B&B: Debt is a social construction // Erasure of a black middle class // Miseducation and inequality // Neoliberal quantification in academia // Promoting democracy or “free market” ideas?

> “Debt is a social construction, fundamentally malleable, and what’s unmanageable must eventually be seen as immoral” — Olivia Schwob discusses the long history of debt cancellation and calls to consider taking this path, reflecting on excellent books on debt and credit: Bruce Mann’s Neighbors and Strangers: Law and Community in Early Connecticut and Republic of Debtors: Bankruptcy in the Age of American Independence, Philip Gura’s Man’s Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of Civil War, Louis Hyman Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink, David Graeber’s  Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and Strike Debt! movement’s Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual 

> Since the 1980s, the enemies of equal employment and upward mobility for blacks have been the corporate governance and maximizing Shareholder Value ideologies that smashed unionized jobs — by William Lazonick, Philip Moss, Joshua Weitz

> How does the class inequalities persists in education from the transition to secondary school up to university. Natasha Codiroli Mcmaster reviews and Diane Reay’s book that displays the personalisation of everyday working-class experiences and statistics on inequality —  Miseducation: Inequality, Education and the Working Classes

> Do you want to attend the most interesting and promising online talks and webinars on various topics in economic sociology and political economy from all over the world? So follow the ES/PE’s Facebook page and Twitter to have information about these events that is publicized only on our social media several days before each conference.

> How do new forms of digital and mobile money impact people’s everyday financial lives?  How do these technologies intersect with other financial repertoires as well as other socio-cultural institutions? How do they shape the global politics and geographies of  inequality? Smoki Musaraj and Ivan Small present their book (co-edited also by Bill Maurer) Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion, and Design

> Neoliberal quantification at work: When in 2010 universities incorporated citations in promotion decisions, scholars’ self-citation rates went up by 81-179%, reveals a paper “Self-citations as strategic response to the use of metrics for career decisions” by Marco Seeber, MattiaCattaneo, MicheleMeoli, and Paolo Malighetti (open access)

> Arjun Appadurai contends that one of problems of The Light That Failed: Why the West Is Losing the Fight for Democracy is Krastev and Holmes’ inattention to the US and West’s promotion of their economic interests in the Eastern Europe in the 1990s, making aid and trade conditional on accepting the “free market” ideas

> 740 Park Avenue, Manhattan, is home to the 1% of the 1%. Ten minutes to the north, half the population need food stamps. Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream is an excellent documentary (especially for teaching) about rocketing inequality in the US in the last 30 years (open access on Youtube)

debt credit history

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in BITS & BRIEFS | Leave a comment

Polanyi’s Prescience: Covid-19, Market Utopianism, and the Reality of Society

by Margaret Somers and Fred Block *

One of Karl Polanyi’s fundamental concepts is ‘the reality of society’, a term he uses in The Great Transformation (TGT) (Polanyi 1944/2001) to contest the idealised model of the autonomous self-regulating market. Modern economies, he argues, are comprised as much by ‘society’ – our collective social interdependence and political institutions – as they are by ‘market forces’. Polanyi’s concept is both descriptive and normative, macro and micro: at the micro level, not only are we inextricably socially interconnected so that each person’s actions affect the fates of unknown numbers of others; we are also ethically responsible for the far-reaching consequences of our own behaviours. And at the macro, really existing markets, even in a so-called ‘free-market’ regime, are fundamentally constituted by political power and civil society institutions.
The reality of society is Polanyi’s challenge to the two foundational assumptions of today’s market fundamentalism: One, that economic processes are driven by an aggregate of autonomous individuals, each of whom seeks to maximise his or her utility, and for whom freedom depends upon absolute independence and sovereignty. Two, that national prosperity is best served when organised through self-regulating global markets, free of governmental inefficiencies and perverse social conditionalities. If Polanyi’s nemesis in the first instance is Margaret Thatcher’s famous assertion that ‘There is no such thing as society…’, the second is today’s lean ‘just in time’ global supply chain system that invests only in a low-paid ‘flexible’ precariat, designed to avoid costly inventories by producing all commodities on the global cheap in response to immediate market signals, and in defiance of what public health professionals define as the vital social infrastructural needs and public goods essential to the long-term well-being of populations.
For Polanyi, these two precepts – radical individualism and a theology of the ‘self-regulating’ market-centred society – add up to what he calls a ‘stark utopia’. It is utopian because, like all utopias, market fundamentalism represents an imaginary ideal based not on actual human experience, but on a thought experiment. In this case, the ideal is a world dominated by the propertied, free of political, social, and democratic interference, and modelled on the make-believe symmetry between the laws of nature and the laws of the market. For Polanyi this is a fictional delusion. While they are made to appear ‘natural’ human economies are social and political institutions. And while capitalism treats people with the callousness of Thatcherites, in practice it knowingly exploits the care and mutual support people, by necessity, provide to each other.
It is also utopian because commodifying our vital social substances requires massive social and political engineering – the continuous exercise of political and economic power, which conflicts with the market’s claim to being ‘natural’. Among Polanyi’s greatest insights is that the alleged absence of state power in a free-market regime is chicanery. For while government ‘meddling’ in the interest of the public good is said to have perverse consequences, the government is very much the market’s accomplice-in-chief in redistributing wealth and income upward, as, for example, when taxpayers fund vital medical research which, under the guise of public-private partnerships, accrues private gain exclusively to pharmaceutical companies.
And finally, it is utopian because a self-regulating market can never be realised without destroying the society it aims to marketise. The market fundamentalist ideal requires that almost all the social and natural world be commodified and subject to the price mechanism. Yet it is only by removing certain social substances from the market that social life remains viable. The more widespread the commodification, the more destined it is to produce a dystopia that threatens the survival of humanity.
In The Great Transformation Polanyi explains how that dystopian nightmare erupted in the late 1920s and 1930s, first in a world-wide economic collapse that caused untold suffering, and then into fascism, which threatened the future of humanity. Today, Covid-19 has precipitated another global crisis: It has exposed the profound damage that market utopianism has imposed on our collective well-being, producing afflictions that have already taken the U.S. far down the road to dystopia.

Covid-19 has confronted the U.S. with two overwhelming challenges. One, how to contain its exponential spread across the population, and second, how to cope with the overwhelming strain on the nation’s flimsy healthcare system. More than anywhere else, the U.S. has failed spectacularly with each of these, and Polanyi can help us understand why: each of these failures maps precisely onto the micro and macro fault lines of market utopianism.
For forty years we have been told that human freedom depends on absolute autonomy unimpeded by other people or government; that taking risks is a personal matter; and that assuming individual responsibility for whatever suffering we endure is what makes us morally worthy. Pandemics make a mockery of this worldview. Contagion, by its very nature, thrives on the reality of social interconnectedness. So, in the effort to curb the spread, public health experts from the outset mandated a series of critical practices – repeated hand washing, no touching, hugging, or hand-shaking, social distancing, staying at home.
At first it appeared that ‘we’re all in this together’ had overtaken the folly of ‘I’m on my own’. But few would have predicted what happened when public health experts declared that mask-wearing in public settings is essential to stop the spread of the virus. Much to everyone’s surprise, this seemingly innocuous face covering exposed just how deadly is the claim that freedom lies in being only responsible for oneself. For the paradox of masks, like the reality of society, is both sociological and ethical. We wear them not to protect ourselves but to protect others from the airborne particles we may unknowingly transmit, just as others wear them to protect us. Masks, it turns out, embody the truth of Polanyi’s ethics of solidarity. Wearing them indicates a recognition that our de facto interconnectedness inevitably risks infecting others, and mask wearing expresses our understanding that we are implicated in the fates of all those around us.
The consequence has been an extended mask war between conflicting freedoms – the freedom from getting infected by others versus the ‘threat to individual liberty’ many claim its wearing imposes. In Flint, Michigan, a store employee was shot dead for asking a customer to wear a mask. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Trump gave a huge indoor rally, the state’s governor refused to require attendees to wear masks because he ‘didn’t want to take sides in a political debate’. In Nebraska, the governor passed an executive order denying critical funding to any municipalities that require mask wearing. A Montgomery, Alabama City Councilman voted against mandatory mask-wearing by declaring ‘[a]t the end of the day, if an illness or a pandemic comes through we do not throw our constitutional rights out the window’. Most prominently of all, and with a boastful defiance of what he calls ‘political correctness’, President Trump triumphantly models his mask-free virility by holding indoor political rallies, corralling thousands of his followers into congested assemblages where they shout and spew particles on one another, all the while celebrating their freedom to refuse masks.
Covid-19 has clearly precipitated a dramatic confrontation between Polanyi’s opposing principles of the reality of society and the putative freedom of radical individualism. Contagion couldn’t hope for a better host than an illusory utopianism that defies the mortal urgency of ethical solidarity. In contrast to most other countries, infection rates in the U.S. continue to rise as the virus free rides on the back of the denial of the reality of society.

