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There is, incidentally, nothing particularly surprising about the fact that conventional orthography is, as these examples suggest, a near optimal system for the lexical representation of English words. The fundamental principle of orthography is that phonetic variation is not indicated where it is predictable by general rule.
Phonetic behavior and the resulting acoustic signals are continuous dynamic phenomena. The various phonetic gestures involved in speech production overlap and have no abrupt onsets and offsets. Yet it is generally assumed that phonological structures (phonological forms, phonological representations) underlying speech consist of linear sequences of discrete, static segments. This implies that phonological structures would be structurally similar to strings of alphabetic letters. Such letters are in fact used as phonological notation.
The use of alphabetic writing as the metalanguage of phonology is something which may be assumed to have a significant impact on our theories of phonological structure. Before going on to a discussion of this matter, we should notice, however, that not only the abstract, underlying phonological structure of words is notated by means of discrete graphic symbols. We also use more "concrete" representations of the pronunciations of words and utterances, so-called (narrow) phonetic representations, which are likewise couched in a (modified) letter notation. This means, in all probability, that our view regarding phonetic structure is also influenced by the outer form of this written metalanguage. In any case, it would be utterly naive to believe that phonetic transcriptions, no matter how "narrow" they are, are some kind of mechanically computable, "objective" representations (or reflections) of the phonetic signals. On the contrary, they are the result of a conventional transformation of speech into writing and we need have access to implicit (conventional) rules in order to be able to convert them "back" into speech. It seems probable "that our lack of knowledge of what we are doing when we make phonetic transcriptions is actually hampering our own work as descriptive linguists".
The phonemic principle and the idea of the double articulation of spoken language are probably historically dependent on the existence of alphabetic writing. Thus, if the continuous and varying stream of behavior has to be notated in writing, there arises a need for an economic set of discrete signs, e.g. letters or other symbols (such as pictures). Therefore, a practical notational system presupposes an analysis in terms of segments of some sort. The next step in the argumentation implies that these segmental units are not only workable units of analysis, they are in fact inherent properties of the subject matter; hence phonologists discovered that there were in fact segments underlying overt behavior.
It would be stupid to deny that the idea of underlying segments has some kind of basis in speech production and perception. First of all, the drive towards categorization applies to the perception of speech as well. For this and other reasons patterns and routines are developed also in speech production, the same motor elements tend to be used in the articulation of all words in the language. There insubstantial evidence for units like syllables, syllabic constituents (onsets, nuclei, offsets), vowels and consonants as units of production; common slips of the tongue (such as) 'spictly streaking' for 'strictly speaking', 'strunction and fucture' for 'structure and function', 'lawn drawn' for 'line drawn' are but one type of evidence. Nevertheless, it is no doubt true that writing and the ability to read and write enhance our experience of speech as being composed of segments. What is at stake here is not the general idea that vowels and consonants are components of speech, but rather the much stronger hypothesis inherent in most phonological theories, i.e. that the phonological structure of a word is just a linear sequence of non-overlapping segments. Fowler formulates the basic point of this "strong segment theory" like this:
"Segments in a planned sequence are discrete in the sense that (abstractly stated), their boundaries are straight lines perpendicular to the time axis, so that the terminus of one segment is the beginning of the next segment".
According to mainstream phonological theory, each segment is a bundle of simultaneous features. Such a segment sequence is a basically spatial (rather than temporal) organization of thing-like phonological units arranged in a before-after sequence analogous to the left-right sequences of conventional orthography and conventional phonetic notation. In an extreme version, this theory excludes the possibility that supra-segmental features and syllable structure are phonologically significant.
If the phonologist's view of phonetic structure is influenced by the perspective formed by alphabetic writing, this is true of the layman's thinking about speech to an even greater extent. Aside from the fact that sounds (phonemes) and letters are hopelessly mixed up in the linguistic thinking of most laymen, it is clear that writing distorts our phonetic intuition and make us deaf to certain phonetic realities, notably those which have no counterpart in common orthography.
Past, present and future of the media audience
The origins of the present-day audience for mass media are presumably to be found in the public theatrical and musical performances as well as games and spectacles of ancient times. Greek and Roman cities of any size would have a theater or arena for such purposes. No doubt these were preceded by various kinds of more informal gatherings for similar purposes. The significance of the Greco-Roman invention lies in heralding numerous features of present-day media audiences, especially:
• the planning and organization of viewing and listening
• the public character of the events
• the secular content of performance and display — the main purpose was enjoyment, entertainment and education
• the voluntary and individual acts of choice involved in attending.
