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Berkeley Political Economy 101: Reference Document SECOND DRAFT


Modern Theories of Political Economy


Completion of PE 100 and IAS 45 are required before students can register for the course.


Students intending to become Political Economy majors will ideally complete PE 101 by the end of their sophomore year.


PE 101 examines modern approaches to the interaction between economics and politics--what in an earlier age would have been called "moral philosophy." Building on the knowledge of world history covered in IAS 45 and the thinkers of the classical political economy tradition covered in PE 100, it focuses on the usefulness of alternative theories of political economy, both the classical theories covered in PE 100 and the modern theories of the 20th and 21st centuries in the their historical context. The course is explicitly interdisciplinary: theories of political economy cannot do their job if they are constrained by discipinary boundaries. It is a thoeretical course: empirical and historical facts are used as aids to theoretical comprehension and yardsticks to assess the usefulness of alternative theoretical perspectives.

The first two-thirds or so of the course will introduce students to general theoretical works and current intellectual debates in political economy. The last third or so of the course will specialize. Political Economy majors here at Berkeley tend to concentrate in one of six areas:

  • the political economy of post-industrial societies,
  • economic late develpment and political democratization,
  • international relations and globalization,
  • comparative political and economic systems,
  • historical issues of the Great Transformation,
  • modern China.

The last third or so of each course should focus on those aspects of political economy theory that will be most useful to students concentrating in one (or at a pinch two) of these areas.


Political economy and war, market and non-market systems, distributive justice, libertarianism and communitarianism, liberal democracy and regulated capitalism, social democracy and mixed economy, international economic orders and American hegemony, globalization, public choice, late development successes, late development failures, worlds of welfare capitalism, neoliberalism and its discontents, market reforms in post-industrial economies, transitions from communism, political economy and the digital age.


Tentatively and provisionally, the teaching staff believe that all versions of the course taught should cover the thoughts and approaches of John Maynard Keynes, Karl Polanyi, Friedrich Hayek, Charles Lindblom, Anthony Downs, James Buchanan, Mancur Olson, Carl Schmitt, Georg Lukacs, Juergen Habermas, Antonio Gramsci, and Dani Rodrik--not necessarily through intensive reading of the works of the social scientists and moral philosophers themselves, but at least through readings that apply their theories and approaches to issues in 20th and 21st century political economy.

Authors whose works and approaches have been assigned recently in PE 101 include: George Akerlof, Benedict Anderson, Norman Angell, Hannah Arendt, Benjamin Barber, Robert Bates, Simone de Beauvoir, Isaiah Berlin, James Buchanan, Nancy Chodorow, Ronald Coase, Milovan Djilas, Anthony Downs, Barry Eichengreen, James Fallows, James Ferguson, Betty Friedan, Michel Foucault, Robert Frank, Milton Friedman, Francis Fukuyama, Alexander Gerschenkron, Peter Gourevich, Antonio Gramsci, Juergen Habermas, Peter Hall, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Heilbroner, Albert Hirschman, John Hobson, Stephen Holmes, Tony Judt, Terry Karl, John Maynard Keynes, Charles Kindleberger, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Janos Kornai, Paul Krugman, Timur Kuran, Vladimir Lenin, Arthur Lewis, Charles Lindblom, Georg Lukacs, Charles Maier, Hyman Minsky, Mancur Olson, George Orwell, William Pfaff, Karl Polanyi, John Rawls, Robert Reich, Dani Rodrik, Elaine Scarry, Carl Schmitt, Joseph Schumpeter, James Scott, Amartya Sen, Robert Shiller, Judith Shklar, Jessica Stern, Joseph Stiglitz, Gordon Tullock, Michael Walzer, Eugen Weber, Fareed Zakaria. Instructors are certainly not expected to cover all of the topics or assign all the authors listed, but they should discuss enough topics and assign enough authors to span the space of political economy.

Course Boundaries vis-a-vis PE 100:

This course covers the twentieth century world since the Great Depression, which is where PE 100 ends. At most a week should be spent on pre-Depression theorists and events in this course, allowing students to see the ways in which the project of classical political economy set the stage for new kinds of theory to be discussed in PEIS 101. John Maynard Keynes and Karl Polanyi are social scientists/moral philosophers whose thoughts straddle the boundary of the courses.

Assessments and Assignments:

The material lends itself to in-class exams, take-home exams, and research papers. Each instructor cam generate those kind of assignments that work best with that instructor’s teaching. At least three written assignments/exams should be required over the course of the semester, in order to observe student improvement. Provide studente with as many opportunities as possible to reflect upon tbe course content: it will be new and strange to many.

Course Instructional Support:

Since the last budget crisis this course is without GSI-led section support, but with readers/graders. The hope is that capping PE 101 sections at 50 will allow for meaningful interaction to take place in the lecture itself.