Even before the mask wars broke out, the most immediate and shocking impact of Covid-19 was its exposure of the catastrophic weaknesses in the US healthcare system. Everything was in short supply – personal protective equipment, N95 masks, ventilators, hospital beds, and the all-important testing kits. Instead of sanctuaries for the sick, hospitals became nothing short of dystopias as nurses and doctors were forced to reuse contaminated masks and to swaddle themselves in garbage bags. To date, hundreds of healthcare workers have died of the virus, many of whom could have been saved with the right protective gear. And there’s no way to know how many of the approximately 140,000 dead Americans might be alive today had there been adequate medical supplies and care.
How was this possible in the richest country in the world? This is where Polanyi’s macro critique of market utopianism becomes relevant. In a system of production and exchange organised exclusively by short-term market signalling, the needs of public health are systematically undermined. In just-in-time global supply chains, anything not being used is seen as a drag on the system; stockpiles have all disappeared, even those once used for indispensable medical supplies. Why pay for hospital beds that aren’t being used? Or for a back inventory of ventilators if they can be procured whenever the market demands? In a system organised by the assumption that companies should only buy when necessary, manufacturing medical commodities has chiefly migrated abroad to seek the lowest labour costs (and the meanest conditions), leaving the U.S. with virtually no domestic production of medical necessities.
The fragility of such a system is stunningly obvious, and in a matter of weeks from the pandemic’s arrival the global supply chains collapsed so dramatically that it was a crash heard around the world. In the face of overwhelming shortages, the Trump administration followed the market utopian playbook perfectly. The government refused to help provide essential supplies for the states and, pressured by private business, declined to deploy the 1950 Defence Production Act that would have required manufactures to produce necessary supplies. Instead, evoking the chillingly dystopian Hunger Games, Trump watched with perverse amusement as he forced the fifty states to compete frantically against each other to get the urgent medical equipment – by whatever means and at any cost. Denying there was a shortage, Trump even accused hospital workers of stealing masks and equipment. Combined with the absence of any meaningful social infrastructure for health care – counties with no hospitals in the wake of Medicaid cutbacks; ICU’s with insufficient beds; sick Americans without health insurance who simply forego medical care; healthcare workers receiving counterfeit masks and PPE – the American encounter with Covid-19 has proved the truth of Polanyi’s inevitable path from market utopianism to dystopia
The health care crisis exposes the tragic consequences of organising social life around the deadly logic of market utopianism, in which there is no place for public health. Public health treats disease not from the perspective of the healthcare industry but from the understanding that pathogens thrive in the deep webs of interconnectedness that characterise whole populations. Tasked with anticipating and preventing disease, public health work requires removing certain life and death necessities from the commodity regime and disentangling health care from the churn of the global market. This would entail government stockpiling of essential medical supplies as well as public investment in medical research, not only in funding but also in controlling the distribution and pricing of critical medicines and vaccines rather than handing over the work of public innovation to the logic of the marketplace – a logic that too often leads Big Pharma to abandon unprofitable vaccines and antibiotics. Above all, public health requires government planning, an old-fashioned word that was weaponised during the Cold War to evoke Soviet inefficiencies, the perversion of business incentives, and the alleged ‘road to serfdom’ posed by any deviation from Hayek’s free-market spontaneity.
As a democratic public good, public health planning conflicts fatally with market utopianism. Reflecting on the collapse of civilisation in the 1930s, Polanyi wrote: ‘[T]he victory of fascism was made practically unavoidable by the liberals’ [market utopians’] obstruction of any reform involving planning, regulation, or control’ (Polanyi 1944/2001, p. 265). This obstruction does not reflect a conflict between market versus government, for the market always entails state ‘planning, regulation, [and] control’, and Covid-19 demonstrates once again just how much the state is handmaiden to the market. The real question is to what end government control is being exercised and to what kind of power will it be subject-democratic or oligarchic? Is it toward commodifying, defunding and enfeebling the infrastructure of public health in the interest of corporate gain? Or toward strengthening the public good by enhancing solidarities across the whole population by decommodifying and supporting the human right to health care? 
For the dirty little secret of even the most marketised of societies is that none can survive without robust social underpinnings. The problem arises when, with the power of state behind it, the market devours those foundations by turning its elements into commodities. This happens when medically necessary supplies are subjected to the whims of the price mechanism, and when workers are forced by bosses and government mandate (as in the case of the meatpackers) to sacrifice their health and possibly their lives. Add to that the tragedy of African American, Latino, and Native American communities disproportionately dying of the virus–because they make up the predominant share of the low-paid ‘essential’ workforce and cannot work from home, and because the American health care system is riven with systemic racism. While markets are fine for widgets and iPads, ‘To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment … would result in the demolition of society’ (Polanyi 1944/2001, p. 76).

Covid-19 has revealed how deeply entangled are the deadly trio of market utopianism, the denial of society, and the descent into dystopia. At a similarly dark moment in history, Polanyi praised the progressivism of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to make the point that fascism in Europe was not the only or the necessary response to the contemporary crisis. Many hold out hope that today’s pandemic sets off a similar period of progressive democratic change. Yet the threat of a regressive and authoritarian regime designed to protect the interests of the wealthy remains very real. As Polanyi tried to teach us decades ago, rediscovering the reality of society can lead either to social reform or to fascism.

Reference:
— Polanyi, Karl. 1944/2001. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.
—————
* Margaret Somers is Professor Emerita of Sociology and History University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Fred Block is Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. They are co-authors of The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi’s Critique (2014). This article was originally published in Karl Polanyi: The Life and Works of an Epochal Thinker, edited by Brigitte Aulenbacher, Markus Marterbauer, Andreas Novy,  Kari Polanyi Levitt, and Armin Thurnher (2020)

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Community members posts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ES/PE community on social media

Dear email subscribers and WordPress subscribers to the Economic Sociology and Political Economy community blog, this post is mainly for you. Wouldn’t you like to know and recall, what we talked about the day before the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences announcement in 2018 or 2015? Wouldn’t you be interested to remember what was the most read post in 2014 and how it foresaw the recent Pope Francis rebuke of capitalism and “market freedom”? Of course you would! So how do you do that? Easily! Just follow the ES/PE community also on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagramWhatsapp, Tumblr, Telegram, or Reddit. On these ‘social media’, in addition to new posts, our best and most intriguing past posts are constantly shared. Since the ES/PE community foundation in the turbulent summer of 2011, several thousands entries, links and posts have been aired. In my clearly unbiased opinion, many of them are worth rereading, thinking over and circulating. Others reflect changes the academic and public fields of Economic Sociology and Political Economy have gone through and in this way they show the progress that has been achieved.
To this I will add a fascinating new aspect. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about an evident change: widespread conduct of webinars and lectures on Zoom or similar videoconferencing applications. Any lecture is a click away! So, I recently started to post on Facebook and Twitter announcements of promising and very interesting webinars taking place in universities all over the world. This kind of information will be exclusively publicized on social media because of the dynamic nature of these events. This is another significant reason to join us on Facebook and Twitter.
The ES/PE community is the largest global online scholarly society — we count currently more than 65,000 members on all our platforms. But deliberate algorithm manipulations by Tech giants we rely on decrease the exposure and reduce the virality our posts. So in order to possibly overcome this profit-driven blockage, if you already liked ES/PE on Facebook, you should join also ES/PE on Twitter and LinkedIn — then the probability of missing our contents is likely to lessen. Recently, ES/PE Whatsapp and Telegram channels were launched — and they quickly become popular due to wide distribution of these mobile apps.
So, see you on social media! Of course, feel free to invite your colleagues, students and friends interested to better understand the socio-political foundations and features of the economy and economics. 
Thanks! Oleg Komlik 

Posted in Oleg Komlik | 2 Comments

Political Economy After Neoliberalism: A Manifesto for New Thinking

by Neil Fligstein and Steven Vogel*

If anything could have dislodged the neoliberal doctrine of freeing the market from the government, you might have expected the coronavirus pandemic to do the trick. Of course, the same was said about the global financial crisis, which was supposed to transform everything from macroeconomic policy to financial regulation and the social safety net.
Now we are facing a particularly horrifying moment, defined by the triple shock of the Trump presidency, the pandemic, and the economic disasters that followed from it. Perhaps these—if combined with a change in power in the upcoming election—could offer a historic window of opportunity. Perhaps. But seizing the opportunity will require a new kind of political-economic thinking. Instead of starting from a stylized view of how the world ought to work, we should consider what policies have proved effective in different societies experiencing similar challenges. This comparative way of thinking increases the menu of options and may suggest novel solutions to our problems that lie outside the narrow theoretical assumptions of market-fundamentalist neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism implies a one-size-fits-all set of policy solutions: less government and more market, as if the “free market” were a single equilibrium. To the contrary, we know that there have been multiple paths to economic growth and multiple solutions to economic crises in different societies. By recognizing that there is not one single path to good outcomes, that real-world markets are complex human constructions—governed in different places by different laws, practices, and norms—we open up the possibility that policies that seem objectionable in light of neoliberal abstractions may deliver high performance along both social and economic dimensions.
We know about these possibilities from the work of economic sociologists, who stress the political, cultural, and social embedding of real-world markets. From work in comparative political economy, demonstrating how the relationships between government and industry and among firms, banks, and unions vary from one country to another. From political and economic geographers, who place regional economies in their spatial contexts and natural environments. From economic historians, who explore the transformation of the institutions of capitalism over time. From an emergent Law and Political Economy (LPE) movement that aspires to shift priorities from efficiency to power, from neutrality to equality, and from apolitical governance to democracy. And from economistsoften villainized as the agents of neoliberalism—who are exploring novel approaches to the problem of inequality and the slowdown in productivity, and show renewed concern with the economic dominance of a few large firms.
The challenge is to bring these insights together.
As a step in this direction, we will propose three core principles of an alternative political economy. We then illustrate these principles by discussing the dynamics of the American political economy, focusing particularly on the rise of “shareholder capitalism” in the 1980s. Finally, we apply the principles to the ongoing national policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, comparing the United States to Germany.
We recognize that these principles do not resolve the very real problem othe dominance of business in U.S. politics and the political gridlock produced by this configuration of power. Still, they point in new and urgent directions.

