COC

Economic Rights and Economic Justice in Economic Theory and Policy: An Introductory Note

Center of Concern | Sun, Mar 29, 1998

By Mariama Williams

As discussed in "What Are Economic and Social Rights," Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have been marginalized in the evolution of the international and national human rights system. The source of this marginalization can be traced to two historical socio-political processes: male and class biases in liberalism and the post World War II cold war dynamics. However, there is yet another very important reason (which is inextricably intertwined with the capitalism / communism split) behind the marginalization of economic rights. That force is the dominant (orthodox) economic analysis and economic policy. The analytical framework of orthodox economics has historically been a very exclusive and narrow discourse based on highly restrictive assumptions about human nature, the good life, the good society and the structures that must be created to ensure the optimal operations of that society. Within this framework discussions of economic and social rights have been ignored, marginalized or otherwise subsumed under narrow discussion of efficiency, productivity, economic liberty, property rights and corporate rights.

This paper was first published as, Williams, Mariama "Economic Rights and Justice in Economic Theory." Women's Economic and Social Rights, Brussels: WIDE, February 1998.