I have been meaning to post this for awhile, but Troy's comment on my last post reminded me. My close colleague Virgil Storr has taken over the editorship of Studies in Emergent Orders. Virgil has really had strong success in publishing his work in "cultural economy" in outlets ranging from Rationality and Society and Public Choice to Journal of Urban Affairs and Space and Culture. All of this while directing our student programs at the Mercatus Center and helping steer several PhD students successfully through the program here at GMU.
Virgil's brand of Austrian economics blends the classic teachings of Mises and Hayek, with a more explicit reference to its roots in Weberian sociology and the extension of that tradition in the hands of Alfred Schutz on the one hand, and Richard Swedberg on the other. He is combining the argumentative structure of an economist with the skills of an ethnographer to tackle questions raised in social theory. Working closely with Virgil is to see in a very real sense the research program that Don Lavoie tried to encourage a generation of graduate students to pursue. I think Don would be very pleased and surprised at how Virgil has developed that program and moved beyond even what Don thought was the way to go.
It is funny how careers shift. I was a student of Don Lavoie as his research interests switched from very traditional Austrian economics and history of thought, to a philosophical social theorists. I was influenced and trained more or less by Lavoie I (Austrian economist), but exposed to the ongoing transformation to Lavoie II (hermeneutical Austrian social thinker). But if you look at my dissertation (and first book), I did a combination of history of thought and economic history to tackle a debate in comparative political economy my only reference to Gadamer was about doing history with the aid of theory, and to Polanyi was to his work on the Soviet system. I did not set out to contribute to a new form of social science/social theory. I wanted to bring the insights of the Austrian school to force a re-examination of the Soviet experience with planning. Bergson, Nove, Grossman, etc. they were my intended audience in economics; Conquest, Pipes, Malia, Cohen, etc., they were my intended audience in history.
Since I left GMU as a student (and under the direct mentorship of Don), I continued to move more in the direction of a traditional economics (albeit an Austrian version of that) research path, and have sought to use a blend of Austrian, Bloomington, and Virginia schools of thought to forge a program in conceptual and applied political economy. I did in that early period write some methodological essays influenced by Lavoie, but it was always with an eye to create space within the traditional discourse in economics and political economy for the sort of entrepreneurial market process, property and institutions, politics as exchange and the constitutional level of analysis perspective that I thought was necessary to tackle the "big questions" in the discipline. It was from the economics perspective that I had that I then sometimes attempted to make contributions to philosophical discourse with respect to the nature of science, but also on philosophical topics such as justice and distribution. But basically I do an Austrian version of microeconomics, a Bloomington version of institutional analysis, and a Virginia version of political economy. In short, I do economics and political economy and I try to talk to economists and political economist more than any other target audience. This is still how I work.
Don tried to get us to go, in many ways, the other way --- think philosophically/methodologically and then let that influence the way you did your political economy. This led Don to emphasize a more sociological understanding of the economy --- interpretive political economy as he termed it at times, and to which his efforts at the end of his life where directed to write a book on the subject before his time was tragically cut short due to illness. Don gave up talking to economists, he wanted to talk to philosophers, historians, social theorists.
Virgil has actually found another path between Don and myself. Don told him when he came here to study with him that there was a "good Pete" (the more critical of economics) and the "bad Pete" (the more accepting of neoclassical orthodoxy). Virgil in moving beyond both Don and myself, took the logically consistent positions of the "good" and the "bad" and has as far as I can tell avoided the pitfalls of either. I guess that means I am saying he just does "good work" that you should all read. He talks across disciplines and across ideological perspectives. And he has been very successful as a look at his CV will reveal at forging this conversation (what Lavoie sometimes called provocatively but incorrectly 'disciplinary trespassing').
Well, in addition to his own scholarship, Virgil is now taking over the editorship of Studies in Emergent Order. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for scholars across the sciences and humanities to think seriously about spontaneous order and have an outlet for their work. I expect Virgil to cultivate a very "good" conversation in this journal with his wonderful knack of transforming not only "bad" into good, but to take "good" and make it even better. The only drawback to him taking on this new editorial role, we need to make sure at GMU/Mercatus that Virgil has the time and space required to finish his major book projects on the dream of freedom in post-colonialism, and on the culture of markets.
These books are on vitally important topics and are being written by the right man for the job.