity workers
corporate elite high productivity workers
patriarchy (I) sexual division of labor based on technological differences
patriarchy (II) family
bourgeois sexual privatism monogamy
non-normative family arrangements single motherhood
model (I) explanation
model (II) diagram involving circles and arrows
Marxist Marxist
socialist Marxist
communist Marxist
Communist Marxist
government state
profit maximization revenue maximization
profit maximizing behavior discrimination
monopolist large firm
unemployment leisure
labor force detachment leisure
macroeconomics Keynesian demand management
conservative macroeconomics neoclassical economics
neoclassical economics economics
Marxist economics sociology

Section II: Economics to Sociology

Economics Term or Phrase Sociological Term or Phrase
elasticity zero
information costs changing tastes
technological change changing tastes
relative price change changing tastes
structural absurd mathematical abstraction
economics ex post rationalization for maintaining current institutional arrangements
Castro Fidel
dictator leader

Section III: My Addition

Economics Term or Phrase Sociological Term or Phrase
Employer Monopsonist


2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve Roth // Jun 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Wow! That’s interesting. The example pointed to as the prototypical example of rationalist economics says that downward redistribution makes us all more prosperous, while upward redistribution impoverishes us all, by comparison. Definitely worth remembering that!

  • 2 Steve Broback // Nov 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm


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