According to this view, the audience, as a set of spectators for public events of a secular kind, was already institutionalized more than two thousand years ago, with its own customs, expectations and rules about the time, place and content of performances, conditions for entry, etc. It was a typically urban phenomenon, often with a commercial basis and with a differentiation of content based on differences of class and status. The audience was one element in a larger institution, which included professional writers, performers, producers and entrepreneurs. The phenomenon of public entertainment and display attracted sponsorship, could serve political ends and was an object of public surveillance.
Several features, nevertheless, distinguish the early form of audience from the modern media equivalent. Most important is the fact that the original audience was localized in one place and time — they were the occupants of the 'auditorium', the space in which they could hear and see what was going on. Their interlocutors spoke directly to them, and performances were always 'live' and open to view. This means that the audience was always relatively small (though it could be many thousands) and also potentially active within itself and interactive with performers. The original audience had a potential collective life of its own. These same conditions still prevail in many circumstances of public display and spectatorship — in theaters, stadiums, race-tracks, etc. What has happened is not really a continuous development from an early form to that of the media audience, but the social invention of a new variant, which overlaps with the earlier 'audience' and borrows its name, sometimes with misleading results.
The rise of a reading public
The line of development of the media audience was based on a new invention — the printed book — and along with it the phenomenon of a reading public. The printing of books, starting in the mid-fifteenth century, gradually led to an organized arrangement for the supply of non-religious written texts which could be bought by individuals and were used for practical purposes as well as for instruction, entertainment and enlightenment. Only by the late sixteenth century does it make much sense to speak of a reading public in the sense of a set of individuals keen and able to buy, read and collect books for their private purposes. Such publics were localized in cities and states, limited by social class and language (although served by translations), and supplied by a growing number of printer-publishers and authors, sometimes supported by sponsors and patrons.
Within a larger literary cultural institution, the reading public became identifiable as those who could and did read books and followed the work of particular authors or on particular subjects. Its emergence was a very gradual and slow process, extending from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The book was not the only print form involved, since from at least the early eighteenth century many periodical magazines and newspapers were also likely to have a regular following. The print media industry was large and ramifying and also in many places the object of censorship or control. In advance of the nineteenth-century inventions which made printed media products cheap and plentiful, the reading public or audience for printed matter was already subject to a variety of divisions and social definitions, especially with reference to content (genres) and social categories of reader.
The use of the term 'audience' to refer to these different sets of readers, with its implication of shared social and mental space, is not so inappropriate, even if the boundaries of physical space were largely broken. It was possible to belong to an 'audience' (a circle of listeners) for a certain author or for a particular topic or set of ideas without belonging physically to a particular social group or being in a particular place (the city, for instance).
This view of the early audience was soon made obsolete by a series of changes of technology and society, especially by the great increase in urban population, improved land communications and increasing literacy, together with other social and economic changes which had, by the end of the nineteenth century, transformed the rather small world of book and periodical production into large-scale industries serving millions. These media industries sought to recruit and shape audiences according to their own plans and interests. In tum this helped to establish the concept of the audience as an aggregate defined by its preferences and social-economic standing and also as a paying public — a new consumer market.
The nature of marriage
Quite apart from its abstract meaning as the social institution of marriage, "marriage" has two distinct meanings: the ceremony by which a man and woman become husband and wife or the act of marrying, and the relationship existing between a husband and his wife or the state of being married 1. This distinction largely corresponds with its dual aspect of contract and status.
Marriage as a Contract.- In English law at least, marriage is an agreement by which a man and woman enter into a certain legal relationship with each other and which creates and imposes mutual rights and duties. Looked at from this point of view, marriage is clearly a contract. It presents similar problems to other contracts—for example, of form and capacity; and like other contracts it may be void or voidable. But it is, of course, quite unlike any commercial contract, and consequently it is sui generis in many respects. In particular we may note the following marked dissimilarities:
Marriage as Creating Status.—This second aspect of marriage is much more important than its first. It creates a status, that is, "the condition of belonging to a particular class of persons [i.e., married persons] to whom the law assigns certain peculiar legal capacities or incapacities" 1.
In the first place, whereas the parties to a commercial agreement may make such terms as they think fit (provided that they do not offend against rules of public policy or statutory prohibition), the spouses' mutual rights and duties are very largely fixed by law and not by agreement. Some of these may be varied by consent; for example, the spouses may release each other from the duty to cohabit. But many may not be altered; thus the wife may not contract out of her power to apply to the court for financial provision in the event of divorce.
