In his rememberance of Stigler after his passing, Warren Samuels characterized Stigler's economics as follows:
George was a neoclassicist, a certain type of neoclassicist; if he was more than a neoclassicist he was also an Austrian economist; his version of neoclassicism was an interesting blend of Marshallian and Austrian economics. I am more eclectic than George, and certainly an institutionalist of the old school. In any event, I think he appreciated not only that I took the Chicago School seriously but that I lauded the old, Frank Knight-Henry Simons version of the School relative to his version.
In reading through Stigler's work, from his dissertation to his work on industrial organzation, political economy, and even his Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist one is struck by Stigler's wit, logical mind, and his ability with the art of criticism. He is an equilibrium always theorist, but he often tells a background story of dynamic adjustment to changing circumstances, and error prone actors slouching their way toward that equilibrium.
Samuels saw this, I see this, but it often gets lost in discussions of his ideas. Why would that be the case? My working hypothesis is derived from Richard Wagner and relates to the issue of foreground and background in analysis. Within Austrian economics (the work of Mises, Hayek, Rothbard and Kirzner), the processes of adjustment to change is in the foreground, but lurking in the background is the equilibrium state of affairs where the induced variables of the market are perfectl aligned with the underlying variables of tastes, technology and resource availability. In the Chicago style price theory of Stigler and Becker, it is the opposite --- the equilibrium position is in the foreground, and lurking in the background is a story about entrepreneurial alertness to opportunities for mutually beneficial exchange, and the ceaseless processes of adjustment that are the compositive outcome of innumerable actions of diverse individuals within an economy.
This is why the work of James Buchanan on market theory and the price system, and not just his contributions to political economy and social philosophy, should be required reading for all young people interested in advancing the theory of the market process. His work is in a significant way the perfect blend of Austrian economics and Chicago economics --- and provides the foundation for his unique contribution in developing Virginia Political Economy.