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Dramatic changes in the funding of science over the past two decades have stimulated a huge literature trying to set out an "economics of science". Whether broadly in favour or against these changes, the vast majority of these frameworks employ ahistorical analyses that cannot conceptualise, let alone address, the questions of "why have these changes occurred?" and "why now?" Nor, therefore, can they offer much insight into the crucial question of future trends. These are significant gaps in our understanding of important contemporary social processes. This book, the first of two volumes, argues that the fundamental underlying problem in all cases is the ontological shallowness of these theories, which can only be remedied by attention to ontological presuppositions. Conversely, a critical realist approach affords the integration of a realist political economy into the analysis of the economics of science that does afford explicit attention to these crucial questions. Accordingly, the book sets out an introduction to the existing literature on the economics of science together with novel discussion of the field from a critical realist perspective. The latter thus not only makes an important contribution to the discussion, but also affords critical comparison of existing approaches with the insights available to a critical realist economics of science; insights, moreover, that offer the resolution of some crucial ongoing arguments.