Secondly, unlike a commercial contract, which cannot affect the legal position of anyone who is not a party to it, marriage may also affect the rights and duties of third persons. Thus a husband has an action against anyone who by committing a tort against the wife thereby deprives him of her consortium, and it is not open to the tortfeasor to argue that the marriage is res inter alios acta.
Definition of Marriage.—The classic definition of marriage in English law is that of Lord Penzance in Hyde v. Hyde6.
"1 conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may ... be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."
It will be seen that this definition involves four conditions.
First, the marriage must be voluntary. Thus, as we shall see7, it can be annulled if there was no true consent on the part of one of the parties.
Secondly, it must be for life. If by marriage "as understood in Christendom" Lord Penzance was referring to the view traditionally taken in Western Europe by the Roman Catholic Church and some other denominations, his statement is of course unexceptionable. But it does not mean that by English law marriage is indissoluble: divorce by judicial process had been possible in England for over eight years when Hyde v. Hyde was decided. The gloss put on the dictum by the Court of Appeal in
Nachimson v. Nachimson8 —that it must be the parties' intention when they enter into the marriage that it should last for life—is unsatisfactory. If, say, two people enter into a marriage for the sole purpose of enabling a child to be born legitimate, intending never to live together but to obtain a divorce by consent at the earliest opportunity, it cannot be doubted that their union is a marriage by English law. The only interpretation that can be put on Lord Penzance's statement is that the marriage must last for life unless it is previously determined by a decree or some other act of dissolution9. If one may draw an analogy (perhaps not very happy) from the law of real property, marriage must resemble a determinable life interest rather than a term of years absolute.
Thirdly, the union must be heterosexual.
Fourthly, it must be monogamous. Neither spouse may contract another marriage so long as the original union subsists.
Leaving aside the obvious about A-to-B and wheels versus wings, the defining development of travel today is that the sheer volume of travelers, combined with the extraordinary amount of choice in terms of how to travel, means that there is a lot more to travel than simply getting somewhere. Now more than ever, most forms of travel involve a certain degree of self-definition - travelers have to decide just what kind of experience they want, or what kind of people they want to be for the duration of the journey.
Only an airline could get away with the blunt assertion that homo traveler comes in no more than three varieties (First, Business, and Economy). The most casual glance around any airplane will instantly show that the distinction is misleading. The back end of an airplane is as full of people traveling to make their living as the front end is full of business people taking it easy and living it up. The difference in pricing on airplane seats alone can mean that a full-fare, front-of plane passenger is spending ten times as much as a more parsimonious fellow-passenger seated somewhat nearer the tail fin. Of course, more often than not the "choice" in that case comes down to whether the individual or the company is paying; but even then there is a surprising degree of personal choice, otherwise the frequent-flyer program (FFP) would never have been invented. FFPs are an elegant form of bribery, and like most forms of bribery are intended to ensure that individuals do something they would otherwise not have done - in this case, stay loyal to one airline. To cynics, the very existence of FFPs is proof that there are better deals to be done on other airlines. Indeed, the advent of no-frills airlines shows that even business flyers are prepared to forgo their Air Miles, along with seat numbers and individual non-dairy creamer sachets, when the alternative is cheap, no-fuss flying.
A growing number of business people are eschewing the airplane altogether in favor of the new generation of high-speed trains that may have similar total journey times, but that allow a traveler to spend more of that time seated in front of a table on which a laptop actually fits. Even the hub system, the backbone of US and transatlantic flying, is being challenged by the advent of newer airlines, smaller regional airports, and Boeing's dream of smaller, faster, direct-flying airplanes called sonic cruisers. Millionaire Dennis Tito has gone one stage further in the redefinition of air travel by making space a destination for the fare-paying tourist. As fast as one branch of travel pushes into the new millennium in the Olympian search for further, faster, higher, so another kind of tourism grows, looking for a slower and more sedate means of pottering around the planet. Hence the flourishing cruise-ship culture, and even the reappearance of Zeppelins over Germany (currently offering pleasure jaunts over Lake Constance).
Meanwhile, back on earth, travelers with their feet on the ground are becoming increasingly aware that their passage through countries and countryside is achieved at the cost of a huge impact on the environment and on local culture. Historically one of the most fundamental arguments about the definition of travel has been the distinction between the traveler and the tourist. Travelers have always seen themselves as occupying the high ground here: the traveler being a more noble creature, heroic even, while the tourist is a herd animal and the result of a human form of mass production spewed from the maw of a giant industry (one of the world's biggest). In practice the line between traveler and tourist often seems to come down to the fact that other people are tourists and we ourselves are of course travelers.
