Franz Oppenheimer — The Law of Transformation and Social Market Economy

by Stephen I. Ternyik*

Franz Oppenheimer (1864-1943) was a German-Jewish physician, economist and sociologist, mainly known for his noted book The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically (1908/1920) and for laying the foundations for Zionist cooperative settlements.
Franz OppenheimerFranz Oppenheimer would become the first full professor of sociology in Germany (1919-1929, Frankfurt University), but his research interest into ‘social laws’ was awakened as practicing physician (1884-1895) in the poverty ridden zones of the German capital. His first publication on communal settlements (Oppenheimer 1896) for poverty alleviation formed the foundation of his sociological ambition which is marked by the methodical application of natural science, i.e. the circumspection or caution of a careful physician. The nucleus of this study project contains Oppenheimer’s transformation law for cooperative human communities, most probably based on the Prussian colonial experiments with village-like settlements in the Eastern territories which worked well for centuries, until the dawn of industrial capitalism.
Around the years of 1900, Oppenheimer developed a significant empirical and historical influence on Theodor Herzl who immediately realized the immense scientific input for Zionist practice; Oppenheimer used all available public Zionist channels, private enterprises like the ‘Jüdische Orient-Kolonisations gesellschaft / Shaare Zion’ (Jewish Society for the Colonization of the Orient) and profound interpersonal communications with Zionist leaders to further his cooperative ideas about communal settlements to alleviate poverty and misery. Oppenheimer viewed communal settlements and working cooperatives as an effective tool to better the living conditions for a mass of people, under the economic conditions of earning wages in the capitalist monetary system. Applying his scientific knowledge to the special case of the Jewish people, he preferred to test his approach on the German countryside in Prussia or Galicia (Austria) via a pilot model community for later dissemination in the land of Israel. The Kishinev Pogrom (1903) – an anti-Jewish massacre  that aroused worldwide attention on the persecution of Jews, converted Franz Oppenheimer into a committed Zionist who wanted to help his fellow Jews (in Eastern Europe) out of misery and persecution.
Oppenheimer’s Law of Transformation can be read as the paradox of cooperative economics and it refers to macro-social dynamics: the beginning of a cooperative group endeavor will end up in a capitalist calculation enterprise or cease to exist as long as the macro-social conditions are based on capitalist monetization and accounting. Knowledge is about predictability and wisdom is about outcome: the later Kibbutzim were from the Oppenheimer viewpoint a survival mechanism which will be inevitably followed by economic means of privatization. 
Oppenheimer’s circumspection is inspired by the caution of the careful physician and the transformative law of communal settlements does not exclude dynamic efficiency, i.e. the successful integration of short-and long-term economic sustainability. Of course, many other social scientists — Nikolai Bukharin, Karl Polanyi, Joseph Schumpeter, and Oskar Lange — have grappled with transformative questions; however, Oppenheimer clearly formulated the prospect that as long as the macro-economic accounting system is governed by private capital calculation, no communal settlement can survive without adapting this economic model. Oppenheimer’s circumspection is confirmed by the material history of capitalism. All of our economic accounting systems derive from the 5000 years old Sumer-Babylonian calculation model to expand privatized property via monetary exchange, credit and interest; industrial capitalization, since about 500 years, extended technically the ancient feudal limitations of natural land and human labor, but our economic formulae are socially still based on property relations and transactions, measured in monetary units. It is also interesting to note that Oppenheimer viewed the institution of a state as a means to protect the economic interests of the dominant property owners (rentiers), i.e. as a social reflection of the ownership structure on a given territory.
One other important decisive impact of Oppenheimer’s scientific approach is the social market economy in Germany which was modelled by Ludwig Erhard (1897-1977) who was a doctoral student of Franz Oppenheimer and who pragmatically transformed the deep insights of his teacher into political practice; such is the interplay of social science and human praxis. The eminent intellectual influence of Theodor Hertzka (1845-1924) and Henry George (1837-1897) on Oppenheimer, concerning the decisive role of land rent and monetary interest on economic production, must be mentioned here, to remember the central reform ideas of free land (free from rent) and free money (free from debt) before the turn of the century. Oppenheimer’s circumspection, however, enabled him to look around the corner of macro social dynamics and to envision a free market society; cooperative economics is a tool for universal human emancipation and he was aware of the fact that such social transformations do come in gradual instalments, i.e. social systems evolution cannot be forced, but has to be studied profoundly and human action has to be cautious, to avoid nonvoluntary side effects.
The paradox of cooperative economics can be balanced by improving the accounting methods of human exchange; land (natural resources), money (measurement unit for calculations/payments/exchange) and economic valuation (price formation) are vital factors of human living chances that depend on the basic principle of resource allocation efficiency. The cooperative idea of communal settlements as an alternative lifestyle has a definite future for a critical mass of people, especially under the participatory agenda of ecological democracy for land, labor and money, but we should indeed try to formulize the transformative laws as cautious working tools and memorize Oppenheimer’s circumspection for prospective enterprises.

References:
— Barkai, Haim. 1999. “Franz Oppenheimer’s transformation law and the recent trend towards privatization in the Kibbutz”. In Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Franz Oppenheimer und die Grundlegung der Sozialen Marktwirtschaf, edited by Elke V. Katowksi, Julius N. Schoeps and Bernhard Vogt. Berlin: Philo.
— Russell, Raymond, Robert Hanneman and Shlomo Getz. 2015. The Renewal of the Kibbutz: From Reform to Transformation. New Jersy: Rutgers University Press.

— Oppenheimer, Franz. 1896. Die Siedlungsgenossenschaft. Leipzig: Duncker/Humblot.
— Palgi, Michal and Shulamit Reinharz (ed). 2014. One Hundred Years of Kibbutz Life. NJ: Transaction.
— Polanyi, Karl. 1944.  The Great Transformation. London: V. Gollancz.
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* Stephen I. Ternyik is an economist, educator and entrepreneur who pursued studies in social science in Berlin, Tokyo, New York and Jerusalem.

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Great academic opportunities: 17 calls for papers, 6 postdocs, 5 jobs, 4 visiting positions, PhD fellowship

Dear ES/PE community member, see below a list of  great academic call for papersopportunities: 17 calls for papers for conferences and workshops (some are partially or fully funded), 6 post-doc positions, 5 job openings, 4 visiting positions, a PhD fellowship — in various areas of economic sociology, political economy, and related fields, with December 6 – January 6 deadlines. Share this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: “Organizing Sustainably: Actors, Institutions and Practices“, the 15th Organization Studies Workshop, Crete (Greece), 20-3 May 2020. DL: December 6

> CfP: “Bridging Divides: Challenging Colonialism and Anti-blackness“, the Society for Socialist Studies conference, University of Western Ontario (Canada), June 1-3, 2020. A limited number of travel grants are available. DL: December 6

> CfP: “The Role of Economic Experts in Crisis-Prone Societies” workshop,  University of Naples (Italy), 15-18 April 2020. DL: December 10

> CfP: “Social Inequalities and Cohesion”, the European Consortium of Sociological Research annual conference, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 1-3, 2020. Keynoters: Alice Goisis (University College London), Joscha Legewie (Harvard), Borja Martinovic (Utrecht). DL: December 13

> CfP: “Expected Inequalities and Unintended Symmetries“, the 8th Unintended Consequences workshop, University of Warsaw (Poland), 11-12 May 2020. Keynoters: Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison. DL: December 15

> CfP: “Degrowth: Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation” conference, University of Vienna (Austria ) May 29 – June 1, 2020. DL: December 15

> CfP: The 2nd International Conference on Policy Diffusion and Development Cooperation, Federal University of São Paulo (Brazil), 25-27 May, 2020. Global South scholars have 40% fee reduction. Keynoters: Claire Dunlop, Benjamin Cashore, Eugene McCann. DL: December 15

> CfP: “Capitalist Realism: 10 Years On” symposium, University of Huddersfield (UK), February 15-16, 2020. Keynoter: Sukhdev Sandhu (NYU). Free registration for presenters without institutional funding. DL: December 16

> CfP: “New Perspectives on Interwar Financial and Banking Crises” conference,  Paris School of Economics (France),  June 29-30, 2020. Organisers can cover the accommodation and travel costs. DL: December 16

> CfP: “Flowing Markets“, the 6th Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop and PhD pre-workshop day, Sciences Po Grenoble (France) Grenoble,  3-5 June, 2020. Keynoters: Marieke de Goede, Brett Christophers. DL: December 20

> CfP: “The Politics of Finance – Creditworthiness, Credibility and Reputation on Global Markets” interdisciplinary conference, International History Department, Graduate Institute Geneva (Switzerland), 18-19 June 2020. Funding opportunities are available to defray travel and accommodation expenses. DL: December 20

