Public Choice and the Notion of Creative Communities

History of Political Economy, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2010

See all articles by Steven G. Medema

Steven G. Medema

Duke University - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 15, 2009


The creative community within public choice analysis arose out of the establishment of what has become known as the “Virginia School of Political Economy” in the 1960s and 1970s. These efforts were reinforced through the move by Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) to build a department around a single sub-specialty, public choice, in the 1970s - to, in effect, apply the division of labor in a profession whose departments were attempting to be all things to all people. This effort provided the context in which a creative community could be established and, potentially, flourish. That public choice did flourish as a creative community did flourish at VPI can be accounted for by a variety of factors and forces. Yet, certain of these elements were also present at the University of Virginia a decade earlier, but a creative community did not develop there. This paper examines the evolution of public choice as a creative community, looking both at the reasons for the failure to establish this community at the University of Virginia and how the subsequent move to VPI allowed such a community to develop and flourish.

Keywords: Public choice, Virginia school, creative communities

JEL Classification: A12, B2, D7, H0

Suggested Citation

Medema, Steven G., Public Choice and the Notion of Creative Communities (September 15, 2009). History of Political Economy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Steven G. Medema (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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