One line of thought is that travelers are those who go to foreign lands or locations with a view to enjoying and even immersing themselves in their foreignness. Tourists, on the other hand, are looking for a change of scenery but expect to take their own familiar world with them, complete with its culture and creature comforts. It's an attractive definition, but one that fails to explain business travel. One of the defining hallmarks of business travel as an industry is its apparent dedication to cushioning the traveler not only from his or her surroundings, but also from fellow travelers and certainly, heaven help us, from the tourists. Incidentally, it's a curious fact, but never, and I mean never, do we hear of "business tourism," despite the number of conferences in any industry you care to choose that take place each year in Hawaii, Bangkok, or Bermuda, although companies' headquarters and management are based in Idaho or Ireland.
All of that is changing, however, as concepts such as adventure tourism and ecotourism come to the fore.
Adventure and activity tourism have arisen in response to the growing desire for travel to involve more than sun, sea, sand, and shopping. Today's travelers are scarcely content unless they are given the opportunity to windsurf, hike up hills, submerge themselves in scuba diving, or kayak till they drop. Once travelers visited such spots as Merida, Venezuela simply to see the Andes. Now Merida has been transformed into an adventure base where rock climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, and horse riding have shouldered their way on to the tourist agenda and into the local economy.
The Earth Summits at Rio and Kyoto have monopolized the news agenda. There is growing awareness of the fragility of the globe we trot, and individuals and industry alike are waking up to the need for tourism to be sustainable if we are to continue to enjoy travel in ten or twenty years' time. Ecotourism and ecotravel (the two words are used pretty much synonymously) is perhaps the clearest example of the way in which travel is now as much about self-definition as it is about transportation. In particular, ecotourism asks whether travelers prefer to see themselves as part of the problem or as part of the solution. It shifts the focus away from the idea of tourists taking their own culture with them, and instead seeks to turn them into a means of preserving the culture of somewhere else. True ecotourism entails education of locals and tourists alike, as well as economics that benefit and preserve the location in question. Fervent supporters of ecotourism would argue that it is the best hope we have for maintaining the ecology of threatened ecosystems, of ensuring that flora, fauna, and folk are all still there for future generations.
From the point of view of an observer of travel, it also brings about one of the biggest reversals in the nature of travel since Thomas Сook invented the package tour. Ecotourism educates the tourist. Ecotourism can even engage the tourist in work to survey and maintain the environment. Ecotourism transforms the tourist into a guardian of the globe. It has finally turned the whole traveler/tourist debate on its head by clearly handing the high moral ground to the tourist - a redefinition truly as fundamental as Mr Tito's brief foray beyond the drag of gravity.
Answering the Question: What Is Postmodernism?
This is a period of slackening - I refer to the color of the times. From every direction we are being urged to put an end to experimentation, in the arts and elsewhere. I have read an art historian who extols realism and is militant for the advent of a new subjectivity. 1 have read an art critic who packages and sells 'Transavantgardism' in the marketplace of painting. I have read that under the name of postmodernism, architects are getting rid of the Bauhaus project, throwing out the baby of experimentation with the bathwater of functionalism. I have read that a new philosopher is discovering what he drolly calls Judaeo-Christianism, and intends by it to put an end to the impiety which we are supposed to have spread. I have read in a French weekly that some are displeased with Mille Plateaux because they expect, especially when reading a work of philosophy, to be gratified with a little sense. I have read from the pen of a reputable historian that writers and thinkers of the 1960 and 1970 avant-gardes spread a reign of terror in the use of language, and that the conditions for a fruitful exchange must be restored by imposing on the intellectuals a common way of speaking, that of the historians. I have been reading a young philosopher of language who complains that Continental thinking, under the challenge of speaking machines, has surrendered to the machines the concern for reality, that it has substituted for the referential paradigm that of 'adlinguisticity' (one speaks about speech, writes about writing, intertextuality), and who thinks that the time has now come to restore a solid anchorage of language in the referent. I have read a talented theatrologist for whom postmodernism, with its games and fantasies, carries very little weight in front of political authority, especially when a worried public opinion encourages authority to a politics of totalitarian surveillance in the face of nuclear warfare threats.
