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February 16, 2011

La Salle University Economics Professor David George Honored by the Association for Social Economics

David George

La Salle University Economics Professor David George recently received the Thomas F. Divine Award from the Association for Social Economics (ASE). It is presented annually to an Association member who over a lifetime has made important contributions to social economics and the social economy.
This is the third time that George has been honored by the ASE.

In 2007, George received the ASE’s Ludwig Mai Service Award, presented to a person who has rendered exceptional service to the Association.  In 1989, he received the Association’s Helen Potter Award, presented each year to the author of the best article in the Review of Social Economy by a promising scholar of social economics.

“The late Dr. Joseph Flubacher, a La Salle graduate, was the senior member of University’s Economics Department when I was hired in 1979.  He was also an ASE member and supported my hiring in part because of his familiarity with my first publication that appeared in a 1978 issue of the association’s journal,” said George. “The ASE’s La Salle connection makes this award all the more gratifying.”

George had planned to seek a Ph.D., in psychology after earning his undergraduate degree in 1969, but he became interested in economics and, in his own words, “came up with an idea about irrational choice that I was eager to take further. It was this idea, ‘metapreferences,’ that forms the main thread in my most cited works. My main argument is that market forces are poor at creating the preferences that people would like to have.”

One other important experience for George was a business that his father and two uncles had in his native Michigan. It was a grocery store in Detroit, but as business became worse, one uncle left to became an accountant, and his father switched to work in management with the Pepsi-Cola Company. His other uncle still held onto the store but eventually needed to sell it. The deal, however, fell through, and on the very day the sale was to have taken place, George’s uncle collapsed and died in the store.

“I could not help but see some connection between my uncle’s untimely death and the heartlessness of the market economy,” said George. “The seeds were planted for my eventual gravitation into social economics. The competition that I would later come to see as practically revered by the economics profession was a competition that could create tragic situations. I found the advertising of the large supermarket chains insincere and the individualism encouraged by market forces unfortunate. I reached the conclusion that serving customers was not something that could be conflated with maximizing profits. The store’s failure may have been attributable to poor business skills, but I also began to see business success as less than perfectly compatible with humane and human relationships that we sought to have with our customers.”

He added that “my work falls out of the mainstream” approach to economics.

George is the author of the book, Pollution Preference: How Markets Create the Desires We Dislike (University of Michigan Press) and the forthcoming The Rhetoric of the Right: Language Change and the Spread of the Market (Rutledge Press).

George’s scholarship has been cited in 225 articles and books, chapters and articles including 11 law journals, four social science journals, two business ethics journals, and one philosophy journal.

“I am particularly proud of the citations outside of economics and in journals outside the U.S.,” he said. “Citations to my work have appeared in articles written in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, French, German, Hungarian, and Lithuanian.”

“I have long had to counter the stereotype of many that scholarship comes at the expense of teaching,” said George. “Contrary to the work done at highly specialized research institutions, my work has never been intended to be accessible only to narrow specialists. I integrate much of my research into my teaching.”

The Association for Social Economics was established in December 1941 in New York City. It was formed to advance scholarly research and writing about the great questions of economics, human dignity, ethics, and philosophy. Its members seek to explore the ethical foundations and implications of economic analysis, along with the individual and social dimensions of economic problems, and to help shape economic policy that is consistent with the integral values of the person and a humane community. Membership is open to anyone who affirms this purpose.