Popular Perceptions and Political Economy in the Contrived World of Harry Potter

34 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2005

See all articles by Avichai Snir

Avichai Snir

Bar Ilan University - Department of Economics

Daniel Levy

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics; Emory University - Department of Economics; Rimini Center for Economic Analysis

Date Written: December 22, 2005


Economic organization of the imaginary worlds depicted in popular literary works may be viewed as a mirror to public opinion on the economic organization of life. If a book becomes a best-seller, it is because the book conveys messages, feelings, and events the readers can relate to. In other words, the book's readers identify with the set of norms and rules that govern the development of the plot and the actions of its heroes. Therefore, a best seller, as a book that successfully relates to readers of its time, can teach us about the norms and beliefs of its audience. Following this line of thought, we use the method of deconstruction to analyze the highly successful J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series. Studying the books within their social context allows us to learn about people's norms and attitudes, and their perceptions of issues such as the role of government, the structure of financial markets, poverty and inequality, etc. Thus, by looking at the Potterian economy through magnifying glasses, we obtain a perspective on what people might view as a normal or perhaps as an ideal economic structure. In other words, we argue, that the economic and organizational structure of the imaginary Potterian economy can be viewed as an economic model. By studying the social and the economic structure of the Potterian model and its assumptions, we hope to obtain some insights on people's attitudes towards various social and economic issues. The Potterian economic model, we conclude, is not a coherent model that fits neatly one of the standard economic models. Instead, it appears to combine ingredients from various economic models.

Keywords: Political Economy, Social Attitude, Social Norm, Social Organization of Economic Activity, Perception, Harry Potter, Literature

JEL Classification: A13, A14, D73, P16, P48, Z11, Z13

Suggested Citation

Snir, Avichai and Levy, Daniel, Popular Perceptions and Political Economy in the Contrived World of Harry Potter (December 22, 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=817346 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.817346

Avichai Snir

Bar Ilan University - Department of Economics ( email )

Ramat-Gan, 52900
+972 3 736 0835 (Phone)
+972 3 535 3180 (Fax)

Daniel Levy (Contact Author)

Bar-Ilan University - Department of Economics ( email )

Ramat-Gan, 5290002
+972 3 531-8345 (Phone)
+972 3 738-4034 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.biu.ac.il/en/levy

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive, Suite 306
Rich Building
Atlanta, GA 30322-0001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://economics.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/Levydaniel.html

Rimini Center for Economic Analysis ( email )

Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Ave W.
Waterloo, Ontario N2L3C5

HOME PAGE: http://rcea.org/

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