                                                                              ***
First, then, governments and markets are co-constituted.
Government regulation is not an intrusion into the market but rather a prerequisite for a functioning market economy. Critics of neoliberalism often make the case for government “intervention” in the market. But why refer to government action as intervention? The language of intervention implies that government action contaminates a market otherwise free of public action. To the contrary, the alternative to government action is not a perfect market, but rather real-world markets thoroughly sullied with collusion, fraud, imbalances of power, production of substandard or dangerous products, and prone to crises due to excessive risk-taking.
Likewise, critics of neoliberalism often adopt the fictional “free market” as a reference point even as they make the case for deviation from it. For example, they follow the standard practice of economists by identifying market failures and proposing solutions to those failures. To be fair, this can be a useful way to see how government action can remedy specific problems, and to assess when action may be helpful or not. But this approach also risks obscuring the fact that market failure is the rule and not the exception. More fundamentally, the government is not a repair technician for a market economy that functions reasonably well, but rather the master craftsperson of market infrastructure.
Thus, governments pacify a territory and centralize the means of violence, making investment safer and trade less precarious. They create ways to write and enforce contracts via the rule of law. They provide public goods like education and transport infrastructure. No neoliberal denies the value of these things.
Beyond these basic functions, governments establish the conditions for the emergence of new markets, provide the architecture to stabilize existing ones, and manage crises to limit damage and facilitate recovery. Historically, governments fostered many of the largest markets, such housing and banking, by designing new market structures that enabled the mass expansion of goods and services. In the case of the housing market, the U.S. federal government created the 30-year fixed interest rate mortgage as the standard mortgage product. It also stabilized the savings and loan industry by creating rules about paying interest on bank accounts and deposit insurance.
In the postwar era, this system helped propel home ownership from around 40 percent to 64 percent. More recently, many policy failures, such as the financial crisis of 2007–2009, occurred because governments shirked their role of making markets work through “deregulation.” Essentially, the U.S. government allowed financial institutions to enter whichever businesses they liked and with little oversight. In the wake of the Great Recession, predictably, the government re-established control and oversight over the banking sector with the Dodd-Frank Act. One of the provisions of that act was to give the Federal Reserve the ability to ask the largest banks to undergo stress tests every year to determine whether or not they could manage a serious downturn.
Governments also support knowledge creation and dissemination and underwrite the cost of innovation in the private sector. They facilitate the organization of market activity by establishing the legal basis for corporations and by setting the rules for fair and efficient trading practices on stock exchanges. A political economy that does not value the role of government along these different dimensions distorts how markets do contribute to society.

                                                                                   ***
Second, real-world political economy hinges on power, both political and market power. Specific forms of market governance—of the kinds we just sketched—do not arise naturally or innocently. They are the product of power struggles between firms, industries, workers, and governments within particular markets and in the political arena. Those with more power and wealth, especially incumbent firms, seek to shape governance in their favor. There is no natural equilibrium point of perfect competition devoid of power, but only a spectrum of power balances between employers and workers, incumbents and challengers, lenders and borrowers, and so on.
For example, we tend to think of labor market regulation as the protection of workers from exploitative employers. But labor market regulation can also protect employers from workers by imposing restrictions on union formation or strike activity. So the balance of power between employers and workers is not inherent to the market, but reflects the historic battles that forged the particular forms of governance in the economy. The fact that there is no “state-of-nature” has important implications for how we analyze labor markets and design policy solutions. For analysis, it means that we should not take any given state as a reference point or a default, but rather try to understand how real-world labor markets are governed, how that governance came to be, and what consequences it has.
In the United States, for example, the Reagan administration confronted public sector unions by firing air traffic controllers who were on strike, appointing more business-friendly representatives to the National Labor Relations Board, and enacting rule changes that made it harder for unions to win elections and easier for companies to decertify unions. And this in turn emboldened managers to engage in more aggressive anti-union strategies.
For policy, since there is no “power-free” solution but only an infinite variety of power balances, we should not be too shy about turning the dial to recalibrate the balance in the public interest.
So political economy should investigate how political and market power interact. For example, we should not take a firm’s market dominance as a given, perhaps needing some corrective action, but investigate how that dominance might itself reflect political influence and social privilege. Likewise, we should understand the political power of a firm or an industry as more than financial contributions or lobbying because a dominant market position—for example, in transportation or information—can generate influence even in the absence of political activity.
This means that political economy needs to integrate multiple levels of analysis, including government, industry, firm, and individuals. Political scientists cannot understand politics without understanding what is happening at the firm level, and how that shapes what businesses lobby for. Business scholars cannot understand corporate strategy without examining how businesses press for regulatory changes that support their business strategies and how they take advantage of those changes once enacted.

                                                                                 ***
Third, there imore than one way to organize society to achieve economic growth, equity, and access to valued goods and services. The balance of power between government, workers, and firms differs greatly across countries and time. And the different power balances in different countries shape distinctive national trajectories of policies. We can expect that the governing institutions will reinforce the status-quo balance of power, particularly in a crisis. It is rare for any one set of actors to have total control in a society, a condition that would lead to extreme rent-seeking behavior. Instead we see constant contestation between different sets of organized actors but a general balance of power that reflects the dominance of one side or another. One of the most reproduced empirical results from comparative political economy is that the same crisis will beget very different policy responses from societies that have different balances of power between the state, labor, and capital. If one takes a long-run view of economic development in the developed world, one can see that a great variety of these arrangements are compatible with innovation and growth.
Abandoning the neoliberal lens of government versus market and the “one best way” perspective opens up the possibility of a profound rethinking of economic policy that seeks to learn from the great variety of capitalisms that actually exist. One intriguing implication of this understanding is that a new political economy implies a turn toward what is sometimes called the “predistribution agenda.” Redistributive policies take the market allocation of income and wealth as a given and devise ways to moderate the inequalities that markets generate. Predistributive policies focus on how market governance—such as corporate governance, labor regulation, financial regulation, or antitrust policy—affects who benefits from economic activity in the first place. We can learn from the experiences of other societies where different policies and institutions have been tried and found to work more equitably. The government could enact reforms in these areas to give workers a more powerful voice in corporations; push financial institutions to deliver more value for the economy and fewer rents to themselves; shift the balance of power between employers and workers; or constrain market power to benefit both workers and consumers. That would not undermine American capitalism but revitalize it.

                                                                                 ***
To illustrate these three general ideas, consider the case of corporate governance. The standard models assume that firms maximize profits by making the right kinds of investments to produce goods at the lowest prices. But there is a lot of evidence that firms actually favor the stabilization of markets or organizational survival over profits.
Incumbent firms are threatened by the possibility that a disruptive challenger could come along and offer a lower price or a better product, or develop a breakthrough innovation that would render the incumbent’s product obsolete. So they deploy a combination of political strategies, such as lobbying, and corporate strategies, such as alliances and mergers, to insulate themselves from such threats. Their efforts to ensure stability include tactics such as setting industry standards—which could be formal, like technical standards, or informal, like industry-specific codes of behavior. In essence, firms can achieve profits and stability via value creation, rent extraction, or some combination of the two. But if they cannot be sure that they will always be able to outrun the competition, they turn to political and business strategies to ensure that they will survive even if they do not.
This perspective on firm behavior is not only more accurate than a profit-maximization model, but it can account for behavior that cannot be explained by that model. It makes sense of much of what we read in the business news, from U.S. big tech firms that buy out tiny rivals at huge premiums to Japanese firms that hold each other’s stocks rather than optimize their investment portfolios. Hence a political economy perspective can be used to explain the outcomes that policy makers, business leaders, and economists care about most, such as corporate profits, economic rents, wages, and investment.
Moreover, this line of inquiry can be usefully applied to variations across countries, regions, sectors, firms, or time. For example, if we look at the gradual transition of the U.S. corporate governance model from a managerial model in the early postwar era to the shareholder model of today, we uncover a long series of lobbying efforts to change laws and regulations, legal strategies to transform the meaning of those laws and regulations, and business practices to shift corporate governance to deliver higher returns to both shareholders and corporate executives. Hence this case illustrates each of the three principles outlined above: the interpenetration of government and market, the centrality of power, and variations across time and space.
The shareholder value system in the United States reflects the long-term dominance of capital over labor and government. In the shareholder value era, this dominance consistently provided ideological and political support for the policy agendas of firms. For example, financial liberalization beginning in the 1980s allowed the financial sector to take more risks with financial innovation and to break down the barriers between banking businesses, such as commercial banking, brokerage, and insurance. This was all done in the name of making markets more “efficient.” The idea was that financial firms should be able to buy and sell risk of any kind, and this would increase the depth and liquidity of financial markets. Financial firms claimed that they would manage risk because they were the ones who would suffer from any bad investments. In the early 2000s, the financial sector with about 11 percent of employment earned almost 40 percent of all of the profits in the American economy. We now know that they were able to do so not because financial innovation produced efficient capital markets, but because they were able to take huge risks without much oversight.
The shareholder value revolution in the United States featured a set of tactics that have increased the share of national income to shareholders and decreased the share going to everyone else. In the 1980s, firms bought out other firms, closed plants, and outsourced production, often to foreign countries. In the 1990s, when these tactics had run their course, firms turned to reducing their layers of management. They fired a whole generation of managers and pushed managers who remained to work 24/7. They invested heavily in computer technology to increase control over remaining employees. Work became more insecure not just for lower-skilled workers but for everyone.
In the past twenty years, firms have constructed global supply chains, thereby making outsourcing more profitable and propelling the rise of China as a manufacturing power. U.S. firms have engaged in mergers with their competitors, raising market concentration. The shareholder model has fueled the unprecedented rise in U.S. income and wealth inequality since the 1980s. It has done so by rewarding top managers with shares, giving them an incentive to manipulate share prices as a major goal of corporate strategy. In the past ten years, American firms have spent massive amounts of money buying back their own shares to raise stock prices.