> CfP: “Capitalism and Contention”, a conference on the intersection of political economy and social movement studies, Department of Sociology, New York University (NY, USA), 13-15 March 2020. Keynoter: Vivek Chibber (NYU). DL: December 31

> CfP: “Culture and Economics“, the 5th International Economic Philosophy Conference, University of Warsaw (Poland), 24-26 June 2020. Keynoters: Mary Morgan (LSE), Raquel Fernández (NYU), Kacper Pobłocki (Warsaw). DL: December 31

> CfP and artworks: “Economia – The Limited Edition” conference aims to invent new avenues for playful and imaginative future developments in economics, economy and alternative value systems, Natlab, Eindhoven (The Netherlands), 15-16 May 2020. Limited funding available to support the travel and accommodation. DL: December 3

> CfP: Labor Research and Action Network (LRAN) National Conference, Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA, USA), March 12-13, 2020. DL: January 3

> CfP: “Economic Development” conference organised jointly by the Japanese Association for Development Economics and Centre for Economic Policy Research, University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan), 18- 19 April, 2020. DL: January 5

> CfP: The Cambridge Journal of Economics conference in heterodox economics and related social science disciplines, Newnham College, Cambridge (UK), 8-9 September 2020. DL: January 6

Postdoctoral Positions: 

> Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Regional Political Economy (one year; regarding Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America), Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance (NCGG) at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. DL: December 9

> Postdoctoral Research Associate, Globalization and Governance Program (one year; international and comparative political economy, global governance, globalization), Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. DL: December 9

> Postdoctoral Reseacher to join the project on the socio-economic aspects of market emergence for quantum computing (prior understanding of quantum computing or quantum physics is not expected), Department of Management Studies, Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland). DL: December 15

> Postdoctoral fellow in Ageing and Social Change (up to 2 years), Linköping University (Sweden). DL: December 15

Postdoctoral position “Resolving Precariousness: Advancing the Theory and Measurement of Precariousness across the Paid / Unpaid Work Continuum” (one year), Centre for Sociological Research, Unit Work and Organisations, KU Leuven (Belguim). DL: December 15

> Postdoctoral Scholar, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality, the CUNY Graduate Center (Manhattan, NYC). DL: December 22

PhD Fellowships:

> PhD Scholarship in “Capitalism and Labour Exploitation: the Role of Accounting in the Maritime Labourers’ Market“, University of Greenwich (UK). DL: December 16

Job openings:

> Research Fellow, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, Aston University (Birmingham, England, UK). DL: December 18 

> Assistant Professor in Feminist Political Economy (Tenure Track), Department of Political Science, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (USA). DL: December 28

> Assistant Professor in Social Networks and Inequalities, Department of Sociology,  Hong Kong Baptist University. DL: December 31

> Professor in Urban Studies within Economic Geography / Economic History / Economic Sociology areas, Malmö University (Sweden). DL: January 3

> Lecturer in Political Economy (tenured, full-time), Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia). DL: January 6

Visiting positions:

> Visiting Fellowship Program in Regional Political Economy (one year; regarding Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America), Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance (NCGG) at Princeton University‘s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. DL: December 9

> Visiting Globalization and Governance Fellowship Program, (one year; international and comparative political economy, global governance, globalization), Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. DL: December 9

> Visiting Fellowships in the History of Political Economy for senior scholars / junior scholars / final-year PhD students at Center for the History of Political Economy, Duke University (NC, USA). DL: January 6

> USC Berggruen Visiting Fellowships (one-year) in areas related to “Great Transformations: Future of Capitalism” projects, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA, USA). DL: January 6

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Is the United States the Champion of Global Finance or its Victim? A New Look at the Fed’s Low-inflation Policy

By Arie Krampf*

My article “Monetary Power Reconsidered: The Struggle between the Bundesbank and the Fed over Monetary Leadership”, recently published in International Studies Quarterly, contributes to the burgeoning literature that challenges the US-hegemony hypothesis in the global financial sub-order. It follows the path of several scholars, who question whether the shape of the international monetary and financial system has been consistent with the US interests and whether the US had the capacity to set rules for the world.  In his book Capital Rules: The Construction of Global Finance, Rawi Abdelal, one of those scholars, argues that the US-hegemony hypothesis is “the most important misconception of the conventional account” regarding the role of the United States. The United States, he argues, played an essential role in pushing for financial liberalization, however, “neither the U.S. Treasury nor Wall Street has preferred or promoted multilateral, liberal rules for global finance. The US approach to globalization has been neither organized nor rules-based, but rather ad hoc” (Abdelal 2007: 3). In my article, I demonstrate this general claim by tracing the struggle between the United States and its G5 allies regarding the consolidation of a particular type of rule: the rule of very low inflation targeting.
Rather than summarizing the argument—for a summary, one can have a quick look at the abstract and the conclusion of the article—I would like to take the opportunity here to invite the readers into the “editing room” and the research process, sharing with them the rejected hypotheses I had to leave on the floor before reaching a convincing argument, consistent with the historical findings.
***
The origin of this project is in a historical puzzle. While going over published and unpublished documents from the 1980s and the 1990s, I found that until 1989, there was no consensus among central bankers and economists regarding the desirability of very low inflation targeting. The lack of consensus was surprising, because since 1991 or 1992 economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) talk about a “consensus” on very low inflation targeting as fact of nature. The discursive change was radical, immediate and pervasive.
“Something” must have happened between 1989 and 1991, I thought, that caused this drastic discursive change. Nevertheless, I was not sure what kind of event to look for.

My first intuition was to follow a constructivist approach and search for the ideational entrepreneurs that changed the discourse. The first suspects were the central bankers and economists. It is not indisputable that, since the 1970s, academic economists had promoted the idea of independent and conservative central banking, so it was reasonable to assume that those ideas penetrated the circle of central banking practitioners. On that account, I searched for the traces of the process.
However, I could not find any evidence supporting this mechanism of change. The findings suggested, instead, that until 1989 the economists at the IMF and BIS advocated a more balanced approach to inflation. They believed central banks should watch for various economic indicator simultaneously: inflation, growth, employment, the exchange rate and the balance of payment. Also, the position of central bankers diverged: France and Japan favored an outward-oriented monetary policy, while the Fed, the Bundesbank and the Bank of England favored a more inward-oriented policy, focusing on the inflation level. There was no indication that before 1990 any of the key central bankers was influenced by the academic literature on independent central banking, besides perhaps in the United States.
Given the “heterogeneity” of the discourse, I had to rule out the constructivist mechanism. Central bankers, indeed, operated as an
epistemic communityas the constructivist theory often suggests—but until 1989 the community was far from sharing the same policy ideas. Those findings did not sit very well with the predictions of the constructivist theory.
Once I realized that the constructivist approach does not solve the puzzle, I resorted to a power-based mechanism of change. A power-based mechanism suggests that the consensus on low inflation emerged because powerful actors reformulated their interests and preferences. But why would they do that? One possible cause is the hierarchical structure of the international monetary system, with the US dollar at the top of it. Within the power-based literature, the common argument is that throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the United States—or the Fed—was the single most powerful actor in the international arena. Therefore, if a global consensus consolidated it must have been an outcome of the US power.
Two types of problems undermine the US-hegemony hypothesis. First, surprising as it might sound, there is no economic or political-economic theory that can explain why the United States would have liked other countries to target very low inflation. We have, rather, very persuasive rationales which explain why the United States benefited from operating in a global environment of weak currencies. During the 1980s, the interest rate differentials between the Fed and the other central banks enabled the United States to maintain its role as a monetary leader and to attract foreign capital which financed its domestic investment and trade deficit. The low inflation regime made it more difficult for the United States to attract foreign capital.

Moreover, the US was the single most powerful actor. Therefore, it had a preference for pragmatism and ambiguity, which enabled it to realize its power and to shift the burden of adjustment to its peers. Most notably, during the 1980 the United States made successful attempts to pressure Germany (and the Bundesbank) to exercise a more accommodative monetary policy (see the Plaza Accord). There is no reason why the United States would have liked to change this status-quo.
The second problem was more crucial: going over the archival material, particularly the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which is the decision making body of the Fed, I found “smoking gun” evidence that the United States—the Fed and the Treasury—were very clearly not enthusiastic, to say the least, about the tightening of monetary policies among the G5 partners. The documents show that Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Fed, who is known for its conservative monetary position, rather than encouraging other central banks to follow his legacy, was highly concerned by the global “conservative tide,” as he put it.
Fed Inflation BundesbankTherefore, if not the economists nor the United States, there was only a single other usual suspect to examine: the Bundesbank – the central bank of Germany.