1 have read a thinker of repute who defends modernity against those he calls the neoconservatives. Under the banner of postmodernism, the latter would like, he believes, to get rid of the uncompleted project of modernism, that of the Enlightenment. Even the last advocates of Aufklarung, such as Popper or Adorno, were only able, according to him, to defend the project in a few particular spheres of life - that of politics for the author of The Open Society, and that of art for the author of Asthetische Theorie. Jurgen Habermas (everyone had recognized him thinks that if modernity has failed, it is in allowing the totality of life to be splintered into independent specialties which are left to the narrow competence of experts, while the concrete individual experiences 'desublimated meaning' and 'destructured form', not as a liberation but in the mode of that immense ennui which Baudelaire described over a century ago.
Following a prescription of Albrecht Wellmer, Habermas considers that the remedy for this splintering of culture and its separation from life can only come from 'changing the status of aesthetic experience when it is no longer primarily expressed in judgments of taste', but when it is 'used to explore a living historical situation', that is, when 'it is put in relation with problems of existence'. For this experience then 'becomes a part of a language game which is no longer that of aesthetic criticism'; it takes part 'in cognitive processes and normative expectations'; 'it alters the manner in which those different moments refer to one another'. What Habermas requires from the arts and the experiences they provide is, in short, to bridge the gap between cognitive, ethical, and political discourses, thus opening the way to a unity of experience.
My question is to determine what sort of unity Habermas has in mind. Is the aim of the project of modernity the constitution of sociocultural unity within which all the elements of daily life and of thought would take their places as in an organic whole? Or does the passage that has to be charted between heterogeneous language-games - those of cognition, of ethics, of politics - belong to a different order from that? And if so, would it be capable of effecting a real synthesis between them?
The first hypothesis, of a Hegelian inspiration, does not challenge the notion of a dialectically totalizing experience; the second is closer to the spirit of Kant's Critique of ludgement; but must be submitted, like the Critique, to that severe reexamination which postmodernity imposes on the thought of the Enlightenment, on the idea of a unitary end of history and of a subject. It is this critique which not only Wittgenstein and Adorno have initiated, but also a few other thinkers (French or other) who do not have the honor to be read by Professor Habermas - which at least saves them from getting a poor grade for their neoconservatism.
Significance of Russian Elections
The median Russian elector was born in the last days of Josef Stalin, a totalitarian leader in the mold of Ivan the Terrible. She or he came of age politically under Leonid Brezhnev, who reduced the intrusive pressures of Stalinism—but only to the extent that this did not undermine the Communist Party's monopoly of power. Thus, a "normal" political system for a middle-aged Russian is not a democratic polity but an authoritarian, unresponsive, and corrupt bureaucratic party-state that mobilizes its subjects to endorse it unanimously in elections without choice. The Gorbachev initiatives begun in the late 1980s came long after the completion of the initial political socialization of most Russians.
The elections analyzed here are not just another vote, as would be the case in an established democracy. Instead, they are ballots held in the course of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of a new state, the Russian Federation. This in turn has required the creation of a new constitutional regime. For the tens of millions of Russians who participated, the 1993 referendums and Duma election were evidence that the old authoritarian regime had gone; the second Duma election in 1995 confirmed this. But both ballots indicated significant electoral support for parties of dubious democratic commitment. The summer 1996 presidential election shows that the direction of change remains open.
The optimist can interpret the elections analyzed here as proof that Russia is now a democracy. But democratization is a lengthy process requiring fundamental changes in how a country is governed as well as in how governors are chosen. Many features of the relationship between the president and the Duma have yet to be resolved. The 1993 parliamentary challenge to the power of President Boris Yeltsin was resolved by the shelling of the parliament building. The big vote for Vladimir Zhirinovsky's slate of candidates in the December 1993 Duma election was a reminder that democratic parties are not the only parties competing for popular support in Russia. The vote in the 1995 Duma election for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Gennadii Zyuganov, its 1996 presidential candidate, raises fundamental questions about whether it is a party of reformed or old-style communists—or an unstable amalgam of both. A pessimistic interpretation of the record of Russian elections is that they show Western-style democracy is not, or at least not yet, suited to the country. When public opinion surveys ask Russian people this question, half say that they think democracy is incompatible with Russian traditions, a quarter disagree, and a quarter consider it difficult to answer.
