California Dreamin’: Economists Become Expert Epistemologists for Platform Capitalism 

We warmly invite you to our October ReSES ID Seminar with a talk by Edward Nik-Khah. In this talk, Nik-Khah discusses platform capitalism and the production of economic knowledge by tech economists in platform firms. Béatrice Cherrier will give a commentary of the talk, and there is time also for open discussion.

Event: ReSES ID Seminar  
Speaker: Edward Nik-Khah (Roanoke College)
Title of the talk: California Dreamin’: Economists Become Expert Epistemologists for Platform Capitalism
Discussants: Béatrice Cherrier (CNRS & CREST, Ecole Polytechnique)
Time: 11th October 2023, 16:00-18:00
Place: Online via Zoom

Please send an email to to receive the Zoom link.


The platform firm has emerged as one of the most important yet underappreciated sites for the production of economic knowledge. This paper seeks to address this omission by examining the work performed by a newly christened group of “tech economists” under the auspices of these firms. It situates their work within the larger history of economists’ engagements with information processing. Economists wishing to grapple with the computer would previously ally with the military. Now they would ally with the platform firm. This newest chapter in economists’ attempts to engage with the computer would follow trends previously at work within the profession as economists would increasingly accept an understanding of markets as purpose-built, algorithmic “person-machine systems.” Their concomitant responsibilities would require economists to attune their work to the platform business model. 

About the speakers

Edward Nik-Khah is Professor of Economics at Roanoke College. He has been a Research Fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University and at the Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University. He is the author of The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information (Oxford University Press, 2017), written with Philip Mirowski and Markets (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), written with Armin Beverungen, Philip Mirowski and Jens Schröter. His previously completed research has addressed such topics as the history of information, the political economy of science, neoliberalism, and market design; for his work on market design, the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy awarded him the K. William Kapp Prize. His current research explores the mobilization of intellectual and political forces dedicated to the rollout of the platform into medicine, and the participation of economists in the design and deployment of governance by algorithm.

Béatrice Cherrier is a historian of Economics at CNRS and CREST, Ecole Polytechnique, in France. She researches and teaches the history of the applied turn in economics from the 1970s onwards. This has led her to investigate the development of economics in engineering-oriented universities, the status of women in the economics profession, the uses of models in policy spheres, in particular central banks, and the epistemologies and computational practices developed in specific subfields (urban, public, macro, growth and environment, market design).


This is the 6th event in our ReSES ID Seminar series, which is a part of the Rethinking the Serviceability of Economics to Society project (funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation). At every ReSES ID Seminar, attendees can expect a central presentation, succeeded by a discussion facilitated by a designated commentator. The audience is encouraged to participate and offer their questions and comments. We welcome anyone interested in these subjects to join us and engage in valuable discussions and reflections. Students, in particular, are cordially invited to attend, and we look forward to their presence.

  • Taking Responsibility for Climate Change

    ReSES – Rethinking the Serviceability of Economics to Society warmly invites you to an exciting event that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, focusing on the critical intersection of ethics, economics, and politics in addressing the global challenge of climate change. Speakers: Date: Friday 26 April 2024Time: 16:15 – 18:00 Location: Think Lounge, Tiedekulma, Yliopistonkatu 4, 00100 HelsinkiOnline…

    Read more

Contact us

via email


Follow us