The Bundesbank is well known for its preferences for tight monetary policy. Moreover, there is evidence that the Bundesbank—and Germany—was not happy with the not-conservative-enough policies of its peers in Europe and worldwide. Hence, it was reasonable to assume and not too hard to establish that the Bundesbank would have liked other central banks to embrace a more conservative approach. However, did the Bundesbank have the capacity to achieve this goal, given the opposition of the United States—the Fed and the Treasury—and of other powerful countries in the Groups of 5?
At that point, I needed a theory of monetary power, which could explain how the second most powerful country (or a central bank) in terms of monetary power—Germany—could force the single most powerful country—the United States—to absorb the burden of adjustment.

We need to roll back a little bit.
What is monetary power? The structural theory of monetary power, which is mostly associated with the work of Benjamin Cohen (2006), argues that the United States is by far the most powerful country in terms of monetary power, because of its size and the extensive use of the dollar as an international currency. Monetary power, in this context, implies that when two states face current account imbalances, the more powerful country can use its monetary power to shift the burden of adjustment to the less powerful one, which has to change it domestic policies accordingly. This theory does an excellent job in explaining the relative stability of the international monetary and financial system over the long-run, or in other words, the US monetary hegemony. But it fails to explain why, in certain circumstances, the single most powerful actor loses.
Contrary to Cohen, other scholars—for example, David Lake, Rawi Abdelal, Andrew Walter and Jonathan Kirshner—reminds us that the geopolitical hierarchy of money depends not only on the size of the economy, on trade and the current accounts, but also on capital flows. States compete over financial flows: capital flows can lift countries from the ashes, and they can also enslave them and make them addicted to foreign investment. When a country is able to divert financial flows to its own advantage, it has institutional monetary power.
Countries that have superior institutional monetary power can divert financial flows so as to shift the burden of adjustment to their peers. However, and this is the crucial point, institutional monetary power is much more susceptible to idiosyncratic historical events than the conventional structural monetary power. Therefore, institutional monetary power can explain “fluctuations” in the global hierarchy of money in the short-run.
The concept of institutional monetary power was the missing link that enabled me to explain how Germany (or the Bundesbank) could shift the burden of adjustment to the United States and make the latter accept the low inflation regime, despite its opposition to this idea and superior structural monetary power. During the period between 1989 and 1991 unique historical circumstances enabled the Bundesbank to take a go-it-alone move and raise the interest rate dramatically and rapidly (from 2 to 6 percent within less than two years), irrespective of the international repercussions. Given liberalized financial markets and rapid capital flows, the Bundesbank’s move triggered a cross-national sequence of events. First, the Bank of France started to follow the Bundesbank and then the Bank of Japan. By the 1990, the Fed found itself operating in a completely new environment. Rather than leading the G5 central banks, it had to follow them.
The conservative tide among the central banks was therefore interpreted by the Fed as an offensive move against the dollar. FOMC members complained about the “box we’re in with respect to the interactions between domestic interest rates, foreign interest rates… and the exchange rate.” The Fed was in a deadlock: it could not raise the rate and protect the dollar because of the sluggish domestic economy and it could not lower rate because of the international circumstances. The way out of the box required a fiscal reform: the Treasury had to make a drastic cut in budget deficit and public spending, which would lower the US “addiction” to foreign capital. After the administration failure to persuade the G5 to adopt a coordinated expansive fiscal policy, the US sitting president, George H. W. Bush, had to break one of his key election promises (“read my lips”), and implement a severe fiscal reform, cut the budget and raise taxes, a policy which was followed by his Democratic successor, Bill Clinton.
The article, therefore, makes two key contributions. The theoretical contribution lies in the distinction between structural monetary power and institutional monetary power. Whereas the former explains the stability of the international monetary and financial system, the latter explains how historical events, which affect financial flows, can lead to long-lasting institutional changes. The historical contribution is the claim that the United States, which is often perceived as the champion of financial globalization, was in practice of victim of it.
***
The theoretical and historical analyses as presented above are likely to be of interest to monetary aficionados. But the article has some broader implications for IPE scholars, who are interested in the bigger picture. What the article demonstrates, in broad brush strokes, is that the international regime, which emerged in the 1990s—the neoliberal regime—was not the result of the US power but rather the result of its relative weakness, of more precisely, its weakening. The United States had to accept an arrangement, which was not its first choice. This claim deserves some clarification.
A common argument is that the neoliberal order was internationalized by United States and that this process was consistent with its interests (Strange 2009; Helleiner 1994; Cohen 2006; Harvey 2005). However, we also know that during the 1980s the hegemonic position of the United States was declining (Keohane 2005). Therefore, as of the 1980s, the United States had to account for the preferences of its allies in the G7 and to coordinate its moves more closely with them. It means the United States capacity to set rules of the world was in decline.
From this perspective, the neoliberal regime was not consistent with the preferences of the United States. The neoliberal regime, as emerged in the 1990s, was a rules-based regime. The rules approach replaced the previous approach of coordination, characterized by pragmatism (Mügge 2011) and ambiguity (Best 2005). Pragmatism and ambiguity enabled the United States to exploit its superior negotiation power. The neoliberal rules, on the other hand, restricted the capacity of the United States to exploit its superior power
.
This somewhat counter-intuitive claim has the merit of clarifying recent puzzling developments in the international arena. In recent years the US, under President Donald Trump, has made significant steps, which have been interpreted as attempts to dismantle the global rules-based order. The new doctrine of the US raised questions among its traditional allies on the other side of the Atlantic. The President of the European Council Donal Tusk asked how come the international rules-based order is being challenged, “not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor: the US”. Tusk, according to the US-weakening hypothesis, receives a very simple answer/reply: the United States challenges the rules-based order because it has never really wanted it.

Bibliography:
— Abdelal, Rawi. 2007. Capital Rules: The Construction of Global Finance. Harvard University Press.
— Best, Jacqueline. 2005. The Limits of Transparency: Ambiguity and the History of International Finance. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
— Cohen, Benjamin J. 2006. “The Macrofoundations of Monetary Power.” Pp. 31-50 in International Monetary Power, edited by David M. Andrews. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
— Gruber, Lloyd. 2000. Ruling the World: Power Politics and the Rise of Supranational Institutions. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
— Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
— Helleiner, Eric. 1994. States and the Reemergence of Global Finance: From Bretton Woods to the 1990s. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
— Keohane, Robert O. 2005. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton University Press.
— Mügge, Daniel. 2011. “From Pragmatism to Dogmatism: European Union Governance, Policy Paradigms and Financial Meltdown.” New Political Economy 16 (2): 185–206. 
— Strange, Susan. 2009. “The Persistent Myth of Lost Hegemony.” International Organization 41 (04): 551–74.
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* Dr. Arie Krampf is a senior lecturer in Political Economy and International Relations at the Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo. He recently published the book The Israeli Path to Neoliberalism: State, Continuity and Change (Routledge, 2018). For his other publications see: www.ariekrampf.com.

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Democratizing Finance: Reducing Inequalities of Income, Wealth and Power

Politics & Society has just published a thought-provoking special issue titled “Democratizing Finance”. This interesting collection of papers resulted from a workshop organized in July 2018 by the late Erik Olin Wright as part of his inspiring Real Utopias Project.
This timely special issue starts with an introduction by Fred Block (read below its open-access version) in which he discusses what the theme “democratizing finance” means. The main use of the term “democratizing finance” in this issues focuses on reducing inequalities of income, wealth, and power, and it follows the general logic that Erik Olin Wright laid out in his books Envisioning Real Utopias (2010) and How to Be an Anticapitalist in the 21st Century (2019). While the contributors share a considerable agreement on why a democratization of the financial industry is an urgent political and social priority, they have some disagreements over the strategies to reach this essential goal.
The issue includes two anchor articles “Finance without Financiers” by Robert C. Hockett and “Financial Democratization and the Transition to Socialism” by Fred Block, and five in-depth commentaries “Economic Democracy and Enterprise Form in Finance” by William H. Simon, “Democratizing Investment” by Lenore Palladino, “Democratizing Finance or Democratizing Money?” by Mary Mellor, “To Democratize Finance, Democratize Central Banking” by David M. Woodruff and “The Politics of Democratizing Finance: A Radical View” by Michael A. McCarthy.
In the introductory essay, Fred Block writes: “Recent decades have demonstrated that finance can be an enormously destructive force as well as a powerful instrument of social reform… Our hope is that these articles help provoke further debate and discussion about the ways that the democratization of finance can be integrated into current political discourse” (p. 489). It seems to me this project definitely did a fine intellectual Democratizing Financework to promote this goal.