                                                                                ***
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fallacies of the neoliberal paradigm especially starkly. It highlights the fact that the government—and not the market—is the only viable solution to some of our greatest challenges. The private sector and market incentives could not manufacture, procure or deliver the key supplies needed to combat the virus, including tests, ventilators, or personal protective equipment. The market could not keep businesses running or people working. And the private sector was not willing or able to make the massive investments required to design new therapies or to develop a vaccine.
Moreover, those countries that had gone the furthest with neoliberal policy reforms—such as the United States and Britain—were the least well equipped to manage the public health and economic crisis. As stressed above, a society with a particular balance of power between labor, capital, and the government is likely to produce policy solutions to a crisis that benefit those who dominate in that society. So what would that mean for the current crisis? Consider a brief comparison of the United States and Germany. We choose the United States as a country where capital dominates over labor and the state and Germany as a country with a more even balance of power among these actors.
We readily concede that the quality of the top leadership in the two countries explains part of the enormous gap between the two countries in containing the pandemic, caring for the ill, and supporting businesses and workers through the economic downturn. By the end of September, the United States had 2,203 cases and 92 deaths per 100,000 people, whereas Germany had 355 cases and 17 deaths. Yet there is also a strong propensity to favor capital over labor in the U.S. government’s approach. The Trump administration’s initial reluctance to confront the pandemic and its later eagerness to reopen the economy revealed a preoccupation with the performance of the stock market and continuation of business activity, even at the expense of the health of workers and citizens.
Meanwhile, the fragmented nature of U.S. health care provision and insurance impeded the delivery of health care services. Some people did not seek care because they were not insured. Others lost health insurance coverage when they lost their jobs. Moreover, the government had excluded huge segments of the population from the circle of care via the carceral state: locking them up in prisons and jails, threatening them with deportation, or throwing them out on the street. Just as before the crisis, the U.S. healthcare system provided less access at a higher cost relative to Germany and most other advanced countries.
The U.S. federal government’s economic packages have favored businesses, especially large businesses. The United States lacked strong public-sector financial institutions or the ability to coordinate private sector financial institutions that could have enabled it to support businesses more effectively. The U.S. government allocated its rescue funds through the Small Business Administration and the private banking system, but this led to inefficiency, inequity, and fraud. The lack of paid leave and job security schemes meant that the stimulus package had to work through corporate subsidies and unemployment insurance rather than job protection.
The U.Sunemployment rate jumped from 3.5 percent in February to 14.7 percent in April, while the German rate rose from 4.7 percent to 5.5 percent. Congress provided an extra $600 per week unemployment benefit under the CARES Act, which passed in late March, but those benefits expired at the end of July. And Congress has not given state governments the support they need to preserve public services. The Federal Reserve provided massive liquidity to financial markets and purchased various kinds of financial assets to support asset prices. The rebound of the stock market can only be read as the government siding with shareholders over everyone else. Business has been protected while citizens have borne the brunt of the virus and the economic downturn.
In contrast, the German government addressed the spread of the virus rapidly with a coordinated program of social distancing, testing, and contact tracing. The German health system had a higher reserve of supplies, an ample supply of intensive care units, and it was able to ramp up testing and ICU capacity quickly. Germany already had a short-term work (Kurzarbeit) program, which had operated successfully through the global financial crisis, to pay most of the lost wages so that firms could retain workers through a downturn. So, the government simply reinforced this program for the new crisis. The government also coordinated with the federal development bank (KfW), the public state-level public banks (Landesbanken), and the commercial banks to mobilize its program of state-guaranteed loans for business. So far the country with a power base that favors workers and citizens more generally over firms appears to have responded to the crisis more effectively than the United States, where the protection of firms and support for the stock market were the priority policy goals.
This example illustrates that policy choices reflected the assumptions leaders made about how the political economy works, and who and what should be promoted and protected. Their options were also powerfully shaped by pre-existing modes of market governance and policy legacies. While both sets of choices may eventually produce an economic recovery, they do so by quite different means, with different values, and with different distributional consequences. We expect that U.S. citizens, particularly those in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution will experience the negative effects disproportionately, while Germany will encounter less economic dislocation and long-run impact for those most at risk.
Americans have lower trust in government than Germans. Political scientists argue that this lack of trust plays out in supporting the status quo that favors business over everyone else. But we know from polling that Americans favor a wealth tax on the very rich and many of the social programs standard in Europe such as universal health care and a more extensive social safety net. In the coronavirus crisis, polling has shown a great deal of support for government action to support the economy. We should take advantage of that support to search for the best ideas, not an illusory “one best solution.”
——————-
* This article was originally published in Boston Review on October 6, 2020, as a part of Rethinking Political Economy project. Emphases here added by the editor.
Neil Fligstein is Class of 1939 Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of A Theory of Fields (2012), The Architecture of Markets: An Economic Sociology of Capitalist Societies (2001), and more.
Steven Vogel is Chair of Political Economy, the II Han New Professor of Asian Studies, and Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Marketcraft: How Governments Make Markets Work (2018), Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in the Advanced Industrial Countries (1996), and more.

Fearless Girl , a sculpture in front of the New York Stock Exchange  (previously, located in front of the Wall Street Bull)

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Community members posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Discipline and Punish: The Challenge of Teaching

While I was preparing a syllabus for a new course, two entertaining sayings jumped to my mind.
The first was made by the master — Michel Foucault. During one of his lectures at Victoria University in Toronto in 1982, he nicely remarked:

“Has everyone read these texts? Yes? No? Nobody? Well, I will have to punish you, that’s for sure! I’m not going to tell you how… That’s a surprise for the last day!”
(Dire vrai sur soi-même,
2017, p. 189;  spotted on Stuart Elden’s blog)

The next one is a witty observation by a political scientist Paul Musgrave:

“As a professor, Fox News tells me I can turn my students into Communists and experience tells me I can’t even make them do the readings.” (28 March 2017)


So what is the conclusion? Let’s agree that humor helps in teaching 😏
And what about reading lists? Well, it’s up to you and them.

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Funny, Oleg Komlik | Tagged | Leave a comment

