© 2016

Enacting Dismal Science

New Perspectives on the Performativity of Economics

  • Ivan Boldyrev
  • Ekaterina Svetlova
  • Develops the concept of performativity formulated by Callon and MacKenzie

  • Contributors present a strongly interdisciplinary perspective

  • Enhances the relevance of performativity to current economic and social theory


Part of the Perspectives from Social Economics book series (PSE)

About this book


In this book, sociologists, philosophers, and economists investigate the conceptual issues around the performativity of economics over a variety of disciplinary contexts and provide new case studies illuminating this phenomenon. In featuring the latest contributions to the performativity debate the book revives discussion of the fundamental questions: What precise meaning can we attribute to the notion of performativity? What empirical evidence can help us recognize economics as performative? And what consequences does performativity have for contemporary societies? The contributions demonstrate how performativity can serve as a powerful conceptual resource in dealing with economic knowledge, as an inspiring framework for investigating performative practices, and as an engine of discovery for thinking of the economic proper.                  


performativity economics economic incentives homo economicus economization economic models institutions conventions ethics John Maynard Keynes macroeconomics morality naturalism philosophy social science

Editors and affiliations

  • Ivan Boldyrev
    • 1
  • Ekaterina Svetlova
    • 2
  1. 1.BerlinGermany
  2. 2.LeicesterUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Ivan Boldyrev is Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics, Russia, and Research Associate at the Witten Institute for Institutional Change at the University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany. His books include Ernst Bloch and His Contemporaries and Hegel, Institutions and Economics (with Carsten Herrmann-Pillath). He has authored many articles focusing on the intellectual history of economics, philosophy of the social sciences, and German Idealism.
Ekaterina Svetlova is a Senior Lecturer of Accounting and Finance at the University of Leicester’s School of Management, UK. Previously, she has been a Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Constance, Germany; Zeppelin University, Germany; and University of Basel, Switzerland. She also worked as a Portfolio Manager and Financial Analyst at a big investment company in Frankfurt, Germany, for six years. Svetlova has published on themes such as economic sociology, social studies of finance, and economic philosophy in journals that include Economy and Society, Culture and Organization, Science in Context, Synthese and International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.            

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“This collection is commendable for actually doing what it says it does; presenting different views on the theoretical discussions and empirical developments that define performativity of economics today. … Enacting dismal science explicitly positions itself within performativity of economics and, hence, will find a particularly engaged audience among scholars who identify with this perspective – and field.” (Sine Nørholm Just, Ephemera. Theory & Politics In Organization, Vol. 18 (3), 2018)

“Enacting Dismal Science aims at bringing together sociologists, philosophers, and economists to give an overview of ‘what has happened in performativity research in the last year’ … . Indeed, the volume’s strength is in combining theoretical and empirical contributions that give readers a good sense of this fast-growing, cross-disciplinary field, including the various lines of (at times fierce) criticism that has been directed against it.” (Benjamin Braun, Economic Sociology, The European Electronic Newsletter, Vol. 18 (3), July, 2017)

“Boldyrev and Svetlova have set out a challenging and important task to push forward the dispersed streams of thought on performativity of economics. While this volume offers a solid reconstruction of the historical origins of the concept … .” (Pavel Kuchař, Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, Vol.10 (2), Fall, 2017)

“This book … provides new important tools for inquiring into that notion, called performativity… . The book’s title contains the word ‘enacting’, as the mechanism of enaction is considered a pivotal performative mechanism … . it emphasizes that the study of performativity constitutes a real opportunity for economics.” (Enrico Petracca, History of Economic Ideas, Vol. 25 (3), 2017)

“This remarkable book brings together philosophical speculation and historical analyses, conceptual work, and in-depth idiography. It provides a spectacular commentary on the ways economic knowledge inhabits and shapes modern capitalism, and on the logics behind its performative effects. A key reading for those who wish to get an idea on how economics gets political; a helpful source for the students of contemporary economic governmentality; and a convincing interdisciplinary endeavor to explore the everlasting tensions between the economic and the social.” (Joseph Vogl, Professor of Modern German Literature, Cultural, and Media Studies, Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany; Permanent Visiting Professor at the Department of German, Princeton University, USA)

“‘Performativity’ has become one of the most widely used and debated concepts in the social sciences. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in this crucial idea.” (Donald MacKenzie, Professor, University of Edinburgh, UK)

“What exactly does ‘performativity’ entail, and what are the implications for questions about agency, novelty, and critique? This volume helps illuminate these questions, drawing on disciplinary contexts and concerns as diverse as institutional theory, corporate governance, anthropology, and ethics. Not just an exemplary contribution, but a persuasive performance of the field it describes.” (Steve Woolgar, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, University of Oxford, UK, and Linkoping University, Sweden)