Between Lévi-Strauss and Braudel: Furtado and the Historical-Structural Method in Latin American Political Economy

Journal of Economic Methodology, vol. 22, 2015

42 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2014 Last revised: 16 Aug 2014

Date Written: June 1, 2014

Abstract

The methodology of Latin American economic structuralism has been generally interpreted as an implicit extension of classic French structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss and others, without careful examination of the methodological pronouncements of Latin American economists and social scientists. The present paper provides a detailed treatment of how Latin American structuralist methodology was formed between the 1950s and 1970s, with emphasis on Celso Furtado’s views. Furtado was influenced by both C. Lévi-Strauss’s and F. Braudel’s apparently incompatible approaches to structure and history. Furtado’s suggested combination of structure and history was based on the use of economic models to interpret successive historical structures, plus the development of the notion of creativity as a link between structures and processes. It differed in some important aspects from the “historical-structural method” usually associated with other Latin American authors such as Sunkel, and Cardoso & Faletto, which was built on existentialism and dialectics.

Keywords: Celso Furtado, structuralism, historical-structural method, Latin American political economy

JEL Classification: B20, B31, B41

Suggested Citation

Boianovsky, Mauro, Between Lévi-Strauss and Braudel: Furtado and the Historical-Structural Method in Latin American Political Economy (June 1, 2014). Journal of Economic Methodology, vol. 22, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2392867 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2392867

Mauro Boianovsky (Contact Author)

Universidade de Brasilia ( email )

Brasilia, DF 70910-900
Brazil

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