Ricardo's discursive demarcations

A Foucauldian study of the formation of the economy as an object of knowledge


  • Guus Dix Maastricht University, The Netherlands




David Ricardo, political economy, objects of knowledge, Michel Foucault, discursive demarcations, markets, governmentality


Set against previous attempts to grasp the work of British political economist David Ricardo on a theoretical and methodological level, this article explores the emergence of the 'economy' in Ricardo's Principles of political economy and taxation (1817) from a Foucault-inspired perspective on the formation of objects of knowledge. Several distinctions (or 'discursive demarcations') are brought to the fore with which Ricardo sought to determine the boundaries of political economy, such as that between natural economic processes and artificial interventions; between long-term and short-term trends; or between different kinds of conflict. Taken together, the discursive demarcations examined in this article contribute to the formation of the 'economy' as an object of knowledge, make specific theories possible, and enable the use of a particular method.

Author Biography

Guus Dix, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Guus Dix is lecturer in social philosophy at the Faculty of the Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University. He studies, from a Foucauldian perspective, the mutual reinforcement of the production of social scientific knowledge about individuals and groups and the practices and institutions in which they are governed. In his dissertation Governing by carrot and stick: a genealogy of the incentive, he explored the development of the ‘incentive’ as an object of knowledge and as a technique of power from the end of the 19th until the beginning of the 21st centuries.




How to Cite

Dix, G. (2014). Ricardo’s discursive demarcations: A Foucauldian study of the formation of the economy as an object of knowledge. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 7(2), 1–29. https://doi.org/10.23941/ejpe.v7i2.165