Global Economy and Development

Close analysis of a Theoretical Text

An explication is a “close reading” or detailed analysis of a text. Choose one of the major authors we have read so far—Gilpin, whom you think best helps you to understand the current Covid-19 crisis and its relation to the global economy. Writing a clearly-argued essay, explain why your chosen thinker best helps us understand the relationship between crisis, politics, and economic life. In your essay, you should explain the main argument of the text and critically analyze its relevance for understanding how and why Covid-19 has been a force for upending and disrupting the forces of global capitalism. Your assignment is to write a well-integrated essay that makes an argument of your own. Your analysis should not primarily paraphrase the author’s arguments, nor should you paste together several different interpretations and expect them to cohere. You should aim instead to demonstrate your ability to offer a careful textual analysis that shows how you interpret a theoretical argument.

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Robert Gilpin, “The Neoclassical Conception of the Economy,” ch. 3 in Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order, pp. 46-76

Format: For this assignment you are required to distill and employ in original analysis a set of concepts, theoretical arguments, and substantive materials you have drawn out from your interpretation of your chosen theoretical text. You are not asked to do extensive secondary research, beyond carefully reading the assigned text. You should be careful about the organization of your paper. Make sure that you do all of the following:
1. In the introduction and the conclusion, provide a clear statement of your thesis addressing why this text helps us to understand the Covid-19 crisis.

2. Clearly specify core concepts (e.g., the definitions or features of key terms and concepts that are important to your argument.) Consider both the rhetorical and critical analytical moves made by the author to set up the argument at hand. What are the narrative appeals made, to what kind of audience? What is the structure of the argument? What are the substantive ideas of the text? Is the author writing or arguing against a traditionally held assumption, and if so, how does he/she set up a critique of that conventional narrative? What are the conceptual shifts or trajectories of the argument through which he/she achieves this argument? Consider how a historical shift (e.g. in Polanyi, of the shift from the failures of the Great Depression to the World War) might be reflective of deeper ideological and societal shift in perceptions of global capitalism. The body of your essay should both trace the argument’s flow and organize these conceptual shifts thematically. Each paragraph should have a clear thematic goal or object of analysis.

3. Draw explicitly on the chosen theorist to develop and bolster your arguments. I cannot stress more emphatically how important it is that you move slowly through a close reading of quotes and passages. Employ quotes from the text to back up your interpretation, but do not expect the meaning of the quote to be self-evident. In political theoretic texts, dense, rich writing is often difficult to understand and requires analysis. Show how you understand the quote you use by taking apart its words carefully and analyzing what they mean. For example: what specifically does Polanyi mean by the “self-regulating market” when he writes that man engages in a “veritable faith in man’s secular salvation through self-regulating market” (141)? What does he mean when he calls economic liberalism an “organizing principle” (141)? As you explain the meaning of the quote, you may pull in other parts of the text to back up your interpretation, but remember that that particular passage itself should do most of the work. Tease apart the specific meanings of those words, and then show how this piece of evidence explicates your broader argument.

4. Provide citations when drawing on written materials. The relevance of the supporting evidence and analysis should be made apparent to the reader; that is, don’t just cite materials for the sake of citation but instead put the materials to work in your analysis.

5. Organize your paper so that the thesis is clear and well supported through logical exposition and thoughtful application to the argument you are making. This thesis should, in every paragraph of your essay, move your argument forward by applying your chosen thinker to the current political economic situation in the US or globally.

6. Have a clear conclusion that connects your overall analysis back to your thesis. Ultimately, does the text successfully explain the relationship between politics and economics? How does it achieve its argument? Where does it fail? Where does it help us understand the current moment, and where might it falter? Be clear in your final analysis about how the article has allowed you to understand the Covid-19 situation better.

In this essay you must demonstrate that you understand the core arguments made by the theorist(s) you read, and that you are able to engage those arguments using your own perspective with close textual analysis.

What you are asked for are the following:
1. A clear introduction and statement of your analytical thesis.
2. A demonstration that you can analyze a key text in political theory and offer your own perspective on the theoretical argument(s) it makes.
3. Appropriate use of textual evidence to support your analysis
4. Correct citations.
5. An essay that is well-organized, and well-edited, and that clearly presents a logical, coherent analysis.

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