Forms of Capital and Moral Legitimation of Capitalism

by Ivan Light*

The class system routinely provides people with resources they need to enact their inherited status. These resources are Pierre Bourdieu’s four forms of capital: financial, human, cultural, and social. A coal miner’s son will not need and is unlikely to receive a college education, uncles on Wall Street, and a trust fund. He will need and will receive expert instruction in use of a pickaxe and in the supreme value of manly strength. With only slight modification, Bourdieu’s “forms of capital” theory can be applied equally successfully to becoming an entrepreneur and, doing so, Bourdieu’s ideas ingeniously generalize Max Weber’s cultural approach to capitalism. Individually and ensemble, the non-monetary forms of capital are resources that enhance a business owner’s chances in the marketplace quite apart from and in addition to financial capital.
Successful business owners start with the most abundant resources already on hand in order to acquire the less abundant. Most commonly, they have all four, but if they have even one resource on hand, they have a superior chance of getting the others. The resources on hand are the ones the class system routinely provides young people like them. A lifetime career progression usually requires business owners to start with non-monetary resources they already have in order to get money rather than the other way around. Indeed, without some supporting non-monetary resources, the wealthy cannot make money in business. After all, a rich person who lacks business skill, business knowledge, business culture, business networks, and business reputation lacks the capability to run a business firm. In Benjamin Franklin’s acid phrase, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” A fool may, of course, invest in someone else’s firm but even that option requires some personal resource. The class system normally (but not invariably) guarantees that those who inherit money are not fools.
The existing literature in both business and sociology contains abundant archival support of the value of  these non-commodity resources in business enterprise. Business owners with education, skill, reputation, social networks, and generalized aptitude outperform those who lack them, and the more resources one has, the better one’s chances for financial success.  From that point d’appui,  Entrepreneurs and Capitalism Since Luther: Rediscovering the Moral Economy addresses two more advanced questions. If they do not contribute equally, which of these non-monetary resources is more important for business owners to control? Putting it very crudely, is ‘who you know’ more important than ‘what you know’, or the other way around? And whatever is the answer now, has it always been that way or did it change?
In order to lodge those novel questions in the entire history of capitalism, rather than only in the fleeting present, the book presents six contrasting case studies that illustrate the importance of business-supporting ideas and business-supporting communities for business owners, now and in the past. Each chapter is an independent case study but together they display suggestive historical continuity. The case studies addresses the economic ethic of Protestant “ethnics” in the Reformation, Jewish merchants in early modern Venice, business-disdaining Aleutiiqs on a remote Alaskan island, an Islamic business caste in metropolitan Karachi, Korean immigrant entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, and the unsuccessful business career of Donald J. Trump. All the chapters converge around that claim that, without both social and cultural capital in place, business owners are handicapped, and their enterprise cannot flourish even when money is abundant. However, the case studies also suggest that, although both resource types are still and always have been important, the balance of relative importance shifted over historic time from business-friendly ideas to business-supporting communities. That is, during capitalism’s start-up phase, the most important business-supporting resource was cultural aptitude for business, which was scarce, whereas community was abundant. That balance historically shifted from aptitude to community because the very success of capitalism diminished the supply of community in society while enhancing the supply of business skill and aptitude. Explaining and illustrating this transition is the main concern of part 1.
Without changing the book’s guiding theoretical orientation, Part 2 expands the book’s focus from business management to the moral legitimation of capitalism now and in the past. The themes are related. Ideas that legitimate entrepreneurs legitimate capitalism; and ideas that legitimate capitalism legitimate entrepreneurs. By legitimation is meant culturally shared ideas that enable people to understand business as a morally acceptable livelihood, which is an essential part of willingness to undertake it. To the surprise of most students, in the history of mankind, business ownership has not usually been understood as morally legitimate. Quite the opposite was usually the case. Capitalism entered the world stage under an inhibiting cloud of moral suspicion which it had somehow to dissipate.
Following Max Weber and Werner Sombart, who pioneered this line of research a century ago, our review starts with religious ideas. Early modern Jews could legitimate profit-making business to their own religious satisfaction but not to the satisfaction of early modern Christians. As a result, primitive resistance to capitalism assumed the form of moralistic anti-Semitism. Capitalism was immoral and its immorality tainted Jews who practiced it. Theorists of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin and Richard Baxter first convinced skeptical Christians that running a profit-making business was fully compatible with Christian morality and, indeed, exemplified it. Two centuries later, abandoning the religious domain, Adam Smith and Benjamin Franklin, both Enlightenment savants, theorized naturalistic components of action that tended to assure that business owners would understand the advantages of moral behavior and that the resulting market economy would channel human choices into morally acceptable behavior. Greed would supplant war and commerce would replace thievery.
By the late nineteenth century, optimism had vanished from the debate. In the Gilded Age, confronting big business, William Graham Sumner and Thorstein Veblen abandoned all expectation that entrepreneurs would display moral rectitude. Veblen theorized that long-term  cultural change would ultimately extirpate vestiges of barbarism that enabled a dysfunctional “pecuniary culture.” Equally critical of business morality, Sumner was more pessimistic. Sumner believed that a market economy was a realm of nature in which survival of the fittest was enacted. In this realm, fraud, deceit, and violence played as essential and irrevocable a part as they did in real jungles. Therefore, instead of preaching cultural change as had Veblen, Sumner sought to convince readers that the moral misbehavior of big business leaders would result in long-term economic benefit for everyone and so should be tolerated. A generation later, Joseph Schumpeter advanced an economistic version of Sumner’s idea as “creative destruction.” Schumpeter conceded that entrepreneurial capitalism outraged social morality but observed that it also created unparalleled economic growth. Ordinary people rejected capitalism but craved the wealth that trickled down because of it. Either way, in Sumner’s version or Schumpeter’s, twentieth century theorists relieved big business entrepreneurs of the necessity for  moral conformity that still applied to small business owners. As a result, the moral legitimation of capitalism now derives from small business owners who, embedded in the social structure, import conventional moral ideas into their business practice. Lacking that embedded context, big business is tolerated for its results, but morally mistrusted.
This intellectual history is not an exercise in antiquarianism. In contemporary America, one does not have to frequent libraries to access these ideas. In the mid-twentieth century, the moral exoneration and idealization of elite entrepreneurs moved from textbooks into comic books through the Batman superhero. Originally created in 1939, and subsequently released on toys, television, and video games, Batman has been featured in 13 Hollywood movies since 1943 and most recently in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises (2005) and Batman vs. Superman (2012). The Batman thematic depicts the fictional Bruce Wayne as a billionaire entrepreneur obsessed with glamorous women and conspicuous consumption of luxury. Wayne is a playboy celebrity whose meretricious lifestyle the public tracks, envies, disapproves, and tolerates. Unbeknownst to the public, when disguised as Batman, Bruce Wayne uses his vast wealth, superior intelligence, and jungle cunning to destroy evil doers whom the legal order condones. To a startling extent, Donald Trump resembles that billionaire playboy, and there is evidence that Trump consciously promoted his resemblance to Batman during both political campaigns. This resemblance was advantageous to Trump because the American public already understood that immoral billionaires are hidden benefactors of society.
——————–
* Ivan Light is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and author, together with Léo-Paul Dana, of  Entrepreneurs and Capitalism Since Luther (2020). Among his previous books are Deflecting Immigration: Networks, Markets, and Regulation in Los Angeles (2006), Ethnic Economies (2000), Immigration and Entrepreneurship: Culture, Capital, and Ethnic Networks (1993), Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Koreans in Los Angeles (1988), and Ethnic Enterprise in America:
Business and Welfare among Chinese, Japanese, and Blacks (1972). 

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Books, Community members posts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great academic opportunities: 8 calls for papers, 7 jobs, 4 postdocs, 3 PhD fellowships, 3 awards, 2 grants

Dear ES/PE community member, see below a list of great academic opportunities:call for papers  8 calls for papers for conferences and special issues, 7 job openings, 4 post-doc positions, 3 PhD fellowships, 3 awards, and 2 grants in various areas of economic sociology, political economy, and related fields, with September 28 — October 31 deadlinesShare this post with your colleagues and students. Best wishes and good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: The Economic History Society annual conference, the University of Warwick (UK) or online, 9 – 11 April, 2021. DL: September 28

> CfP: “The ‘new’ social relations of digital technology and the future of work“, New Technology, Work and Employment’s special issue. DL: September 30 

> CfP: “Freedom, work and organizations in the 21st century: Freedom for whom and for whose purpose?“, Human Relations‘ special issue. DL: October 1

> CfP: Colloquium on Regulatory Governance for PhD students, held online and organized by the Governance and Regulation Network at the Centre for Global Business, Monash Business School (Australia), 10–11 December 2020. No fee. DL: October 9

> CfP:”The Social Life of Chinese Infrastructures in Southeast Asia“, the Third China Made Workshop, National University of Singapore, May 19-21, 2021. Participents will be provided a subsidy for a round-trip airfare, board, and meals. DL: October 9

> Call for Proposals for Mini-Conferences at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics annual meeting “After Covid? Critical Conjunctures and Contingent Pathways of Contemporary Capitalism“,  Amsterdam or online, July 3-5, 2021. DL: October 10

> CfP: “Regulatory Governance” conference for early career researchers, organized  by the Early Career Network of the ECPR Standing Group on Regulatory Governance, ONLINE, December 7, 2020. DL: October 25

> CfP: “Security in Work? The workplace after COVID-19“, the 39th International Labour Process Conference, University of Greenwich, 12-14 April 2021. DL: October 31

PhD Fellowships

> PhD Position to study social inequality related to the integration of immigrants in the labour market, University of Lausanne (Switzerland). DL: September 30

> PhD fellowship on  “Financialisation of nursing homes: privatisation, political economy, Covid–a case study from Ireland“, Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin. DL: October 5

> PhD scholarship on “Government measures to contain economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis: A comparative study across the United Kingdom and European Union“, University of Greenwich (UK). DL: October 15

Postdoctoral Positions: 

> Postdoctoral Researcher in Sociology of Networks / Social Mobility, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford. DL: September 28

> Postdoctoral Fellowships in “Politics of Inequality“, University of Konstanz (Germany). DL: October 15

> Postdoctoral Fellowships on the Foundations of Value and Values, The New Institute for Advanced StudiesHamburg (Germany). DL: October 28

> Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Eviction Lab, Department of Sociology at Princeton University. DL: October 31

Awards:

> The Ellis W. Hawley Prize for the book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, given by the Organization of American Historians. DL: October 1

> The David Montgomery Award for the best book on American labor and working-class history,  given by the Organization of American Historians and the Labor and Working-Class History Association. DL: October 1

> The Merle Curti Social History Award for the best book in American social histor, given by the Organization of American Historians. DL: October 1

Grants:

> Transform! Europe is seeking studies on aspects of national recovery plans of EU Member States in the wake of the Corona Crisis. DL for proposals: Sep 30

>  4 grants (2 senior and 2 junior) for a Thematic Research Group on conservatisms, Maria Sibylla Merian International Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America. DL: October 4

Job openings:

> Faculty Positions (various ranks) in comparative or historical political economy, The Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. DL: September 28

> Academic position (various ranks) in Work and Organisation Studies, KU Leuven (Belgium). DL: September 30

> Research Group Leader (open topic) at the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality“, University of Konstanz (Germany). DL: October 4

>  Executive Director, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) – a critical, independent, not-for-profit research centre investigating multinational companies for public interest groups and civil society, The Netherlands. DL: October 7

> Assistant Professor in Political Economy of Development (tenure-track), Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago (USA). DL: October 21

> Assistant or Associate Professor (no tenure) in Entrepreneurship / Innovation, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. DL: October 23

> Assistant or Associate Professor (tenure track) in Work, Employment, and Organization Studies, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. DL: October 30

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Academic announcements | 1 Comment

The Future of Work

I can’t remember — do I work at home or do I live at work?

See below insightful books on various aspects of the phenomenon reflected in the cartoon. The point is, although they were written in the pre-COVID-19 world, its essence remains as it was — or probably even became worse.
— Anderson, Elizabeth. 2017. Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives. Princeton University Press.
— Graeber, David. 2018. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Simon & Schuster.
— Hyman, Louis. 2018. Temp: The Real Story of What Happened to Your Salary, Benefits, and Job Security. Penguin Books
— Schor, Juliet. 2020. After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back. University of California Press.
— Standing, Guy. 2011. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. Bloomsbury.