— Block, Fred. 2019. “Introduction to the Special Issue.” Politics & Society 47 (4): 483–489 (open-access)
“Democratizing Finance”, Politics & Society special issue

 

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B&B: Not The Nobel Prize winner // Malls and escapism // Capital and corporation // Keynesianism // Slavery and US universities // Middle class // Sex, lies and financial crises

> Congratulations to Mariana Mazzucato for winning the Promoting Economic Pluralism’s Not The Nobel Prize “for reimagining the role of the state and value in economics”. Influenced by Joseph Schumpeter and Karl Polanyi, Professor Mazzucato (University College London) is an author of widely discussed – publicly and academically – books The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths (2013) and The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy (2018)

> “Marx lived long enough to declare himself “not a Marxist.” Keynes was not so lucky”, notes Mike Beggs arguing that Keynesianism differs from the economics of Keynes in his review of Geoff Mann’s In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy, and Revolution (2017)

> While malls crumble in the US and Canada, mall culture blooms in The Philippines. As cathedrals of consumption and suburban consumerism, malls serve as avenues of escapism for most Filipinos, whose daily hardships have made them feel despondent — by Jore-Annie Rico and Kim Robert C. de Leon

> “Minting Capital: The Role of the Corporation”, a video lecture by Katharina Pistor based on her book The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2019)

The first enslaved African in Massachusetts was the property of the schoolmaster of Harvard. Yale funded its first scholarship with the rents from a slave plantation. From their very beginnings, the US universities and slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply — by Alex Carp

> Unlike the US, the UK or other countries, the Netherlands is not witnessing the ‘erosion’ of its middle class. Yet, changes have occurred in Dutch political economy and the middle segment of society since the 1970s — a research by Godfried Engbersen, Erik Snel and Monique Kremer

> Pervasive lies and scandals inflected by gender and ethnicity are the early-warning devices for financial crises and the symptoms of their wilful forgetting. Aida Hozic and Jacqui True present their book Scandalous Economics: Gender and the Politics of Financial Crises (Oxford University Press, 2016)

political economy keynes marx sociology

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Manufacturing Personal Happiness

by Edgar Cabanas‏*

Happiness is one of the most pervasive, fast-spreading, and controvertible phenomena of the twentieth century. Grown into an obsessive pursuit, a lucrative industry, and a flawed albeit very popular science, the pursuit of happiness has woven itself deep into the very fabric of power, decision-making, organizational management, and therapeutic culture on a global scale. Whereas commonly presented as a natural and supreme goal of enormous social and psychological benefits, happiness nonetheless might well not be either the universal and self-evident good that experts claim, nor the alleged remedy for the most pressing ailments of our time but their very symptom ―as well as the cause of some novel forms of anxiety, depression, and suffering. Aiming to contribute to the ongoing debate on happiness studies from a critical sociological Manufacturing Happy Citizensperspective, Manufacturing Happy Citizens: How the Science and Industry of Happiness Control our Lives documents how happiness has developed into an oppressive and exhausting lifestyle that stresses personal responsibility, normalizes self-absorption, fosters consumption, and shapes individuals of advanced capitalist societies in the image and likeness of the neoliberal worldview.
The book starts with arguing against the legitimacy of the science of happiness as science and, by extension, against the validity of happiness as a scientific, measurable, and objective concept. To put it bluntly, the science of happiness has proved to be a weak and highly reductionistic science ― and, as such, so too is the rationale behind the individualistic, ethnocentric, and ideologically saturated notion of human happiness that this science postulates. The repeated affirmation that the science of happiness is a “young science” serve no longer as an excuse: Almost twenty years have already passed since this movement ―with positive psychology at the forefront― presented itself as a revolutionary field aimed at discovering, once and for all, the scientific keys to human happiness. And yet, over 64.000 research studies later, these keys are still nowhere to be found. On the contrary, if something has become clearer is that we are not anywhere nearer a deeper or more consensual understanding of happiness today than we were two decades ago.
But whereas happiness scientists and experts have not discovered the much-hyped keys to happiness, the market nevertheless seems to have found the keys to selling it. Indeed, twenty-first-century capitalism has given birth to a huge and powerful economy of happiness. This is not a figurative expression. Happiness has itself become the main commodity of a global and trillionaire industry that thrives around the offer of and demand for a prolific myriad of highly profitable ‘emodities’ ―that is, emotional services, therapies and commodities produced and consumed qua scientific techniques and psychological management aids to effect some sort of personal transformation. Coaching, mindfulness, self-help literature, positive psychotherapy, or smartphone happiness-apps are just but a few examples of a powerful economy that, taken together, amounts to a $4.2 trillion market that grows 6.4 percent annually. It might well be the case that none of the uncountable happiness products deliver the easy-to-achieve and the long-term beneficial outcomes on health and personal attainment that they so insistently promise. But it is unquestionable that these products have been rather successful in normalizing the obsession with happiness by instilling in consumers the idea that the most functional way of living is to be fixated on our inner and authentic selves, to be continuously preoccupied in managing our emotions, and to be permanently concerned with our personal transformation and betterment.
The stratospheric figures of this market also include the $48 billion that corporations worldwide invest in workplace happiness each year. As documented in the book, the reason why corporations are so interested in happiness goes beyond the widespread albeit unproven organizational mantra that happy employees are more productive: It is not only that. The reason is that happiness has proved to be a useful strategy to justify implicit organizational hierarchies of control and submission to corporate culture. Workplace happiness has indeed come in handy to push responsibility downwards; to get more commitment and performance from workers, often for relatively fewer rewards; to sideline the importance of objective working conditions when it comes to job satisfaction, including salaries; and to facilitate employees’ compliance with corporate culture. Most fundamentally, workplace happiness has proved rather effective to make work contradictions and self-exploitation more tolerable and even acceptable for employees. To be sure, what makes corporations happy is not the same that makes workers happy. Nevertheless, happiness experts, coaches, and emergent figures in the corporate sphere such as the CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) are there ―and handsomely paid for it― to ensure that employees think otherwise.
Aside from controversial institutional uses, happiness is not free from having deep and problematic moral consequences either. Just an example: Happiness scientists, experts and other self-development gurus repeatedly claim that happiness is, first and foremost, a choice we make, an attitude we develop, and an easier-than-we-think goal for everyone to achieve regardless our circumstances ― as factors such as social class, education, material resources and so on do not allegedly play any significant role in people’s happiness. It follows that if the stressed, the depressed, the lonely, or the failed do not lead happier and more fulfilling lives, it is just because they we not tried hard enough; because we have not tuned up our mood and attitudes into a positive mode, or because we have not made lemonade out of the lemons that life gives to us. Nonetheless, as empowering and hopeful as it may sound, the dark side of this message is that suffering is presented as being as much a personal choice as happiness, so those who suffer are hence suspect either of wanting their own misfortune or, worse, of deserving it. Apparently, no matter how inevitable tragedies are, any individual is supposed to be endowed with the inner power to resiliently find their way out of them ―and even to grow stronger from them. The problem is that such a tyrannical belief is only good to hold people responsible for most of their misfortunes and factual powerlessness, no matter how myopic, ungrounded or unfair this may be. Further, such a belief runs the risk of undermining solidarity and political action: In a world where everyone is held responsible for their own suffering, there is little place for pity or compassion. In a world where everyone is said to be inherently equipped with the required mechanisms to turn adversity into advantage, there is little room for complaint, either.
There is an increasing and extended feeling that the notion of happiness that scientists, experts, corporations, and the industry promote is disappointing, inadequate, and frustrating. And there are many reasons to think that this is indeed the case. The more we know about this phenomenon the more it seems that all that glitters in happiness is not gold. The merchants of happiness offer little more than the idea that complex and social problems have individual and easy fixes. The message is enticing, but it is not only at odds with reality. It might well end up turning against us by producing nothing but guilt, exasperation, and a wrong sense of deservingness, as well ―especially in the most vulnerable. It seems hence the right time to seize on these feelings of suspicion and disenchantment and seriously rethink happiness. From top to bottom.
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* Edgar Cabanas is Research Fellow at Universidad Camilo José Cela. He is the author of Manufacturing Happy Citizens: How the Industry and Science of Happiness Control our Lives (Polity, 2019), co-written with Eva Illouz and translated to more than 10 languages, as well as the author of several scientific papers and book chapters. He is also co-editor of Routledge’s series on Therapeutic Culture since 2018, and researcher in several R&D international projects. Find more on Research Gate and Twitter @ecabanasd

Manufacturing Happy Citizens How the Science and Industry of Happiness Control our Lives

