The notion of the representative consumer:
Around 1900 John Bates Clark introduced the mythical ‘representative consumer’, the idea that you can model the sector households as if it is one person, as well as the idea that the ‘social utility’ (his phrase) experienced by this entity is the ultimate standard of social welfare (emphasis added):
>”If each man could measure the usefulness of an article by the effort that it costs him to get it, and if he could attain a fixed unit of effort, he could state the utility of a number of different articles in a sum total. Similarly, if all society acts in reality as one man, it makes such measurements of all commodities, and the trouble arising from the fact that there are many measurers disappear. A market secures this result, for society acts as a unit—like an individual buyer (chapter XXIV.14).
Interestingly, the economist Charles E. Persons, citing the last sentence…
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