Socioeconomics (also known as socio-economics or social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects social processes. In general it analyzes how societies progress, stagnate, or regress because of their local or regional economy, or the global economy.
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Socioeconomics is sometimes used as an umbrella term with different usages. 'Social economics' may refer broadly to the "use of economics in the study of society." More narrowly, contemporary practice considers behavioral interactions of individuals and groups through social capital and social "markets" (not excluding for example, sorting by marriage) and the formation of social norms. In the latter, it studies the relation of economics to social values.
A distinct supplemental usage describes social economics as "a discipline studying the reciprocal relationship between economic science on the one hand and social philosophy, ethics, and human dignity on the other" toward social reconstruction and improvement or as also emphasizing multidisciplinary methods from such fields as sociology, history, and political science. In criticizing mainstream economics for its alleged faulty philosophical premises (for example the pursuit of self-interest) and neglect of dysfunctional economic relationships, such advocates tend to classify social economics as heterodox.
In many cases, socioeconomists focus on the social impact of some sort of economic change. Such changes might include a closing factory, market manipulation, the signing of international trade treaties, new natural gas regulation, etc. Such social effects can be wide-ranging in size, anywhere from local effects on a small community to changes to an entire society. Examples of causes of socioeconomic impacts include new technologies such as cars or mobile phones, changes in laws, changes in the physical environment (such as increasing crowding within cities), and ecological changes (such as prolonged drought or declining fish stocks). These may affect patterns of consumption, the distribution of incomes and wealth, the way in which people behave (both in terms of purchase decisions and the way in which they choose to spend their time), and the overall quality of life.
The goal of socioeconomic study is generally to bring about socioeconomic development, usually in terms of improvements in metrics such as GDP, life expectancy, literacy, levels of employment, etc.
Although harder to measure, changes in less-tangible factors are also considered, such as personal dignity, freedom of association, personal safety and freedom from fear of physical harm, and the extent of participation in civil society.
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- • 'Relation of Economics to Social Values' is the corresponding title of JEL: A13 in the Journal of Economic Literature classification codes.
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Vol. 1A: Part 1. Social Preferences, ch. 1-11; Part 2. Social Actions, ch. 12-17. Description & Contents links and chapter-preview links.
Vol. 1B: Part 3. Peer and Neighborhood Effects, ch. 18-25. Description & Contents links and chapter-preview links
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• Tony Lawson, 2006. "The Nature of Heterodox Economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, 30(4), pp. 483-505. Alternate access copy (press +).
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