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Great academic opportunities: 18 calls for papers, 7 postdocs, 4 jobs, 2 visiting positions, 2 PhD fellowships, 2 winter schools

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great academic call for papersopportunities: 18 calls for papers for conferences and workshops (some are partially or fully funded), 7 post-doc positions, 4 job openings, 2 visiting positions, 2 PhD fellowships, 2 winter schools — in various areas of economic sociology, political economy, and related fields, with October 25 – November 24 deadlinesShare this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: “Money Power in Politics” conference, University of Hyderabad (India), 9-10 January, 2020. DL: October 30

> CfP: “Critical Differences at Work“, The 38th International Labour Process Conference, Newcastle University (Newcastle, UK), 15-17 April 2020. DL: October 30

> CfP: “Disrupting Technology: Contextualising Continuity and Change in Technology, Work and Employment” workshop, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change, University of Leeds (UK), 16-17 January 2020. There are limited travel and fee bursaries for low-income and early-career researchers. DL: October 31

> CfP:  “Minsky at 100: Revisiting Financial Instability” international conference, Università Cattolica in Milan (Italy), December 16-17, 2019. The keynoters: Michael Kumhof and Bruce Greenwald. DL: October 31

> CfP: “Frontiers of Political Economy”, The 11th Australian International Political Economy Network workshop, University of Sydney (Australia). Limited travel and accommodation bursaries will be available for HDR students. DL: November 1 

> CfP: “Understanding Inequalities” conference, University of Edinburgh on 9-10th June 2020 (Scotland, UK). The keynoters: Ingrid Schoon,  Susan McVie, Emer Smyth, Patrick Sharkey. DL: November 1

> CfP: “Teaching Ethics To Economists: Challenges and Benefits” workshop, University of Ulster – London (UK ), 20th March 2020. DL: November 1

> CfP: “The International Debt Crisis Revisited, 1979-1991” conference on 16-17 March at and on 18-19 March 2020, University of Florence (Italy). Reasonable travel and accommodation costs will be covered. DL: November. DL: November 3

> CfP: “Inequality and Identity in Consumer Markets, Media and Industries”, the 9th Child and Teen Consumption Conference, Rutgers University – Camden (New Jersey, USA), June 16-18, 2020. The keynoters:  Amy Best, Helle Strandgaard Jensen, Fikile Nxumalo. hD Research Workshop will be held on June 15. DL: November 5

> CfP: “Engaging with Cultural Political Economy: Neoliberal Crises and Diverse Imaginaries”, the 4th International Conference on Cultural Political Economy, University of Lancaster (UK), 8-10 January 2020. DL: November 8

> CfP: The 84th Annual Conference of the Japanese Society for the History of Economic Thought, Hokkaido University (Japan), 30-31 May 2020. DL: November 9

> CfP: “The Great Transition: Building Utopias”, Historical Materialism conference, Montreal (Canada) 21-24 May, 2020. DL: November 11

> CfP: “Varieties of Capitalism in the Mediterranean (18-20 c.)“, the 4th International Conference in Economic and Social History, Ionian University, Corfu (Greece), 1-3 October 2020. The keynoter: Giorgio Riello. DL: November 15

> CfP: The BHC Doctoral Colloquium in Business History, Charlotte, North Carolina (USA), March 12-14, 2020. The colloquium held jointly with the BHC meeting. All participants receive a stipend that partially defrays travel costs. DL: November 15

> CfP: “Change and Exchange“, The International Society for Intellectual History conference, European University Institute (Florence, Italy), 27 – 29 May 2020. The keynoters: Giancarlo Casale, Emmanuelle de Champs, Laszlò Kontler, Glenda Sluga. DL: November 15

> CfP: The 16th Workshop on New Institutionalism in Organization Theory, University of Southern Denmark (Denmark), March 5-6, 2020. DL: November 16

> CfP:  “Political Economy of Agricultural Policies” workshop, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, Halle (Germany), March 5 – 6, 2020. There is no fee for attending the workshop. DL: November 17

> CfP: “Speculative Endeavors: Cultures of Knowledge and Capital in the Long 19th century” conference, University of Bayreuth (Germany), October 22–24, 2020. Organizers hope to be able to cover travel expenses for all speakers. DL: November 22

Postdoctoral Positions: 

> Post-doctoral position in Political Economy and Development, Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon (France). DL: October 25

> Postdoctoral Fellow to work on a “From Entrepreneurship to Rentiership: The Changing Dynamics of Innovation in Technoscientific Capitalism” project, York University, Toronto (Canada). DL: October 31

> Postdoctoral researcher for a comparative project on class analysis, skills and labor market inequalities, Sciences Po (Paris, France). DL: October 31

> Two Postdoctoral researchers for project “Polarization and its discontents: does rising economic inequality undermine the foundations of liberal societies?“, The School of Social Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, (Germany). DL: October 31

> Postdoctoral Position at the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality“, University  of Konstanz (Germany). DL: November 5

> Post-doctoral Researcher on Labour Market Flexibilisation, Leiden Law School (The Netherlands). DL: November 17

PhD Fellowships:

> PhD positions in Economic History, Department of Economy and Society, University of Gothenburg (Sweden). DL: October 31

> PhD candidate in Political Theory of Financial Debt, Department of Political Sciences, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). DL: November 17

Job openings:

> Assistant Professorship (Tenure Track) in International Political Economy, University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). DL: October 25

> Tenure/Tenure Track Business and Public Policy Position, The Business, Government & Society department, University of Texas at Austin (USA). DL: October 31

> Director for the Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies, Trento (Italy). Eligible applicants are professors or researchers in Economics, Sociology, Statistics. DL: November 5

> Lecturer in Economic Sociology, Department of International Business & Economics, University of Greenwich (UK). DL: November 24

Visiting positions:

> Scholar in Residence, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne (Germany). Leading scholar in comparative and international political economy or economic sociology is invited to spend 3-6 months at the Institute. DL: October 31 

> Visiting Fellowship Programme in the History of Knowledge (2 weeks), Lund University (Sweden). DL: November 1

Winter Schools:

> CfA: “EU-Asia Politics and Markets Studies” winter school,  Department of Political and Social Science, University of Bologna (Italy), 17-20 February 2020. No fees; lunches, farewell reception and materials will be available for free. DL: November 10

> CfA: PhD Winter School on “New Political Economy of Europe: Re-Engaging the Street“, The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at University College Dublin (Ireland), 15-16 January 2020. Up to €500 will be covered. DL: November 15

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Neoliberalism. A critical reader.

got banned from the library for moving all the books on trickle down economics to the mythology section (@Nasharchy, May 11, 2017)

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Political Economy: Origins, Meanings, Changes

Political economy should be a human science.”                                                                                                               (Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, 2001, p. 117) 

The definition of Political Economy — as a modern scholarly discipline, a research topic, a sphere of society,  or the realm of polity — has gone through many incarnations over the years, since the phrase ‘political economy’ appeared in Antoine de Montchrétien’s Traicté de l’oeconomie politique in 1615. Four centuries later, the understanding what political economy is about still varies among academics accommodating different university departments: sociology, economics, history, political science, and international studies. The point is that these variations and shifts in grasping political economy are not merely technically semantic; in their essence — consciously or unconsciously, implicitly or explicitly — they rather reflect distinct ontological premises and epistemic presumptions about human life and the mutual embeddedness of State-Economy-Society. Therefore they largely determine and shape the research questions, empirical phenomena, methodology, theoretical frameworks, presented findings, and their analytical explanation. 
what is political economyChanging Perspectives in Political Economy” is an interesting, instructive and worth reading paper by a noted German sociologist Renate Mayntz. (See its open-access copy below). In this new work, Mayntz proficiently addresses the disputed aspects, changing facets and some conventions of political economy, and then shows how they are expressed in academic publications. The paper’s abstract reads as follows: 

“The history of a research field called political economy dates back to the eighteenth century, giving rise to a variety of disciplinary approaches, and experienced a renaissance as a multidisciplinary field after the Second World War, combining economic, political science, and sociological approaches. The divergence between economic globalization and the nationally restricted scope of economic policy directs interest to the relationship between politics and the economy. A quantitative analysis of the articles published in two dedicated political economy journals shows major trends of the developing research field. The relationship between politics and economy is interpreted rather widely, and research is largely focused on Western capitalist nations. In conclusion, two avenues for further research in the field are briefly discussed” 

Already for eight years, this blog plows the ground, disseminates the seeds (of knowledge) and reaps the harvest in these fields of Economic Sociology and Political Economy. As the new academic year begins, I would like to use this opportunity to thank you — each and everyone of (around) 60,000 followers and members of our community from 160 countries. We all together do this work in different plots. So invite your colleagues, students and friends to join our common cause. Spread the word and commit to change. Thank you. — Oleg Komlik
                                                                               ***
Mayntz, Renate. 2019. “Changing Perspectives in Political Economy.” MPIfG Discussion Paper 19/6. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne
See also recent Mayntz’s book: Crisis and Control: Institutional Change in Financial Market Regulation (2012).

