Ludwig von Mises as Feminist Economist.

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Date: Fall 2021
From: Independent Review(Vol. 26, Issue 2)
Publisher: Independent Institute
Document Type: Article
Length: 9,109 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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Feminist economics is a research field that seeks to include and recognize women's productive and theoretical contributions within economic science. It is usually considered to have arisen in the 1990s with Marilyn Waring's (1988) work, in which she claimed that nonmarket work, accomplished mainly by women, should be included in economic indicators. Although Waring's work "revitalized feminist arguments for valuing non-market work" (Folbre 2009, 308), feminism and economics had converged several years earlier (see, for example, Boserup 1970; Bergmann 1974; Hartmann 1979). It was in the 1990s that feminist economics officially emerged (Becchio 2020), and, after that, many feminist scholars joined this study and found that women's roles as economic agents were generally absent in economic science, in both theory and empirical studies. This was so, they argued, because mainstream economic epistemology and theory had been built on male constructs and gender biases. Some feminist economists talked about malestream instead of mainstream economics in reference to neoclassical economics because of its androcentric character (Bergmann 1990; Nelson 1992, 1993; Pujol 1992; Seiz 1993). For instance, feminist economists used the idea of homo economicus as evidence that the subject of the study of neoclassical economics is a man and not a neutral subject. Some argued that only reputedly male characteristics such as rationality, individualism, and competition were being studied in economics, whereas putatively female characteristics, such as cooperation, altruism, and subjectivism, were treated as being beyond the scope of economics (Nelson 1996).

Since then, some feminist scholars have tried to improve neoclassical economics by including women's contributions and features, which has resulted in what is known as "gender economics." However, many other feminist economists have considered that the very foundations of neoclassical economics have limited the broadening of the scope of economics and the introduction of new, more humanistic concepts and methodologies. Hence, they prefer to find better explanatory capacity in other approaches and currents within economics. As a result, feminist economics has been connected with many approaches: various socialist branches, American institutionalism, post-Keynesianism, social ontology, the capability approach, behavioral economics, the economic comparative system, and Austrian economics (Becchio 2020). This paper aims to contribute to the existing relationship between the Austrian School of economics and feminist economics by studying the life and oeuvre of one of the most relevant Austrian economists in history, Ludwig von Mises.

Some economists who have worked on this Austrian feminist approach are Karen Vaughn (1994), Deborah Walker (1994; also Walker et al. 2004), Steven Horwitz (1995), William Waller (1999), and Giandomenica Becchio (2015, 2018, 2019, 2020). Others, such as Miguel-Angel Galindo and Domingo Ribeiro (2012), Robert Garnett (2015), and Michael Hammond (2016), have treated it superficially, using Austrian ideas in feminist arguments or vice versa. However, as Waller states, "it seems that an Austrian-feminist approach to economics is possible, but that potential is significantly underdeveloped at present" (1999, 25). Thus, in order to enhance the Austrian--feminist relation, I study the figure of Ludwig von Mises, whose life is a vivid demonstration of the classical liberal defense...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A675267750