Economics and Politics: Towards a Dialogue between Economics and Political Science


  • Hanspeter Kriesi

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Zurich
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Hanspeter Kriesi holds the Chair in Comparative Politics at the Department of Political Science of the University of Zurich. Previously, he has been teaching at the universities of Amsterdam and Geneva. He is a specialist of Swiss direct democracy, but his wide ranging research interests also include the study of social movements, political parties and interest groups, public opinion, the public sphere and the media. For eight years, he has been the president of the expert committee for the largest social science programme of the Swiss National Science Foundation and he is now the director of a Swiss national research programme on the “Challenges to democracy in the 21st century”.

Address for correspondence: Professor Dr. Hanspeter Kriesi, Institut für Politikwissenschaft Zürich IPZ, Seilergraben 53, CH-8001 Zürich, Tel: +41 (0)44 634′40′10; E-Mail:


In this essay, I present a sceptical point of view with regard to the introduction of the economists' models in political science. Based on examples drawn from the field of political behavior and public opinion research, I discuss the lack of realism and the limitation of the theoretical scope of the models the political scientists are expected to import. My discussion has no pretension of being original. By spelling out the unattractive implications of the narrow assumptions of the economists' theory of action for a political scientist working empirically, it rather attempts to contribute to the clarification of some of the impediments to an improved dialogue between the practitioners of the two disciplines which have long been divided by the theoretical approach of neoclassical economics.