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Great academic opportunities: 24 calls for papers, 17 jobs, 4 postdocs, 2 grants, 2 workshops, a PhD fellowship, a short visiting post

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great academic opportunities: call for papers24 calls for papers for conferences and workshops (some are partially or fully funded), 17 job openings, 4 post-doc and temporary positions, 2 research grants, 2 training workshopsa PhD fellowship, a short visiting post — in various areas of economic sociology, political economy, and related fields, with September 9 – October 14 deadlinesShare this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: “Inclusive growth in cities: Theory, evidence and practice” conference, University of Manchester (UK), 19 – 20 November 2019. DL: September 9

> CfP: “Inequality, education, and intergenerational mobility”, The Joachim Herz Foundation workshop, Hamburg (Germany), December 12-13, 2019. Two nights of lodging will be covered; travel funds available. DL: September 15

> CfP: “Between History, Economy and Finance. Public and Private Accounting in Europe in the Modern and Contemporary Age“, the 6th International Conference on the History of Accounting, Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli (Naples, Italy), 7-9 November 2019. DL: September 15

> CfP: “Law and Political Economy: Democracy After Neoliberalism”, The Law and Political Economy Project’s inaugural conference, Yale Law School (USA), April 3-4, 2020. No fee; participants’ hotel accommodations will be covered; travel expenses will be covered for anyone without sufficient funding. DL: September 15

> CfP: “The Afterlives of Development” International Conference, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beer-Sheva, Irael), January 6-7, 2020. DL: September 15

> CfP: The 1st Workshop on Climate Change and Inequality, Copenhagen Business School’s Inequality Platform (Denmark), November 7-8, 2019. The keynoter: John Hassler. Participation is free; meals will be provided. DL: September 15

> CfP: “Innovation networks in regional development” workshop, Research Centre of Economic Analysis and Public Policy, Corvinus University, Budapest (Hungary), 29-30 November, 2019. Participation is free; meals are covered. DL: September 15

> CfP: The 15th Italian Society of Law and Economics annual conference, University of Milan (Italy), December 19-21, 2019. The keynoters: Katharina Pistor, Kaushik Basu, Stefan Grundmann. DL: September 15

> CfP: “Time, Space and Political Economy“, the 3rd Annual Meeting of the the Portuguese Association of Political Economy, University of Porto (Portugal), 30 January – 1 February, 2020. DL: September 16

> CfP: “How public policy affects wellbeing and inequalities” workshop, the Welfare State and Taxation Unit of the Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy, Bocconi University (Milano, Italy). The keynoters: Janet Currie, Andrew Clark. Two nights of accommodation will be provided. DL: September 22

> CfP: “Alternative Research Perspectives in Business Disciplines” conference, University of Technology Sydney (Australia), 2-3 December 2019. DL: September 23

> CfP: “The Political Economy of International Organization”, The 13th Annual Conference, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (Canada), February 20-22, 2020. No registration fee. DL: September 30

> CfP: “Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Intersectionality“, the International Sociological Association Forum for Sociology, Porto Alegre (Brazil), 14-18 July 2020. Look at the special calls of various ISA research committees: RC02 Economy and Society, RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development, RC19 Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy, RC30 Sociology of Work, RC44 Labour Movements and more. DL: September 30

> CfP: “Roads to Resilience“, the 4th Financial Inclusion Conference and Workshop, Sydney (Australia), 18-19 March, 2020. The keynoters: Sharon Collard, Frederick Wherry. DL: September 30

> CfP: The 36th conference of International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, Oslo (Norway), August 24-28, 2020. DL: September 30

> CfP: “Power Sharing or Power Shifts? Examining the role of public-private interactions in global governance“, emerging scholars’ workshop, School of Governance, Technical University of Munich (Germany),  28-29 November, 2019. One night’s accommodation will be covered. DL: September 30

> CfP: “Economic and Financial Networks“, NetSci Workshop for junior scholars, Waseda University, Tokyo (Japan), January 23rd, 2020. To attend the workshop, registration with the NetSci-X 2020 main conference is mandatory (January 20-23) — Rates for students are low. Travel stipend available. DL: September 30

> CfP: “Development Today: Accumulation, Surveillance, Redistribution”, Mini-Conference Themes Proposals for the SASE annual meeting at the University of Amsterdam, 18-20 July 2020. DL: September 30

> CfP: “World-Systems Analysis in a Critical Juncture”, the 44th Annual Conference on the Political Economy of the World-System, Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland and The Arrighi Center for Global Studies at Johns Hopkins University (MD, USA), April 10-11, 2020. DL: October 1

> CfP: “Collaboration in Business and Business History”, the Annual Meeting of the Business History Conference, Charlotte Marriott City Center (North Carolina, USA), March 12-14, 2020. DL: October 1

> CfP: “Good economics in the good economy?” workshop  as a part of the ERC project “Enacting the Good Economy: Biocapitalization and the Little Tools of Valuation”, University of Oslo (Norway), 14-15 October 2019. The keynoters: Kristin Asdal, Eve Chiapello, Andrew Barry. DL: October 2

> CfP: “The Future of Work” conference, University of Birmingham (UK), 2–3 April, 2020. The keynoters: Jacqueline O’Reilly, Daniel Susskind. No conference fee; limited travel and accommodation support will be offered. DL: October 4

> CfP: “Global flow of commodity, money, people, and knowledge“, Applied Network Science‘s special issue. DL: October 7

> CfP: “Prospects of Money: Theories, Developments, and Research Perspectives” workshop for junior scholars, Hamburg Institute for Social Research (Germany), January 23-24, 2020. Travel and accommodation costs are covered. DL: October 14

PhD Fellowship:

> The Facebook Fellowship for PhD students involved in on-going research on Social and Economic Policy, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, more. DL: October 4 

Training workshop:

> CfA: “Working with European Union Labour Force Survey” training course, The GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Mannheim (Germany), 27-29 November 2019. DL: September 30 

> CfP: “Capital”, a Workshop by Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies, Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh, India), November 3-9, 2019. Lodging & food will be provided. DL: October 7

Short Visiting Position:

> “Transtemporal Capitalism”, a funded 3-month Visiting Fellowships at the Institute for European Global Studies, University of Basel (Switzerland). DL: September 29

Postdoctoral and Temporary Positions: 

> A postdoctoral researcher to join studying the Evolution of Industrial  Modernity, University of Tartu (Estonia). DL: September 16

Research Scientist in the Social Study of Markets, College of Business, University College Dublin. The successful candidate will be a member of a five year project “Misfires and Market Innovation: Toward a Collaborative Turn in Organising Markets”. DL: September 20

> Postdoctoral researcher in philosophy of economics to contribute to the research theme “Values in Finance”, The Erasmus University project “Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity” (Rotterdam, The Netherlands). DL: September 30

> Post-doc researcher to support a project on the links between social trust, economic inequality, and governance outcome, United Nations University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research (Helsinki, Finland). DL: October 4

Research Grants:

> Decent Work Standards in the Platform Economy in the Global South“, one-year funded partnerships with the Fairwork project. DL: September 19

>  “The Digitalisation of Working Worlds. Conceptualising and Capturing a Systemic Transformation”, German Research Foundation. DL: October 1

Job openings:

> Head of Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). DL: September 10

> Faculty member in Work, Employment, and Organizations, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA). DL: September 13

> Associate Professorship of Development Studies, Department of International Development, Oxford University (UK). DL: September 13

> Assistant Professor in International Political Economy, London School of Economics and Political Science (UK). DL: September 15

> A tenure-track assistant professor in Sociology specializing in Inequality, The School of History and Sociology at Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia, USA). DL: September 15

Full-time Assistant Professor of Stratification and Inequality, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto (Canada). DL: September 16

> Lectureship in Economic History, The Department of Political Economy, King’s College London (UK). DL: September 22

> A Tenure Track Professor of Social Stratification and Inequality, the Institute of  Education, Labor and Society, University of Hohenheim (Stuttgart, Germany). DL: September 22

> Full Professor of International Political Economy, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business. DL: September 25

> Assistant professor (tenure track) in sociology with a focus on market techniques, Center for the Sociology of Organizations, Sciences Po (France). DL: September 30

> Tenure-track Assistant Professor of Sociology in Global Inequality, Department of Sociology and Anthropology,Illinois State University (USA). DL: September 30

