Lane’s Market Experience in the Contemporary Market Economy
Economists are increasingly incorporating psychological insights about human motivations and needs into economic models to better predict the behaviour of market agents. So far, however, economics is still based on the often refuted principles of neoclassical economic theory. This thesis reviews the alternative market theory of a producer economy put forward by Robert E. Lane in his book ‘The Market Experience’. Lane argues that it is not income, but rather human development and satisfaction of life as-a-whole that a market’s contribution to human wellbeing should be judged by. In the producer economy, complex and meaningful work is seen as the market’s biggest source of human development and implicitly happiness. In response to his theory, this thesis analyses whether i) Lane’s producer economy would be a better predictor of the market’s contribution to a person’s wellbeing, and ii) whether it provides a superior alternative for the current criterion of neoclassical economic theory by which we judge markets. First, I argue that for some work can be a source of stress and anxiety and it is not obvious that work is the market’s biggest contributor to happiness. Secondly, the producer theory is not compatible with market forces, as Lane recognizes, and fails to provide us with a theoretically sound alternative economic theory.