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Joan Violet Robinson Biography

(1903–83), The Economics of Imperfect Competition, laissez-faire, An Essay on Marxian Economics, Economic Philosophy

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Rhode to Jack [Morris] Rosenthal Biography

British economist, born in Camberley, Surrey, educated at Girton College, Cambridge. She was one of the group of younger economists at Cambridge which was instrumental in staging the so-called Keynesian Revolution. Her first book, The Economics of Imperfect Competition (1933), launched an entire revolution of its own in thinking about the theory of the firm—but she later disowned it (as a wrong turning). She was successively a Fellow of Girton and of Newnham College, Cambridge, subsequently becoming Professor of Economics (1965). Never shy of controversy, Robinson took on cherished economic dogmas with a nearcrusading zeal, and to devastating effect; among her many targets were the textbooks of orthodox economics, certain converts to ‘Keynesianism’ in the post-war years she dubbed ‘bastard Keynesians’, aspects of Marxian economics, the marginal productivity theory of distribution, and the doctrine of laissez-faire. Among her massive published output are An Essay on Marxian Economics (1942), Economic Philosophy (1962), Freedom and Necessity (1970), and Aspects of Development and Underdevelopment (1979). Both when she was right and when she was wrong, Robinson's style often infuriated her adversaries.

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