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The Promise and Pitfalls of Markets

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number IDSEM-UG1771
Section 001
Instructor Ngina Chiteji
Days F
Time 11:00 AM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



In his classic text, the  Wealth of Nations , the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith argued that the human propensity to "truck, barter and exchange" would naturally lead to socially optimal outcomes if people were left to trade freely, without any government interference in markets. This idea that a competitive market can lead to efficient outcomes is a central tenet of economic theory today. Moreover, the more general belief that markets know what's best is widely held throughout U.S. society. This course is designed to teach students about what economics has to offer to the analysis of markets and the ways that firms make decisions. It also will include analyses of market outcomes from scholars in disciplines outside economics,  and   some   discussion of firms' ethical obligations .  In its exploration of these topics, the course draws largely on disciplines such as economics, sociology, moral philosophy, and the law.  Readings may include texts such as the following: Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich,  Winner-Take-All Markets by Robert Frank, and The Globalization Paradox by Dani Rodrik .


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)