The political system of the Russian Federation today meets two criteria for democratic elections: everyone has the right to vote, and there is free competition between and within parties. The two 1993 referendums showed that the era of coerced and unanimous voting has ended. When offered a choice between voting for and against government-endorsed policies, Russians have divided into three substantial but conflicting groups—pro, con, and abstainers. In the 1993 Duma election, no party won as many as one-sixth of the seats, and independents won the largest number of seats. In the 1995 Duma ballot, forty - three parties competed for votes, and an average of twelve candidates ran in each single-member parliamentary district. When the private opinions of the Russian people can be made public, the authorities can no longer pretend that "official" opinion defines public opinion, as it did in the days of the tsars and of the commissars.
Because democratization cannot be accomplished overnight, the Russian political system today is best described as transitional. It has yet to develop three characteristics necessary for a stable democracy. One condition is that no significant party favor an end to free elections. Yet each election has shown Russian politicians supplying a variety of alternatives to democracy—communist, nationalist, or some combination of both. Before an election, politicians debate not only who should win but also whether an election should be held at all.
A second condition for establishing democracy is acceptance of the rule of law. Political emergencies facing the new Russian Federation have been met by extraconstitutional acts, including the use of troops in Moscow as well as against a rebel movement challenging the state's authority in Chechnya. The transfer of valuable state assets into private hands as part of the introduction of the market has created a small number of dollar multimillionaires and an atmosphere of economic lawlessness in which a Russian-style mafia has flourished. Whatever their individual principles, the great mass of members of parliament are inexperienced in democratic politics. Those with most experience of party politics, starting with President Boris Yeltsin and his chief officials, learned their skills in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin's former press secretary, Vyacheslav Kostikov, described the effect thus: "Boris Nikolaevich does not have democratic convictions… His ideology—if you like, his friend, his concubine, his lover, his passion—is power. And everything that is outside the struggle for power is of much less concern to him".
Third, the coexistence of a president, prime minister, and parliament chosen in different ways in different years creates confusion about accountability to the electorate and about who has the best claim to democratic legitimacy. The first president, Boris Yeltsin, has responded by ruling through decrees as well as (or instead of) acts of parliament. Individually and collectively, members of the Duma are free to criticize the government in extravagant terms. But there are as yet no accepted conventions enabling the Duma to hold the prime minister and ministers accountable, as is the case in West European parliaments.
By comparison with postcommunist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia is a laggard. The first free competitive elections were held in the Russian Federation in 1993; in Central and Eastern Europe, they were held in 1990. Postcommunist political systems from Estonia and Poland to Hungary have demonstrated a readiness to change governments in response to votes in parliament and at national elections. When antidemocratic parties contest elections, they receive few votes, and there is widespread popular rejection of undemocratic alternatives. Russia lags behind its postcommunist neighbors because accountability to the electorate is weak and there is a significant supply and demand for undemocratic forms of government.
Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
Many economists specialize in a particular branch of the subject. Labour economics deals with problem of the labour market as viewed by firms, workers, and society as a whole. Urban economics deals with city problems: land use, transport, congestion, and housing. However, we need not classify branches of economics according to the area of economic life in which we ask the standard questions what, how, and for whom. We can also classify branches of economics according to the approach or methodology that is used.
Microeconomic analysis offers a detailed treatment of individual decisions about particular commodities.
For example, we might study why individual households prefer cars to bicycles and how producers decide whether to produce cars or bicycles. We can then aggregate the behaviour of all households and all firms to discuss total car purchases and total car production. Within a market economy we can discuss the market for cars. Comparing this with the market for bicycles, we may be able to explain the relative price of cars and bicycles and the relative output of these two goods. The sophisticated branch of microeconomics known as general equilibrium theory extends this approach to its logical conclusion. It studies simultaneously every market for every commodity. From this it is hoped that we can understand the complete pattern of consumption, production, and exchange in the whole economy at a point in time.
If you think this sounds very complicated you are correct. It is. For many purposes, the analysis becomes so complicated that we tend to lose track of the phenomena in which we were interested. The interesting task for economics, a task that retains an element of art in economic science, is to devise judicious simplifications which keep the analysis manageable without distorting reality too much. It is here that microeconomists and macroeconomists proceed down different avenues. Microeconomists tend to offer a detailed treatment of one aspect of economic behaviour but ignore interactions with the rest of the economy in order to preserve the simplicity of the analysis. A microeconomic analysis of miners' wages would emphasize the characteristics of miners and the ability of mine owners to pay. It would largely neglect the chain of indirect effects to which a rise in miners' wages might give rise. For example, car workers might use the precedent of the miners' pay increase to secure higher wages in the car industry, thus being able to afford larger houses which burned more coal in heating systems. When microeconomic analysis ignores such indirectly induced effects it is said to be
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