In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions T. S. Kuhn argues that the history of the natural sciences has been marked by periodic crises, when the dominant ‘paradigm’ is challenged, rejected, and displaced by a new paradigm. Since the paradigm's functions are both regulative and cognitive, this process has sociological as well as purely epistcmological aspects.
With the exception of the Keynesian revolution of the 1930's, there have been no phases of paradigm change in economics quite like those in the natural sciences. This is due mainly to the nature of economic paradigms (or ‘basic’ theories) which are less precise and less liable to falsification. ‘Critical anomalies’ and ‘crucial experiments’ do not arise in economics, as in the natural sciences; and yet the process of paradigm change may serve as an ideal type, which can be used to clarify the interrelationships between the terminological, conceptual, personal, and professional elements involved in the development of economic ideas, especially in such episodes as the emergence of classical (Ricardian) economics, the Methodenslreit, or the marginal utility revolution.