The field of political-economy dates back at least as far as Adam Smith over 200 years ago. The early political-economists made the first systematic attempts to examine the interconnections between the emergence of the new industrial system -- which changed the way in which resources were produced and consumed -- and the advent of bourgeois democratic states -- which made critical decisions as to how those resources were to be distributed. Although the study of political-economy throughout the 19th century implied no particular political ideology, by the 20th century it came to be associated with radical critiques of society, especially by Marxists. And it is largely true that, until recently, only left-leaning social scientists and social workers in the U.S. discussed economics and politics as two inextricably related spheres of human activity.
Reisch and Wenocur, Stanley
The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 10
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol10/iss4/2