‘Political Economy’ and ‘Economics’

  • Peter Groenewegen
Part of the The New Palgrave book series (NPA)


This article provides a survey of the origin of the term ‘political economy’ and its changes in meaning, emphasizing in particular its first modern usage in the 18th century, its demise from the end of the 19th century, when it was gradually replaced by the word ‘economics’, and its revival in a variety of forms, largely during the 1960s, which have altered its meaning from more traditional usage. What follows is therefore largely definitional and etymological, designed to indicate the lack of precise meaning associated with both the term ‘political economy’ and its more modern synonym, ‘economics’.


Political Economy Public Administration Modern Usage Penguin Classic Economy Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aristotle. The Politics. Trans. J.E. Sinclair, Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1962.Google Scholar
  2. Baran, P.A. 1957. The Political Economy of Growth. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  3. Bentham, J. 1793–5. Manual of Political Economy. In Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings,ed. W. Stark, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1952.Google Scholar
  4. Black, R.D.C. (ed.) 1977. Papers and Correspondence of William Stanley Jevons:Correspondence 1873–78. London: Macmillan for the Royal Economic Society.Google Scholar
  5. Cairnes, J.E. 1875. The Character and Logical Method of Political Economy. London. Reprinted, New York: Kelly, 1965.Google Scholar
  6. Cannan, E. 1929. A Review of Economic Theory. London: P.S. King & Son.Google Scholar
  7. Cantillon, R. 1755. Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General. Ed. H. Higgs, London: Macmillan & Co., 1931.Google Scholar
  8. Dobb, M.H. 1937. Political Economy and Capitalism. London: G. Routledge & Sons.Google Scholar
  9. Engels, F. 1859. Karl Marx’s ‘A contribution to the critique of political economy’. Das Volk, Berlin, No. 14, August. In Marx (1859), 218–22.Google Scholar
  10. Fraser, L.M. 1937. Economic Thought and Language. London: A. & C. Black.Google Scholar
  11. Groenewegen, P.D. 1985. Professor Arndt on political economy: a comment. Economic Record 61, December, 744–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hearn, W.E. 1863. Plutology. Melbourne: Robertson.Google Scholar
  13. Hutcheson, F. 1755. A System of Moral Philosophy. Glasgow: Robert and Andrew Foulis.Google Scholar
  14. Jevons, W.S. 1879. The Theory of Political Economy. 2nd edn, London: Macmillan; Preface in 4th edn, London, 1910.Google Scholar
  15. Jevons, W.S. 1905. Principles of Economics. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Keynes, J.M.1921. Introduction to Cambridge Economic Handbooks. In D.H.Robertson, Money London and Cambridge: Cambridge Economic Handbooks.Google Scholar
  17. King, J.E. 1948. The origin of the term ‘political economy’. Journal of Modern History 20, 230–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Knight, F.H. 1951. Economics. In F.H. Knight, On the History and Method of Economics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.Google Scholar
  19. McCulloch, J.R. 1825. Principles of Political Economy with Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Science. London: Murray, 1870.Google Scholar
  20. MacLeod, H.D. 1875. What is political economy? Contemporary Review 25, 871–93.Google Scholar
  21. McKenzie, R.B. and Tullock, G. 1975. The New World of Economics: Explorations into the Human Experience. Homewood, Ill: Irwin.Google Scholar
  22. Marshall, A. 1890. Principles of Economics. 9th variorum edn, ed. C.W. Guillebaud, London: Macmillan, 1961.Google Scholar
  23. Marshall, A. and Marshall, M.P. 1879. The Economics of Industry. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  24. Marx, K. 1859. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Introduction by M. Dobb, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1971.Google Scholar
  25. Mayerne-Turquet, L. de. 1611. La Monarchie Aristodémocratique; ou le Gouvernement composé et meslé des trois formes de légitimes républiques. Paris.Google Scholar
  26. Mill, J. 1821. Elements of Political Economy. 3rd edn, London, 1926.Google Scholar
  27. Reprinted in James Mill, Selected Writings, ed. D. Wisen, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd for the Scottish Economic Society, 1966.Google Scholar
  28. Mill, J. S. 1831–3. On the definition of political economy; and on the method of investigation proper to it. Essay V in J.S. Mill, Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, LSE Reprint, London, 1948.Google Scholar
  29. Mill, J.S. 1848. Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy. In Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, ed. J.M. Robson, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  30. Mirabeau, V.R., Marquis de. 1758–60. L’ami des hommes ou traité de la population. Avignon and Paris.Google Scholar
  31. Mishan, E.J. 1982. Introduction to Political Economy. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  32. Montchfetien, A. de. 1615. Traité de l’économie politique. Ed. Th. Funck-Brentano, Paris: Plon, 1889.Google Scholar
  33. Myint, H.L.A. 1948. Theories of Welfare Economics. London: Longmans, Green & Co.Google Scholar
  34. Petty, Sir W. 1683. Observations Upon the Dublin Bills of Mortality and the State of that City. In The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, ed. C.H. Hull. Reprinted, New York: Kelley, 1963.Google Scholar
  35. Petty, Sir W. 1691. The Political Anatomy of Ireland. In The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, ed. C.H. Hull. Reprinted, New York: Kelley, 1963.Google Scholar
  36. Rees, A. 1968. Economics. In International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, ed. D.L. Sills, New York: Macmillan, Vol. 4, 472–85.Google Scholar
  37. Robbins, L. 1932. An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. London: Macmillan. 2nd edn, 1935.Google Scholar
  38. Robbins, L.C. 1939. The Economic Basis of Class Conflict and Other Essays in Political Economy. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  39. Robinson, J.V. 1933. The Economics of Imperfect Competition. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  40. Samuelson, P.A. 1955. Economics. 3rd edn, New York: McGraw-Hill. 7th edn, 1967.Google Scholar
  41. Schumpeter, J.A. 1954. History of Economic Analysis. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  42. Senior, N.W. 1836. An Outline of the Science of Political Economy. London: Unwin Library of Economics, 1938.Google Scholar
  43. Smith, A. 1763. Lectures on Jurisprudence. Ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael and P.G. Stein, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, A. 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Steuart, J. 1767. An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy. Ed. A.S. Skinner, Edinburgh and London: Oliver & Boyd for the Scottish Economic Society, 1966.Google Scholar
  46. [Torrens, R.]1819. Mr Owen’s plans for relieving the national distress. Edinburgh Review 32, October, Article XI.Google Scholar
  47. Verri, P. 1763. Memorie storiche sulla economia pubblica dello sato di Milano. In Scrittori Classici Italiani di Economia Politica, Parte Moderna, Vol. XVII, Milan, 1804.Google Scholar
  48. Verri, P. 1771. Reflections on Political Economy. Trans. B. McGilvray, ed. P. Groenewegen. Reprints of Economic Classics, Series 2, No. 4, Sydney: University of Sydney, 1986.Google Scholar
  49. Young, A. 1770. Rural Oeconomy, or Essays on the Practical Parts of Husbandry. London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations