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Chicago School

  The Chicago School generally refers to social thought first developed at the University of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in the fields of economics, sociology and to a lesser degree political science.

In economics, the Chicago School, presently identified with writers like Gary Becker, Milton Friedman and George Stigler, is best known for its hostility to Keynesian economic policy, enthusiasm for monetarism and endorsement of laissez faire economics. Members of the Chicago School believe that economists should work with the assumption that individual behaviour is governed by rational decision-making (see democracy); make deductions based on this assumption; and test the merits of predictions based on this assumption. The predictions not the assumptions are open to testing. Exponents of the school have employed this method to topics previously considered outside the heartland of economics: like the demand and supply for marriage, crime and racism. The Chicago School has had an intermittent impact upon public policy, providing the back-up for New Right assaults on administrative discretion and the embracing of monetary policy as the sole means of controlling inflation. Today the doctrines of the School are looked on with a more sceptical eye in the UK and the US.

The Chicago School in sociology was influenced primarily by the work of Robert Park, Ernest Burgess and their colleagues who acted as mentors to a host of graduate students researching aspects of urban life in Chicago. They produced pioneering analyses of phenomena such as urban ecology, based on the application of behavioural studies of social process and symbolic interactionism.

The Chicago School of political science is primarily associated with the work of Charles E. Merriam and Harold Gosnell on political power, and especially voting behaviour. They drew heavily on the social psychological approach of Harold Laswell. The rigorous adaptation of political opinion polling and attitude surveys originated at Chicago, and represented the successful merger of methodological and conceptual approaches from psychology, sociology and economics. BO\'L

See also behaviouralism.Further reading M. Bulmer, The Chicago School of Sociology; , M. and R. Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom; , H. Simon, Charles E. Merriam and the ‘Chicago School’ of Political Science.



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