Up to now, economics as a branch of social science has been concerned mainly to map the commercial and financial relations of Humanity, including a wide variety of institutions spawned to sustain livelihoods within these relations. Although these relationships, qua relations, are by definition intangible, the forms by which these relations are expressed – and in which they may even be quantified, predicted and managed – are all tangible. Thus we arrive at the tantalising paradox wherein, for economists, tangibles seem to occupy the entire space of interest, even though that which has given rise to their very field in the first place are actually social relations that remain utterly intangible.
Always and everywhere, the tangible is also quantifiable. However, lifting this veil uncovers something very strange. To the extent that tangible economic activity takes quantifiable form, it is possible to generalise about the forms themselves and-or to verify them, without reference to any further information as to the intent, conscience or consciousness of those who gave rise to these activities in the first place. This elimination of “subjective factors”, such as intention, was long trumpeted as the economists’ greatest success (as social “scientists”). This book presents the many quintessential elements of economics from all around the globe.