***
Join Economic Sociology & Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

B&B: Laissez-faire & monetary technophilia // Psychoanalysis as a capitalist drug // Sociology and economics // Hobsbawm on May Day // Big Tech uses the Covid-19 crisis // Artists’ strikes

> “As ugly as the public provision of money can sometimes be, its digital privatization is all too likely to be vastly worse” — Frank Pasquale reviews three recent books examining the laissez-faire ideology of monetary technophilia: David Golumbia’s The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism, Finn Brunton’s Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency, and Katharina Pistor’s The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality

> “Deleuze and Guattari were frustrated with the ‘Mummy-Daddy’ focus of psychoanalysis. By understanding desire in terms of the family romance, psychoanalysis had become  (in Guattari’s words) a ‘capitalist drug’, individualising collective problems and neutralising the disruptive effects of desire.” — by Adam Shatz

> As a part of the INET’s series “How & How NOT to Do Economics”, a renowned Keynesian economist and economic historian Robert Skidelsky looks at economics’ relationship with sociology & discusses how can sociology help economics (video lecture)

May Day as The Principle of Hope: Eric Hobsbawm’s enlightening historical account on the birth of May Day and its gradual transformation from being a strict political activity to a secular holiday

> “We face real and hard choices between investing in humans and investing in technology. Because the brutal truth is that, as it stands, we are very unlikely to do both.” Naomi Klein on how Big Tech is leveraging the Covid-19 crisis to get more power & profit

> Artists have always contributed to the strikes of others. But what about artists’ strikes? They remain rare, although their significance is well established. Stewart Martin provides an historical & contemporary inventory on this topic

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in BITS & BRIEFS, Books | Leave a comment

Tributes to David Graeber

David Graeber’s death shocked and saddened so many around the world… The bundles of emotions, memories and appreciation are being reflected in the incessant stream of obituaries and tributes. Links to a handful of them are collected here.

Bruno Latour: “What David Graeber wrote and did had an enormous effect in empowering his readers, and more generally a whole audience of stakeholders,  precisely because he was providing an alternative version of the economy in which we are imprisoned. In that sense, one can say that David Graeber was an optimist. However, his death does not make us optimistic at all: it is a shock for all those who hoped that his work would give a way out of the fiction that the economy is.
“David Graeber was an academic with a public commitment: his scholarly practice and his activist practice permuted with one another, but without ever being separated. In writing a book called Fragments of an Anarchist  Anthropology he was clearly showing an interest in the issue of power and his willingness to combat ordinary social theories that are based on a false conception of power. Did he fight by writing a book or by going out to the street? These are both acts that are too deeply intertwined to divide them.
“This short book [Bullshit Jobs: A Theory], which has been very successful, is typical of Graeber’s whole work. A work which shows that every time we delegate a function, we stop producing it through our own resources, we take on a bureaucracy that imposes itself on us. The increasing number of bullshit jobs implies that we are giving up our agency, [our capacities], to others. The anarchist thought sees in this delegation a self-conscious acceptance of domination through bureaucracy.
When asked, what is the effect of David Graeber on his own thinking, Latour replied: “A legacy is “diseconomization.” He shows that the topic of production, which obsesses Marxism as much as Liberalism, is a fiction. What is tragic about David Graeber’s death is that few are working to get us out of the economy as a fiction, to get rid of the economy as a principle of analysis of the social world. Economic notions do not grasp the violence of the social world.” (Thanks to Vassily Pigounides for the translation)

Michael Hardt: “One aspect of David’s writing that I greatly admire is the way it combines serious academic research with popular and accessible – and often genuinely humorous – writing. This combination of research and writing styles is, indeed, another facet of his figure as a scholar-activist.

Paul Mason: “Debt: The First 5000 Years taught a generation of activists that debt is a form of exploitation and repression; and that the progressive outcome of a class struggle over debt is its cancellation. Alongside the analysis of debt itself, Graeber developed the concept of an “everyday communism”, observable in clan-based societies but underpinning all human endeavours based on cooperation. Though under-developed in the book, the idea found an immediate resonance among the networked anti-capitalist activists who had been occupying the squares of major cities, determined to break with the gradualism and timidity of the official left.

Nathan J. Robinson: “Graeber noticed things. Everyone notices a few things here and there, but David Graeber noticed things other people did not. This was partly because he was an anthropologist, trained to shed presumptions about how human societies work and figure out how they actually work, to see people both through their own eyes and through the eyes of others. It was also, however, because he was an anarchist, instinctively inclined to reject the existing order of things and think for himself about what could and could not be justified. But Graeber did not simply see; he was a committed activist, participant as well as observer, who turned his intelligence to practical questions about how to make people more free to enjoy the brief, wondrous gift of getting to be alive.

Jerome Roos: “Graeber’s popularity on the left lay in his capacity to communicate complex ideas to a wide audience, combining engaging prose with disarming humour… He revitalised old concepts such as class and revolution, but in a way that gave readers the feeling they had encountered something new and exhilarating. Characteristically generous, Graeber spent his life fighting for a freer, more joyous and egalitarian world.

Marshall Sahlins: “David was the most creative student I ever had, constantly turning the conventional anthropological wisdom inside out, often to show how ostensibly dominated peoples, by their own means, subverted the states, kings, and other coercive institutions afflicting them to create self-governing enclaves of community.

Steve Keen: “He was fundamentally funny, and looked on the world with a sense of bemusement, and all the while, incisive insight. He was intrinsically an anthropologist, in that he was capable of living amongst people and seeing their customs more clearly than they could themselves, while all the while celebrating those aspects, the good and the bad, because they were his people as well.

Jeff Maskovsky: Many have coined phrases—activist anthropology, public anthropology, engaged anthropology, and militant anthropology, to name a few—to repackage disciplinary knowledge in more media-savvy, morally righteous, publicly consumable, and grassroots-oriented directions. Yet proponents of an “engaged” stance are often reluctant to name explicitly or to flesh out in any detail the political ideologies or philosophies that influence them. Graeber had no such hesitation.  His unabashed promotion of an anarchist perspective is more in line, in fact, with the ways that proponents of Marxist, feminist, antiracist, decolonial, and queer anthropology established their political and intellectual bona fides than it is with any “engaged” approach. And, like these more explicitly political approaches, David’s anarchist stance advanced political debates inside and outside of the academy, energized a new generation of politically motivated young scholars, and pushed all of us to elaborate more clearly what we think the relationship between scholarship and politics should be.

Andrew Ross: “David’s contribution to the theory and practice of Occupy’s conduct and tactics was much more profound and formative for the movement… More than anyone, David helped to revive and push into public consciousness the idea that debts should be wiped clean in a single act of abolitionary justice. It will be his greatest legacy if we can see that day come to pass. 

Brett Scott: “David was a master of a style of anthropology that opens your eyes to the fact that the pallette of economic options is far wider than you might think. While conservative econ departments attempt to naturalise the mentality that accompanies capitalist monetary exchange, economic anthropology – at its best – is like a rebel holdout in our collective subconscious, keeping alive knowledge of other ways of being… He told me [once] how tough it was trying to help out all the groups [calling for debt cancellation] that needed support, but he nevertheless kept at it. This is why David was an anthropological hero to me, because he explicitly politicised and lived his anthropological knowledge. He was acutely aware of how societies bulldozed by colonialism often had – and have – entirely different customs to apportion labour and energy, and was well-versed in the ambiguities of those customs. He believed, though, in our ability to rework this knowledge to challenge the oppressive structures of finance around us.

Nicholas Mirzoeff: “David was motivated by twin pillars, the radical capacities of the imagination and the need to place care at the center of any community… Reading David’s writing is like being in conversation with him: funny, incisive, and insightful at once, whether he’s talking about Batman, debt, direct action, or kingship. Like Stuart Hall, David was “in the university but not of it.” For all the times I heard him speak, I now realize none of them were in a university.

David Wengrow: David Graeber died three weeks after we finished writing a book together about human history, which had absorbed us for more than ten years. It will be called The Dawn of Everything, because he wanted that… It all started as a game really, an escape from our more “serious” responsibilities. Our only rule was no rules: no deadlines, no funding applications. Just a free space to ask questions and seek answers.

Matthew Zeitlin: “Graeber was a link not just between grassroots movements and the academic world, but between generations of leftist social movements. He was a veteran of the anti-globalization protests in the 1990s who helped start Occupy, one of the facilitators of a debtor movement that would influence the policy agendas of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders… The question Debt sought to ask was one that seemed natural in the wake of a debt crisis that would claim millions of homes and thrust much of the industrialized world into first a sharp economic crisis, then a self-destructive series of austerity measures designed to stem the tide of sovereign debt.

Debbie Bookchin: “Then there was his intellectual generosity. He seemed to project his own brilliance onto others, taking the latent kernel of an idea unrecognized by a speaker and following its logic, then weaving it together with his own knowledge of history, anthropology, and political theory until he had spun a beautiful synthesis, a comprehensive analysis of the subject at hand, for which he was always inclined to give the original speaker credit.

Benjamin Balthaser:David Graeber’s intellectual legacy is enormous and wide-ranging, but his recent writings on antisemitism deeply moved me. He knew that antisemitism was far from dead — and he also knew that only a democratic left could stop it.

My own tribute: “Graeber urged us to reject a narrow and deceptive economism, ask fundamental questions about what human beings are or could be like, and act morally… Graeber lived the coupling of theory and praxis… His iconoclastic research and writing have not just educated and inspired so many, but also paved the way to innovative approaches towards political activism and scientific investigation.

