JEL-classification codes were created by Journal of Economic Literature. They are now widely used in economics.




“ Political economy

A branch of science concerned with the production of commodities and the accumulation of wealth. ‘Political Economy’ was used prior to the 20th century, (when the term ‘Economics’ supplanted it); for its earliest exponents such as William Petty and Adam Smith, Political Economy was a branch of Ethics. With the growth of positivism in the 19th century, however, Political Economy, like Sociology, came to be seen as a branch of science.

                      The British pioneers of Political Economy contributed much to the development of Hegel's views in that they showed the relation between human thinking and social relations and how these social relations developed through specific historical stages related to the progress of techniques of production. After the completion of his earliest investigations, Marx concentrated the majority of his theoretical work on the critique of political economy because Marx saw that the work of the political economists most clearly exhibited the ideological forms which dominated bourgeois society: explaining the science of economics through the perspective of the large and small scale capitalist, not through the perspective of the working class.

                      Bourgeois ideology reifis human activity into separate branches of science, philosophy and so on, whereas for Marxism, it is essential to understand human life as a whole. Marx explained the relation between political economy and ethics:

                      “It stems from the very nature of estrangement that each sphere applies to me a different and opposite yardstick - ethics one and political economy another; for each is a specific estrangement of man and focuses attention on a particular field of estranged essential activity, and each stands in an estranged relation to the other. ... the opposition between political economy and ethics is only an apparent opposition and just as much no opposition as it is an opposition. All that happens is that political economy expresses moral laws in its own way”. (Karl Marx)

                      The point is that political economy does not describe immutable laws that govern humanity, or rather they only appear so, so long as people continue to participate in the forms of production, distribution and exchange on which they are based. “ (Basgen & Blunden, 1999-2003).



"One of the most enduring concepts in the history of marketing thought relates to the classification of consumer goods. The product classification theory first proposed by Melvyn T. Copeland in 1923 has, with little modification, survived to the present day, and continues to be endorsed by both the American Marketing Association and the UK Chartered Institute of Marketing some 80 years after it was first published. In truth, Copeland’s classification is now outdated and bears little, if any, relevance to modern product advertising, retailing and consumption. In particular, it can not accommodate the fact that, in modern societies, consumer preoccupations with style, personal identity and status have meant that the social characteristics of goods, heavily promoted by brand managers who understand their markets, are key determinants of consumer choice and buyer behaviour. This article explores the reasons why product classification theory has been unresponsive to changes in market conditions over so many years and argues that its failure to embrace the many social influences on consumption and on consumer behaviour is now its most serious weakness. " (Mason, 2005).





[Basgen, B. & Blunden, A.] Political economy. IN: Encyclopedia of Marxism. Ed. By Basgen, B. & Blunden, A. Marxists Internet Archive. (1999-2003)  (Visited January 2004).


Bräuninger, Michael & Haucap, Justus (2003). Reputation and Relevance of Economics Journals, Kyklos, 56(2), 175-197.



Mason, Roger (2005). Missing links: Product classification theory and the social characteristics of goods. Marketing Theory, Vol. 5, No. 3, 309-322.


Mills, J. & Broughton, V. (1986): Bliss Bibliographical Classification. 2. ed. Class T: Economics. London: Butter­worth.





Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 16-09-2008