I recently read a New York Times article, “What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?,” in which senior New York Times economic correspondent Neil Irwin tackles the idea of the role economists play in politics when trying to solve some of the country’s most intractable problems, such as poverty, racial inequality, and unemployment. He goes on to highlight how government tends to lack a sociological viewpoint on solving such matters. Irwin takes an intriguing position that compellingly demonstrates how economics is only one piece of a much broader, multi-varied issue.
Irwin calls for sociology to become more involved in solving some of the country’s problems. He believes that often, economists are relied on too heavily when, in reality, they may only be able to deliver a partial, one-dimensional solution. Michèle Lamont, a Harvard sociologist, shared her thoughts on the matter, “Once economists have the ears of people in Washington, they convince them that the only questions worth asking are the questions that economists are equipped to answer.”
There was, however, a point in history where sociologists were almost heard in government. In 1967, Senator Walter Mondale proposed the Council of Social Advisers, which was designed to combat the current Council of Economic Advisers within the White House, but the council never came to fruition.
Read more on this article here.