‘Aggregate demand’ and ‘interest aggregation’

After a fascinating comment by Faisal on my last post and my response to it, I thought another post was warranted to attempt to clear some conceptual fog that may have been created when I used terms such as desire and demand, which were further elucidated by Faisal in his comment.  I had used the term desire as it is used in the common parlance.  Now, different people may have different ideas about what it means to be ‘educated well’ and to be a ‘productive member’ of a given society or community.  These differences, I think, give rise to a set of political and not perhaps economic problems. In some communities I have worked with in the past, quality education simply meant becoming an obedient son or daughter and to learn religion.  Obviously, these preferences do not now figure as important in the secular countries.  In the countries not yet dominated by the tenets of secular nationalism, religious goals continue to be part of the larger set of the purposes of education.  Whatever may be the local notions of quality, the idea that Diane Ravitch put forth — the parents must want good education for their children and the government must be able to provide that good education — holds.  If parents want their children to become extremists and the government is turning them into moderates, that would be bad education from the parents’ perspective.  So purposes of education and definition of quality education is, I think, a political and not an economic issue per se.  The language of demand and aggregate demand, however, is certainly well entrenched within the discipline of economics and these terms need to be understood well in their disciplinary specificity before their full significance to the discussion can be grasped.  So the question of demand and aggregate demand re education reforms remains open for this forum, and it would be great if an economist–help, Faisal!!–could help direct us to sources to fully understand the application of these notions to the issue at hand.  Here I just wish to say that by conflating ‘desire’ with ‘demand,’ I may have used a language that needed further explanation and sorting.

Having said that, I would like to introduce another term here, which may also be germane to this conversation, the interest aggregation [ also see comparative politics today].  Interest aggregation is taken to be the activity in which the political demands of groups and individuals are combined into policy programs.  Will look at it in more detail later.  But any further thoughts? The question remains about understanding the individual desire for ‘quality education,’ the possibility that it may be in conflict with what the state and society might value as good education, and the ‘political’ aggregation of the desire to produce the sort of educational services that serves the society best.

About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts

2 Responses to “‘Aggregate demand’ and ‘interest aggregation’”

  1. Much food for thought here. I guess interest aggregation would need some sort of (Laclau’s) chain of equivalence so that different yet non-competing interests can comingle and aggregate. Getting such chain of equivalence to form and endure is a perennial challenge.


  1. Chain of equivalence | Just questions! - 20/06/2011

    […] response to my post on ‘interest aggregation,’ Ajay Sharma wrote the following: I guess interest aggregation could need some sort of […]

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