Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Some Unintended Consequences of Demographic Change

My favourite quotation this term from a student essay:

The great post war economic boom had a positive effect on economic activity as population sizes increased, creating demand for the need to understand German theorists.

You know you’ve been talking about Habermas too much, when your students start drawing conclusions like this…

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4 responses to “Some Unintended Consequences of Demographic Change

  1. Russ June 14, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve never been a big fan of population increases as an explanation for the economic boom either…

    The last part is more plausible, but unclear: is population growth causing conflicts, that then create demand for understanding Habermas?; or is the economic boom creating a demand for understanding Marx and Hayek?

    Are there endogenous effects that might create a demand to understand French theorists? Total societal collapse from a plague comes to mind, but I’d probably plump for Hobbes instead.

  2. N Pepperell June 14, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    I also like the ambiguity in the term “demand” – demand from the population, or demand from people like me, pointing to the demographic trends and saying, “You see? Now that this has happened, I demand that you read German theorists!”

    Maybe there’s a similar kind of demand behind the interest in French theory – or perhaps that trend is better explained by supply-side factors…

  3. N Pepperell June 15, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    That’s absolutely fantastic! The article reminds me of discussions I’ve had in other venues, over whether particular theoretical categories can be said to be intrinsically “critical”, in the sense of automatically aligning themselves with particular political agendas. I think the article suggests that, at least for categories like “flux” or “disjunction”, the answer is no…

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