This paper discusses the limitations of the theory of the consumer, and of demand, which lies at the heart of mainstream economics. This paper seeks to explain why consumer theory evolved like this and, despite its narrowness and deficiencies, has expanded its scope of application both within economics and across other social sciences. The paper finally offers a broad sketch of an alternative approach to consumer theory, one that draws upon political economy that is necessarily interdisciplinary. The final section discusses some of the wider implications of developments in and around consumer theory for the nature and prospects of economics as a discipline.
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