Political Economy

Political economy examines the relationships between economic and political structures, processes, and outcomes. Collectively, political economists analyze the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth in a society, with an emphasis on who gains and who loses depending on how those activities are arranged. As the name suggests, political economy's critical insight is that politics and economics are always intertwined, not two separate spheres. It thus encompasses everything from trade policies and economic growth to income inequality and poverty, and everything from wage levels and labor relations to spending on parks, infrastructure, public health, the military, and other major government responsibilities. Political economy has a long intellectual history with roots in the work of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and other thinkers who predate the separation of politics, economics, and geography into separate disciplines, and whose work still provides examples of integrative analyses of large-scale questions about how modern societies work. Geographers working in the tradition of political economy conduct research on a wide range of questions, ranging from the effects of neoliberal versions of political economic theory, to classic questions of social reproduction, national regional growth, trade, and industrial location, to the political economy of new markets in carbon and other environment-related topics. What they have in common is a strong interest in how economic and political structures and processes shape the geographies of our world.


Faculty with interests in issues of Political Economy are:

Brian King

Petra Tschakert

Melissa Wright