David Graeber, Occupy Democracy on Parliament Square, London, May 1, 2015

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Oleg Komlik | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Rest in Power, David Graeber – the Activist-scholar who Lived the Coupling of Theory and Praxis

A prominent social scientist and committed public intellectual David Graeber has died. This is devastating news and an enormous loss… Graeber was an original thinker, distinguished researcher, incredible writer, and vigorous speaker. He genuinely embodied the amalgam of scholarship and political activism. He urged us to reject a narrow and deceptive economism, ask fundamental questions about what human beings are or could be like, and act morally.
“His writings on anthropological theory are outstanding. I consider him the best anthropological theorist of his generation from anywhere in the world”, stated Maurice Bloch. Among Graeber’s early works are groundbreaking and already classic Toward An Anthropological Theory of Value (2001), his own favorite Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar (2007) — a excellent ethnography of a community divided between descendants of nobles and slaves, and thought-provoking Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (2007) that explored the nature of social power and the forms that resistance to it have taken, scrutinizing the origins of capitalism, the history of table manners, and the phenomenology of giant puppets at street protests.
Graeber’s magnum opus Debt: the First 5000 Years (2011) is probably needless to be presented. “If history shows anything,” he observes, “it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt-above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong” (p. 5). This remarkable, partly pugnacious, and highly influential treatise brilliantly covers a vast sweep of social global history, anthropology, and political economy, masterly elaborating and compellingly presenting a braid of complementary arguments with regard to the state-economy-society mutual embeddedness. Essentially, this research demonstrates that before there was money, there was debt and, more importantly, debt forgiveness.
In very interesting The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015) Graeber traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and shows how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice. Finally, in a recent and widely discussed Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018) Graeber reveals the neoliberal and post-fordist dark reality of labour, pointing out the existence and societal harm of meaningless jobs.
Graeber wasn’t just skillful in fusing scientific disciplines, he has also been virtuously crossing between the academic and nonacademic worlds. He has been constantly involved in a series of protests, movements and grassroots initiatives. Graeber’s political activism was the result, in part, of his anthropological analysis of economies and socio-economic arrangements, which gave him insight both into how people and groups interact and why economists are mostly wrong. His conviction that human society could be organized another way was empirically based — as an anthropologist, he was well aware that value systems vary across space and time. “[A]fter the beginning 2000
, he wrote, I threw myself into the Alter-Globalization movement and it might be said that all my work since has been exploring the relation between anthropology as an intellectual pursuit, and practical attempts to create a free society, free, at least, of capitalism, patriarchy, and coercive state bureaucracies.” His Direct Action: An Ethnography (2009) is an engaging study of the global justice movement in which Graeber was active. The book bears the underlying  message of optimism: what we choose to do politically does matter, therefore change  is possible and even inevitable.
In 2011 he became one of the leading figures of Occupy Wall Street, whose slogan “We are the 99%” was partly phrased by him. Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on PoliticsViolenceArt, and Imagination (2011) clearly reflects  Graeber the scholar-activist: his ideas and ideals, his aspirations and strategies. The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement (2013) is an inside account of the Occupy Wall Street and an illuminating journey to reorient our understanding of democracy in history and its implementation in the future, based on equality and broad participation.
As part of this unforgivably short and insufficient depiction of Graeber’s huge contribution, I should also tell about his specific impact on me and, actually, you. Back in 2011, when I created “Economic Sociology and Political Economy” Facebook page, what was the first step in establishing the ES/PE community — I sent emails to dozens of esteemed researchers to let them know about this new, online initiative aimed at disseminating the insights of socio-political research on the economy to the public and academics. Well, not many of them replied. David Graeber did. He briefly wrote: “Sounds great. Good luck!” That meant so much to me… Sometimes it is not the number of words that counts, but their intention. The ES/PE community will keep cherishing his endorsement.
Graeber lived the coupling of theory and praxis. “For a very long time,” he asserted, “the intellectual consensus has been that we can no longer ask Great Questions. Increasingly, it’s looking like we have no other choice” (2011: 19).
His iconoclastic research and writing have not just educated and inspired so many, but also paved the way to innovative approaches towards political activism and scientific investigation. The challenges he raised and injustice he confronted still remain before us. “As humans we are fragile biological entities who will die unless we take care of each other“, he noted once. Revolutionary constituencies always involve a tacit alliance between the least alienated and the most oppressed” was David Graeber’s last tweet. Let us continue and realize his intellectual and public legacy and take care of each other.

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Books, Oleg Komlik | Tagged | 2 Comments

We Make our Careers in Networks

I recently came across an engaging and illuminating article “On the Acrimoniousness of Intellectual Disputes” written by a prominent American sociologist Randall Collins. Not just researchers and academics will find this paper relevant and thought-provoking because it tackles the inner workings of the intellectual world, but it also might be of interest for everyone who is curious about creation and diffusion of ideas and knowledge. I recommend to read it (see below its open-access version) and for now I leave you with its final, reflective and acute paragraph:

“As intellectuals, we make our careers in networks. What we produce is shaped by our predecessors who provide the topics and techniques of thinking, and–if we are lucky–by webs of successors who continue and transform our ideas. We are shaped too by maneuvering around rivals with whom we divide up a limited field of attention. Usually this process goes on tacitly. We would be better off if we were more explicit about our dependence on a network cycling through widely if unevenly shared bodies of ideas and argumentative techniques; more explicit, too, in recognizing that the few individuals who become the rallying points of intellectual movements are focal points in flows of ideas that wash in many directions around networks made up of large numbers of us. Less egotism, both individual and collective, and more awareness of how we all constitute each other: this could be a path toward lowering intellectual acrimony in the future.” (p. 70)

Collins, Randall. 2002. “On the Acrimoniousness of Intellectual Disputes.” Common Knowledge 8 (1): 47-70.
This article is substantially drawn from Collins’ astonishing The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (1998).

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rethinking Central Bank Independence

by Vadym Syrota*

Nowadays global economy faces a slightly controversial type of crisis: despite looming economic recession, states, business and households find themselves in the environment of, what The Economist called, “free money”. Central banks are to be credited for the establishing such strange new economic order due to their anti-crisis toolkit applied in the past. So, the independence of central banks looks like an obsolete concept in these circumstances. Given the downward trend of globalization, the idea of central bank independence will be exposed to radical transformation within the revamped underlying economic theory free from an excessive neoliberal background.
Globalization under the umbrella of neoliberal ideology has been the key feature of the development of the economy worldwide in 1990-2000s. Free movement of goods, services, capital and labour served as a dominant idea underpinning this kind of economic integration. According to the supporters of the mentioned dogma, this type of economic relationships, which stems from the Comparative Cost Advantage Theory proposed by David Ricardo, is the best possible option to benefit all sides involved in such cooperation in the area of production and free-trade. Therefore the role of state intervention, through applying a regulatory toolkit, was set to be minimal within then dominant economic ideology.
Central bank was to be a reliable watchdog to guarantee the free movement of capital that is the cornerstone of globalization. Thus,  as Adam Tooze phrased in: ”if the freedom of capital movement was the belt, then central bank independence was the buckle on the free-market Washington Consensus of the 1990s”. By such independence it was meant that monetary technocrats were able to withstand the pressure of politics and organized labour to meet their demands. This concept favoured technocratic calculation, institutional independence, and nondiscretionary rules aimed to establish low-inflation macroeconomic environment. In public opinion, the stagflation of 1970s, which marked the crisis of Keynesian theory (which is experiencing a sort of renaissance today), is credited for arising the monetarists system of believes. The latter further transformed into the independence of central bank concept. Surprisingly, a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire are believed to contribute significantly to the establishment of the mentioned idea even earlier. According to Quinn Slobodian, the concept of independent central bank is rested on the neoliberal “encasement” of market forces from the pressures of democracy through transnational governance. Such “social pressure” includes increasing public needs that are to be funded through the money printing of monetary authorities (mostly, indirect). Thus, the lender of the last resort should “be encased” into the institutional framework allowing it to withstand public and state intervention effectively (as well as, “independent” from national government).
The existing of the described ideological orientations may partially explain why Margaret Thatcher, the “Political Godmother” of Western neoliberal and conservative transformation, opposed central bank independence mistrusting the ability of such institution to steer effectively the economy via interest rate setting up (the main toolkit within this theoretical approach). Nevertheless, she did not manage to block the diffusion of the doctrine into political and financial discourse across the globe. So, the community of central bankers lived through the “Golden days” in the 1990-2000s, while enjoying the perks of the status of unelected “Lords of finance”.
“This music will sound forever” is the most suitable term to portray the type of complacency amongst the political and financial elite during the above-mentioned Great Moderation period of comprehensive prosperity in the economy worldwide. Unfortunately, even the high-flying gurus of central banking found themselves helpless against the backdrop of the Great Financial Crisis 2007-8. Moreover, the massive anti-crisis measures, including different sorts of central banks’ “quantitative easing” (QE) programs, resulted in the “New Normal”. The latter definition was used to describe the persistently lower short-term output growth in line with immensely low inflation in the leading economies. This situation is completely contrary to the case of 1970s stagnation that caused further “monetarists transition”.  Moreover, such macroeconomic situation ideally aligns with the fade of globalization. 
The nature of such economic process was revealed by Adjiedj Bakas that coined the term slowbalization to depict the slowing pace of economic integration around the world in 2008-2018. To illustrate such trend: long-term foreign direct investments by firms has tumbled from 3,5 % of world GDP to 1,3 % percent in 2018. Another striking example is the fact that cross-border bank loans have collapsed from 60% of GDP in 2006 to about 36% in 2018. Given the tariff wars and shift in the functioning of supply chains worldwide, it would be useful to foresee the possible trend of globalization if the described situation were not become reality. A phase of saturation was supposed to appear in such case due to the possible situation, when the pull of labour and multinational investment in physical assets have become less important. Moreover, financialization of the economy at the cost of production would only have restored its positions: financial flows such as bank loans had picked up as the shock of financial crisis receded and Asian financial institutions gained more reach abroad.
Thus, the existential crisis of dominant economic model of globalization rested on the neoliberal paradigm could have lost its momentum because of objective drawbacks and vulnerabilities of the mentioned economic theory. Even before the СOVID-19 crisis became obvious, the former Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney
acknowledged that two items hold a special place among the main “lies of finance”: “Markets always clear” and “Markets are moral”. Given the failure of economical theoretical framework, the concept of the independence of central bank needs critical reassessment from the perspective of its adequacy to the current period of modern economy and finance development.
A decade of below-target inflation prompted the well-known across the globe gurus of finance and banking to admit that the current mandate of a central bank under the umbrella of “institutional independence” needs radical transformation. According to
Larry Summers and Anna Stansbury: “Central banks cannot always set inflation rates through monetary policy“. It is worth considering that COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the described trend. Markets suddenly found themselves functioning in the “free money” environment. This term was proposed by The Economist to depict the situation in which a large-scale government borrowing and central banks’ monetary injections, against the background of COVID-19 crisis, caused a huge amount of financial resources circulating around the world at an interest rate of near-zero or negative level. In such macroeconomic environment deficits and money-printing may well become the standard tools of policymaking for decades.
Nevertheless “free money” world order poses a significant threat to the classic imagination about central bank independence. First of all, the mammoth volume of today’s government borrowing is favoured by low interest rates
. The IMF predicts that rich countries will borrow 17 % of their combined GDP this year. Thus, the pressure on the setters of interest rates (central banks) sharply rises affecting the technocratic nature of decision-making process at the monetary authorities. The temptation of top-officials to cut the cost of sovereign borrowing by leaving minimal interest rates as long as possible is strong nowadays. Given this fact, the leading central banks may be compared with servants working as the government’s debt-management arms. Secondly, the upward trend of money printing by monetary regulators, in order to fund government borrowing, also undermines their independence. In the USA, Great Britain, the Eurozone and Japan central banks have created new reserves of money worth about $3.7 trn. in 2020. Thus, it would be quite logical to support the experts of the Bank for International Settlements, who proclaimed that “the fine line between monetary policy and government debt management has become blurred”.
In the light of the failure of existing neoliberal economic order, the current concept of the independence of central banks is obsolete and inadequate to the modern world’s realities. It may be predicted a significant shift in dominant political economy doctrine towards expanding the level of state intervention in the economy and financial markets, stimulating the aggregate demand at the economy, and the transformation of redistributive mechanism to fight social inequality. All the above notions will affect the tasks of a central bank prompting to broaden its mandate. For example, safeguarding the stability of a banking system may become the cornerstone task of monetary authorities, while some sub-tasks may become of significant importance within central bank’s framework (including the avoidance of market bubbles arising, overcoming technological challenges, etc.). To weather successfully the looming economic disaster, the newly-established concept of modern central bank and promotion the economic leadership under its umbrella are crucially needed. Those countries that are able to tackle this challenge will be subsequently granted the title of Post-Covid-19 economic recovery champion.
———————-
* Vadym Syrota (PhD) is an independent banking expert and former official of the National Bank of Ukraine (central bank) at banking supervision and financial stability departments. He is
a regular contributor to the Kennan Institute blog (Woodrow Wilson Center, USA) and numerous Ukrainian business and economic media outlets.
———————-

