Economics is the go-to explanatory science of today. Want to know why some ideas become laws? We tend to assume they’re economically efficient, ie their benefits outweigh their costs. Ditto for understanding why some programs, groups or products succeed while others fail. Anthropologist Janine Wedel has spent her career looking at the extra-economic drivers of power in the world–networks of people with overlapping agendas who may be acting against the public interest. Wedel calls these people flexians and using databases and networking software she traces their influence in politics, government, and business. Here’s an article I did about her work for Pacific Standard.

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