> Tenure-track Assistant Professor in Social Networks, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA). DL: September 30

> Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations, Sheffield University’s Management School (England, UK). DL: September 30

> Tenure-track assistant professor in Labor Movements and Collective Representation, Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (Ithaca, New York, USA). DL: October 1

> A tenure-track Assistant Professor in Political Economy,  Department of Sociology, University of Tennessee – Knoxville (USA). DL: October 7 

Assistant Professor in Development Studies (tenure track), The International Institute of Social Studies, (The Hague, The Netherlands). DL: October 7

> Assistant Professor in Economic Sociology, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science. DL: October 14

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RIP Immanuel Wallerstein — “This is the end; this is the beginning”

Immanuel WallersteinA towering intellectual, pathbreaking thinker, and preeminent sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein passed away. He lived a deep commitment to scholarship, justice and change.
Wallerstein has written dozens of remarkable and outstanding books, and hundreds of influential papers and shrewd commentaries. He was a field scholar, who tirelessly traveled around the world for research and lecturing. Concurrently, he has been dedicated to academic community, and served in a multitude of roles in higher education initiatives, editorial boards, and learned societies, including being elected as President of the International Sociological Association (1994-8). Due to his multifaceted contribution, Professor Wallerstein has earned numerous honorary degrees, awards and prestigious fellowships from institutions all over the world.
He was first noticed in the mid-1950’s thanks to his M.A. thesis on McCarthyism as a phenomenon of U.S. political culture. But then he decided to divert his focus away from U.S. and make Africa the venue of his intellectual concerns — which would become the first stage of his lifelong scientific and political journey. In his PhD dissertation he compared the Gold Coast (Ghana) and the Ivory Coast in terms of the role voluntary associations played in the rise of the nationalist movements. Thereafter he has actually became an Africa scholar, analyzing political developments and social issues during the processes of decolonization (see Africa, The Politics of Independence and Unity– 1961, 1967 / 2005).
Looking at his own trajectory of thinking Wallerstein wrote once: “I had the gut feeling in the 1950s that the most important thing that was happening in the twentieth‑century world was the struggle to overcome the control by the Western world of the rest of the world. Today we call this a concern with North‑South relations, or with core‑periphery relations, or with Eurocentrism. It has to be said that, in the 1950s and indeed for a long time thereafter, my assessment of what was most important was not shared by most people, for whom what some called the Cold War between democracy and totalitarianism and others called the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat (both of these terms being rather narrowly defined) was (and indeed for many, remains) the central defining issue of our time. My quest was therefore not only an upward battle against a wide consensus in the political and scholarly world but against the internalized concepts deriving from this dominant view within my own mind.” (2000: xvii).
In the light of these contemplations, in the 1970s Wallerstein embarked on the second phase of his intellectual journey and moved the locus of his work to a perspective he called “World‑systems Analysis“, based on two epistemic and methodological cornerstones. The first is that the determination of “a unit of analysis” is crucial. The modern social science presumed that the state boundaries constitute the boundaries of “societies.” Wallerstein asserted that this was a very misleading assumption that ignored dependencies and interdependencies in the world. Instead, he argued, the only plausible unit of analysis is a “world‑system”, whole interpolity system rather than single national society or delimited politie that implies closure. Secondly, all analyses have to be simultaneously historic and systemic, if they aspire to grapple seriously with the explanation of the reality and social changesNeither premise was greeted with enthusiasm, when Wallerstein presented them. Especially, though unsurprisingly, such an analytical break was largely misunderstood in the US academia. In retrospect, they became his scholarly trademark and have had the greatest impact.
The Modern World-System WallersteinWallerstein’s eye-opening and powerful World‑systems Analysis has transformed the way we understand history, capitalism, colonialism, liberalism, social sciences, and also the present turbulent times. It culminated in his four-volume masterpiece The Modern World-System (1974, 1980, 1989 and 2011and three-volume collection of essays (The Capitalist World-Economy– 1979, The Politics of World-Economy– 1984Geopolitics and Geoculture– 1991) in which Wallerstein generated a unique body of original and illuminating knowledge linking nations, political economies, ideologies, markets, classes, firms, households, labor, and identity groups. While at the beginning he had difficulties finding a publisher for the first The Modern World-System and his interdisciplinary approach has been denunciated, Wallerstein has become one of those rare academics whose research has been paradigm shifting and inspiring generations of scientists, political activists and social movements.

World-systems analysis“, he once stated, “is not a theory but a protest against neglected issues and deceptive epistemologies… It is an intellectual task that is and has to be a political task as well, because — I insist –the search for the true and the search for the good is  but a single quest. If we are to move forward to a world that is substantively rational, in Max Weber’s usage of this term, we can neglect neither the intellectual nor the political challenges. And neither can we separate these from each other. We can only struggle uneasily with both challenges simultaneously, and push forward as best we can.” (2000: xxii)

Immanuel Wallerstein’s life and work certainly symbolize an imprinting journey of a genuine and committed Global Public Intellectual. 
On July 1st Professor Wallerstein deliberately wrote his ultimate commentary
This is the end; this is the beginning“, concluding it and leaving us with his final reflection: 

The world might go down further by-paths. Or it may not. I have indicated in the past that I thought the crucial struggle was a class struggle, using class in a very broadly defined sense. What those who will be alive in the future can do is to struggle with themselves so this change may be a real one. I still think that and therefore I think there is a 50-50 chance that we’ll make it to transformatory change, but only 50-50.”

Immanuel Wallerstein’s tremendous erudition, breadth of vision and depth of insight have been constantly enlightening our minds; and his legacy will have been accompanying us in (intellectual) struggles towards that transformatory change.

Recommended reading:
— Wallerstein, I. 2000. The Essential Wallerstein. The New Press (!!)
— Wallerstein, I. 2004. World-systems Analysis: An Introduction. Duke University
— Wallerstein, I. 1983/2011. Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization. Verso
— Wallerstein, I. 2006. European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power. The New Press

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B&B: Best books in political economy // Raising elite // Missing from economics: women // Philanthropy’s interests // Living now in the pre-industrial age // Black businesses and the Civil Rights Movement

This time, especially worth reading and sharing articles:

Mark Blyth chooses and discusses the best 5 books on how Political Economy works >The Passions and the Interests by Albert Hirschman, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy by Barrington Moore, The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi, The Rhetoric of Reaction by Albert Hirschman, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

> Those who went to top private schools are 94 times (!) more likely to be in UK’s elite, even without passing through Oxbridge — revealed Aaron Reeves and Sam Friedman after studying 120-year period

> Missing from economics textbooks: Women. Missing from economics departments: Women. Missing from economics conferences: Women. Missing from economics references: Women

> Is philanthropy repugnant to the idea of democracy? Aaron Horvath & Walter Powell: “’Disruptive philanthropy‘ seeks to shape civic values in the image of funders’ interests… to change public opinion and demand.” — A review of David Callahan’s The Givers: Money, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age

> Andy Haldane, Chief economist of Bank of England: The current relationship between pay and employment reflects the pre-Industrial Revolution period: when there were no unions, labor hours were flexible, people were self-employed, and work was artisanal

> Lending a hand: How small black-owned businesses variously supported the 1950-60’s civil rights movement — by Louis Ferleger & Matthew Lavallee

> Target2 imbalances and the stagnating political economy of Europe: A new approach is needed to curb unemployment and increase liquidity — by Muhammad Ali Nasir

best books political economy

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Arthur Miller: “An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted”

Arthur Miller

On the brink of 1975, New York Magazine devoted an issue to a look at the year 1949. A canonical playwright Arthur Miller contributed to this issue an essay on “the state of New York mind in that year” through his own reflections. This shrewd quote tackles the big, national and global, events of that period. Well, times and protagonists have changed since then, but you remember what Hegel said about what we learn from history.

An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted… A retreat began from the old confidence in reason itself; nothing any longer could be what it seemed… A sort of political surrealism came dancing through the ruins of what had nearly been a beautifully moral and rational world… The whole place was becoming inhuman, not only because an unaccustomed fear was spreading so fast, but more because nobody would admit to being afraid.” (Miller 1974: 30, 32, 36)

Miller, Arthur. 1974. “The Year it Came Apart.” New York Magazine, 30 December 1974 – 6 January 1975, 8 (1): 30-44.