For critical accounts of the ‘Central Bank Independence’ concept see:

— Adolph, Christopher. 2013. Bankers, Bureaucrats, and Central Bank Politics: The Myth of Neutrality. Cambridge University Press.
— Epstein, Gerald. 2019. The Political Economy of Central Banking: Contested Control and the Power of Finance. Edward Elgar.
Hancké, Bob. 2013. Unions, Central Banks, and EMU: Labour Market Institutions and Monetary Integration in Europe. Oxford University Press.

— Maman, Daniel and Zeev Rosenhek. 2011. The Israeli Central Bank: Political Economy, Global Logics and Local Actors. Routledge.
— Tognato, Carlo. 2012. Central Bank Independence: Cultural Codes and Symbolic Performance. Palgrave.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Community members posts | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Great academic opportunities: 18 PhD fellowships, 12 calls for papers, 6 jobs, 2 winter schools, a post-doc, an award

Dear ES/PE community member, see below a list of great academic opportunities:call for papers 18 PhD fellowships, 12 calls for papers for online/off-line conferences and special issues, 6 job openings, 2 winter schools, a post-doc position, and an award in various areas of economic sociology, political economy, and related fields, with August 24 — October 1 deadlines. Share this post with your colleagues and students. Best wishes and good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: Financial History Research Network webinars, once a month starting in September 2020. DL: August 24

> CfP: “The Positive and the Normative in Economic Thought” conference, Collège International de Philosophie (Paris, France), 16-18 December, 2020. DL: September 1

> CfP: “Towards a Political Economy of Ecology: Transformations of the Social Relationship with Nature“, Régulation Review: Capitalism, Institutions, Power‘s special issue. DL: September 2

> CfP: “Corruption, Rent-Seeking Behaviour and Informal Practices in Institutional Contexts” online workshop series, every Friday in November 2020 (6, 13, 20, 27). No fee. DL: September 7

> CfP: “Making space for the new state capitalism”, EPA: Economy and Space’s special issue. DL: September 15

CfP: “Justice, Equity and the Circular Economy“, Local Environment‘s special issue. DL: September 15

> CfP: “Digitizing Valuation“, Valuation Studies‘ special issue. DL: September 15

> CfP: “EU Financial Regulation and Markets: Beyond Fragmentation and Differentiation” conference, Jean Monnet module “EU Financial Regulation and Markets“, Faculty of Law University of Zagreb (Slovenia), 26-27 November, 2020. Authors may choose between “in residence” or virtual presentations. DL: September 15

> CfP: “Trade Wars after Coronavirus: Economic, political and theoretical implications“, World Economics Association conference, online, 5th October to 5th December, 2020. DL: September 15

> CfP: “So­cial and Cultural As­pects of Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy” edited volume and workshop, University of Helsinki (Finland). January 2021. DL: September 30

>  CfP: “Financialisation“, Review of Evolutionary Political Economy‘s special issue. DL: October 1 

> CfP: “Employment Relations as Networks: Methods and Theory” edited book. DL: October 1

Postdoctoral Positions: 

> Post-doctoral position on Socially Responsible Public Procurement in the European Union, the Technical University of Vienna (Austria). DL: September 15

PhD Fellowships:

> 5 PhD studentships in various topics in Economic Sociology and Political Economy regarding Covid-19, Department of People and Organisations, The Open University Business School. DL: September 7

5 PhD positions in Economic Sociology & Labour Studies, University of Milan (Italy). Fully taught in English. DL: September 14

> 3 PhD positions in the frame of  MARKETS: Mapping Uncertainties, Challenges and Future Opportunities of Emerging Markets: Informal Barriers, Business Environments and Future Trends in Eastern Europe, The Caucasus and Central Asia, Dublin City University (Ireland). DL: September 25

> 6 PhD positions at “The Economic Impact of Digital Transformation” programme, Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). DL: September 30

Job openings:

> A tenure stream position in African Diasporas and Development in the Global South focusing on political economy, The Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough (Canada). DL: August 24

> Full Professor in Economic Sociology, The University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). DL: August 31

> Tenure-track faculty position in Global Affairs specializing in international political economy or global governance, from sociological or political perspective, Yale-NUS College (Singapore). DL: September 1

> Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Economics, The Open University (Milton Keynes, UK). The successful candidate should be committed to developing pluralist economics teaching and interdisciplinary research. DL: September 14

> Tenure Track Assistant Professorship at the Department of International Economics, Government and Business, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). The core research areas of the department unite the study of states, markets, and international firms in the context of societal challenges. DL: September 24

> Fellow & Cluster Leader – Business, Markets & State, The Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex (UK). DL: September 27

Winter Schools:

> CfA: The 2nd Winter Institute for the History of Economic Thought, Arizona State University,  a Zoom webinar, January 22–23, 2021. A $500 stipend will be paid to each of the 10 presenters. DL: September 1

> CfA: “Capitalism in Global Crisis: Economic Transformations, New Authoritarianism, and Resistance“, the DiscourseNet winter school, University of Valencia (Spain), January 13–15, 2021. Free of charge. Keynoter: Ngai-Ling Sum.  DL: September 30

Contest:

> “Visualizing Student Debt” — The VizE Lab and the Dignity+Debt Network are calling for data visualizations, maps, or short documentaries and photography that portray student loan debt. 5 finalists will win awards of $1,000 each. DL: September 19

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Academic announcements, Books | Leave a comment

The Return of the State

        “Stop! Wait! Government’s no longer the problem — it’s the solution.”

For in-depth discussions on various angles of the ‘State (in the Economy)’ topic:
Bourdieu, Pierre. 2015. On the State: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1989-92. Polity.
— Jessop, Bob. 2015. The State: Past, Present, Future. Polity.
— Kelton, Stephanie. 2020. The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy. Public Affairs.
Skidelsky, Robert. 2020.
What’s Wrong with Economics? A Primer for the Perplexed. Yale University Press.

***
Join Economic Sociology and Political Economy community via
Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Whatsapp / Instagram / Tumblr / Telegram

Posted in Books | Tagged , | Leave a comment