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This map depicts the spheres of influence of the three major British academic centers of economic thinking in the early 20th century: Cambridge (at top), Oxford (at left) and the London School of Economics (at right).



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Fulltime Tripos Examiners Alfred Marshall Lecturers

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[ How to Read this Graph ] [ The history behind the map ]

    All of the institutions associated with Cambridge are concentrated in the top of the graph; all those with Oxford are in the bottom left and all those with the London School of Economics (LSE) are in the bottom right. Individuals and other institutions are left to be pulled toward one or more of the three poles. This creates a plot showing the relative connectedness of figures to the three institutions. Because of the inherent selection bias, we should not be surprised that the majority of individuals are clustered around Cambridge. Still, it is striking how much more connected Cambridge was with the LSE as opposed to Oxford. Note also how the nodes representing the University of Manchester and John Hicks lie nearly in the middle of the graph and how a sizable corps of Tripos examiners came, in the words of D.H. Robertson, from the "stable of extravagant dogmatism" of the LSE (Hicks 1973, 4).

    For the first part of the 20th century, the Cambridge economics program was overseen by Alfred Marshall and his successors. Marshall sought to build economics at Cambridge into an analytical, model-based tool: a science that could be wielded with a degree of objectivity. Those studying at Oxford during the same period were in many cases more directly involved with social work. Inflected with the idealism of Oxford philosophy, elements of Oxford economics lent themselves more readily to practical applications of progressive social policy, often to the exclusion of theoretical model-based articulation. The LSE, founded in 1895 by Beatrice and Sidney Webb, originally sought to bridge the gap between progressive policy and theory, but by the 1930s had become increasingly analytical, mathematical, and populated by vehement believers in the free market. Though the three centers remained markedly distinct, by the 1950s, as dialog increased across the economics discipline, all three schools shared more methodological characteristics than ever before.