The panel addresses innovative strategies being designed and implemented to restructure economies and polities in the mid-20th c. The papers discuss the technical demands, novel forms of expertise and political imaginaries bound up with the sciences of planning and governing.
The promise of more effective, scientifically designed policy tools captured the imagination of politicians and economists across the globe in the mid-20th c. Heady debates over the relative value of markets and plans occupied some minds, while others proceeded to institutionalize economic planning as national mandate. Innovative approaches were proposed to improve policy, strategies that could only be realized if the proper tools and techniques could be designed to achieve the hopes invested in them. The papers in our panel analyze cases in which statisticians, economists and state officials grapple with the difficult task of designing alternative means of solving economic and political problems. As we will demonstrate, technical details were often foregrounded in these efforts for immediacy's sake, but restructuring collectivities was the long term goal. Presentations will discuss the various temporal horizons envisioned in planning, the search for labor's potential, the nature of belonging in new polities, models for testing the limits of uncertainty, and the creation of new forms of knowledge and expertise. The constitution of markets and the dynamics of finance have been given extensive treatment in Science Studies, but the extensive role of economic planning in government policy and business has been neglected. This panel is intended to draw more attention to the significance of planning as a scientific endeavor and as a major field of economic analysis.