Posted on: 31st January, 2014
13th February, 2019
Mind your language: the misuse of terminology in the social sciences.
The innovative economist John Maynard Keynes wrote of his “long struggle of escape … from habitual modes of thought and expression”, concluding that ideas “are more powerful than is commonly understood”. Social scientists generally are imprisoned by the terms and modes of expression that they use in their analyses of real-world phenomena.
Often these terms carry an awkward baggage that biases the enquiry in subtle and unnoticed ways. Although some burden of past meaning is unavoidable, social scientists have a duty to question commonplace terms and to use them carefully. This lecture will illustrate the problem by revealing the misguided use of terms like “market” and “capital”.