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The Virtues of the Market: Wilhelm Röpke as a Cultural Economist

by Erwin Dekker*

Neoliberalism is often associated with an excessive focus on the market at the expense of both the state and society. A new book Wilhelm Röpke (1899–1966): A Liberal Political Economist and Conservative Social Philosopher, edited by Patricia Commun and Stefan Kolev (Springer, 2018), which is the outcome of a conference in Geneva held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Röpke’s passing, demonstrates that precisely this imbalance was one of the main worries of many ordoliberals, and in particular of Wilhelm Röpke. Röpke who was born in 1899, started out as many economists of his day, as a theorist of the business cycle. But more than some of his liberal friends he was convinced that a crisis as severe as the Great Depression required the state to support the natural correction process, as three chapters in the volume demonstrate, in particular the one by Lachezar Grudev.
Soon after this work on the Great Depression Röpke’s work broadened considerably. While in exile in Istanbul, on the run from the Nazi regime of which he was an early critic, he and his friend Alexander Rüstow started to theorize the far deeper crisis in society and Western culture of the 1930’s. The problem was not economic, it was far deeper, and it touched the organization of the state, the fabric of society and ultimately liberal and humanist culture.
It is here that Röpke’s great relevance lies for today, and to which most of the book is dedicated. It is clear that many of the current discontents of our day are not simply economic, but extend to social issues (immigration and free speech) as well as the state (the future of the EU and the rise of populism on the left and right). The problem is not merely the stability of our financial system or the global economy more broadly, but what in this illuminating book is called “the metastability” of our society and culture. Röpke’s work from the 1940’s onwards is an attempt to provide a unified analysis of the crisis of his times, among other things by figuring out the way in which culture, society, market and state relate to one another. It is a task too big for any one man, including Röpke, as the volume implicitly illustrates. But the strength of his work is precisely to be found in this integrative approach. It seems that none of the nineteen contributors to this book agrees wholeheartedly with his analysis or suggested cures, but it is the questions he raises, and the challenges he presents that make him relevant.
This is best illustrated in the chapter by Nils Goldschmidt and Julian Dörr who make very clear that they disagree at quite fundamental points with Röpke, but they also make clear why this disagreement can be so fruitful. More than other economists Röpke was willing to engage fully with the cultural dimension (and the religious dimension about which this book is curiously silent) of liberalism and markets. He was skeptical that liberal institutions had much of a chance in the absence of bourgeois and Christian culture, or a social order that fostered personal responsibility and autonomy. It was an unpopular argument in a secularizing society looking to free itself from many traditional institutions and norms, and one that does not sit easily with a liberal universalism. After all Christian and bourgeois culture are not global phenomena, and the regionalism favored by Röpke implies significant variation in local customs and freedoms. But it is also a point that is hard to ignore after failed Western attempts to spread democracy and markets both in post-Communist countries and other parts of the world.
This primacy of the social and cultural is also evident in Röpke’s view of the market. What he liked most about the market economy was, surprisingly, not its material effects but instead the bourgeois ethic that was intimately tied up with it, as Alan Kahan shows in his wonderful chapter on Jacob Burckhardt and Röpke. It is the ethic of personal responsibility, of thrift and prudence, of self-discipline supported by the small business family capitalism. This, however, was not the capitalism of the twentieth century with its major hierarchical firms, the technological advancement and its culture of consumerism. This modern form did not allow for the continuum between private and public virtues which Röpke sought. Instead, as his close associate Hayek later would theorize, modern man lives very much in two different worlds: the small world of the family and the open society of the market and politics.
Many of Röpke’s neoliberal friends, when given the choice, gave prominence to the ethics of the open society: tolerance, competition and rationalism. Röpke, on the other hand, sought to protect the ethics of the small closed world. This makes him an interesting critic of his times with a sharp eye for the corrupting influence of mass movements and for the importance of civil society. He had sympathies for both (European) political integration and a high degree of federalism. It makes him an original critic of monopolies: they are bad not only because they harm consumers, but also because they represent an unhealthy degree of concentration in the economy, with harmful social and cultural effects. He favored the small firm, exemplified by the independent farmer and artisan. It was an economic structure which he found in Switzerland, where he lived the latter half of his life, from 1937 to his passing in 1966.
It is not uncommon to treat Röpke and Rüstow, who spent a number of years together in exile in Turkey, as the left-wing of the attendants at the Colloque Walter Lippmann, and the later Mont Pèlerin Society. After all they were far more willing to accept interventions for social purposes, to combat unemployment for example. But this volume demonstrates the extent to which that interpretation relies on a single analytical axis that ranges from radical non-interventionism to centralized control. It is the purely economic lens through which to analyze the state. When analyzing Röpke’s work it is clear how misguided such a single axis is. His social program does not follow primarily from economic arguments, but instead from social ones. Such social reasons could be progressive, i. e. fighting unequal outcomes, but they could equally be conservative, i. e. maintaining existing social structures. Some of the early neoliberals were more progressive and therefore more willing to allow for states to step in to secure individual autonomy, others were more conservative and therefore more willing to allow for states to step in to maintain existing social structures. Röpke certainly belonged to the latter category. For both conservatives and progressives in favor of social policies the idea that some efficiency has to be sacrificed for other goals is a given, not a counter-argument to state intervention. To understand his work therefore, we have to understand what other values were important enough to sacrifice some economic efficiency and possibly economic freedoms.
These are issues that the book grapples with, although occasionally one would have wished they were addressed more directly. Röpke’s ideal image of the economy clearly seeks to protect independent farmers and artisans, because it gives rise to a social structure that is likely to support a liberal culture. Just like in his arguments against monopolies we encountered above, it is the social and cultural that take precedent not the economic. His evaluation of the 1930’s had much in common with that of José Ortega y Gasset who also lamented mass society. And hence Röpke’s resistance to fascism should be sought primarily in that direction, and only after that in the political or economic program of fascism. It was fascism’s embrace of mass society that was its gravest danger for him.
Stefan Kolev in his contribution suggests that Ludwig von Mises was wrong in associating Röpke’s program with the social program of Bismarck. This is true to the extent that Röpke despised the centralist tendencies of the nineteenth-century German statesman, but Röpke’s social vision of order had much in common with that of Bismarck. Both men sought to prevent the advent of socialism, through the revision of the role of the state in society. And, more importantly, both believed that social order required state policies that supported this social order. It opens up the possibility of an extensive role of the state in society, and Röpke never found a clear limit of this role. One might fault him for it, but I think it makes him into a deeper thinker than some of his neoliberal contemporaries. While they were content with outlining an economic program, from which other virtues were supposed to follow, Röpke wondered whether such an economic program would be sufficient for a cultural liberalism.
In the various chapters on Röpke’s relations to other conservative thinkers the fundamental question of the social order which best supports liberalism is brought out. What is the social order that fosters individual responsibility, as well as a strong civil society able to resist centralizing tendencies in the state? If we regard this question as the most fundamental, then we should ask of economic policies to what extent they sustain and foster this particular social order. For Röpke this included not merely issues of culture, but for example also of economic geography. Where the post-war Western world favored an urban home-owning structure, Röpke favored the decentralized economy of independent farmers.
Although the book contains little explicit engagement with contemporary issues, it is not hard to realize that this challenge too is still with us: local, regional and national identities and variations in economic structures have proven incredibly resistant to the homogenizing forces of markets, and often a powerful opponent of them. Current anti-globalist and anti-EU sentiments stem to a considerable extent from the fact that global markets are believed to endanger these identities and structures. This book demonstrates that Röpke’s work is full of attempts to work out these tensions, without making a simple choice in favor of one of them. Both the local identities and markets are “cooperative practices” as Henrique Schneider’s contribution points out. How to best combine these partly rival cooperative practices is a question that breathes life into Röpke’s work, just like this volume breathes life back into his oeuvre. Not because the book manages to resolve the tensions, but because it takes them seriously.
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This review essay was originally published in ORDO – Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft:
Dekker, Erwin. 2019. “The Virtues of the Market: Wilhelm Röpke as a Cultural Economist.” ORDO 69: 496-499.
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* Erwin Dekker is a post-doctoral researcher at the Erasmus School of Economics where he is working on the intellectual biography of Nobel laureate and Dutch economist Jan Tinbergen. He is also assistant professor in cultural economics at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication. He published The Viennese Students of Civilization: The Meaning and Context of Austrian Economics Reconsidered (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and his research focuses on the intersection of art, culture and economics.

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The Economist presents: the dangers of free hospital parking. The Neoliberal absurdity at its ‘best’

The Economist Neoliberalism
“If a hospital in a crowded city stopped charging [for parking], it would mean more frail, elderly people staggering into the accident and emergency ward on their own as their sons and daughters search for a space, more parents panicking as a child who has hit her head lolls in the back seat, and more labouring women leaning against railings.”

— “A lesson in parkonomics, for Jeremy Corbyn; Abolishing charges in hospitals is a terrible idea.” (The Economist, May 8, 2017)

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