B&B: Gendered economics // Social drinking // Competition amok // Neoliberal beliefs vs. neoliberal reality // Do protests work? // Business’ counter-mobilization // Pro-poor market

This time, especially worth reading  and sharing articles:

Women economists are forced to conform to research interests and publishing habits of male economists. Gender discrimination in economics has various facets — by Giulia Zacchia

> Social drinking: How one hundred years ago, Britain nationalized hundreds of pubs and invented a better drinking culture — by Phil Mellows

Neoliberalism perceives society-as-a-whole as one big competitive arena. How did competition and competitiveness become justifiable and acceptable — by Will Davies

Neoliberal beliefs vs. neoliberal reality: Inequality is getting worse, but the percent of people across the world who say that their society is a meritocracy is increasing — by Jonathan J.B. Mijs

Do protests work? Is ‘folk politics’ of marches, petitions, and strikes more habit than solution, and a distraction from the structural nature of problems? — by Nathan Heller

Protest culture and business’s counter-mobilization in 1960s–80s: The personal, the political and the profitable — by Benjamin C. Waterhouse

Value chains for development: Pro-poor market interventions and the moral dilemmas they bring up for the the organisations implementing them and for the communities impacted by them — by Dena Freeman

neolibaralism inequality

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Did Neoliberalism and Austerity Cause Brexit? Yes.

While the Brexit process is underway and UK politicians are tearing themselves apart over this overwhelmingly and multidimensionally complicated  issue, an economics professor from Warwick University Thiemo Fetzer provides ample and comprehensive evidence that the austerity-induced withdrawal of the welfare state brought about by the Conservative-led coalition government from late 2010 onwards are key to understanding how pressures to hold an EU referendum built up and why the Leave side won.
In his new research paper “Did Austerity Cause Brexit?” Fetzer convincingly shows
and asserts that various welfare cuts and neoliberal reforms (such as the abolishment of council tax benefit, the so-called ‘bedroom-tax’, and the squeeze of disability living allowance) have been a strong driving factor behind the growing support for the populist Ukip party in the wake of the EU referendum, contributed to the development of broader anti-establishment preferences and are strongly associated with popular support for Brexit.
See the abstract of this very interesting, important, well-researched and well-written paper, and also find below an open-access link to the paper itself:

“This paper shows that the rise of popular support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), as the single most important correlate of the subsequent Leave vote in the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum, along with broader measures of political dissatisfaction, are strongly and causally associated with an individual’s or an area’s exposure to austerity since 2010. In addition to exploiting data from the population of all electoral contests in the UK since 2000, I leverage detailed individual level panel data allowing me to exploit within-individual variation in exposure to specific rules-based welfare reforms as well as broader measures of political preferences. The results suggest that the EU referendum could have resulted in a Remain victory had it not been for a range of austerity-induced welfare reforms. These reforms activated existing economic grievances. Further, auxiliary results suggest that the underlying economic grievances have broader origins than what the current literature on Brexit suggests. Up until 2010, the UK’s welfare state evened out growing income differences across the skill divide through transfer payments. This pattern markedly stops from 2010 onwards as austerity started to bite.”  

Neoliberalism caused Brexit

Fetzer, Thiemo. 2018. “Did Austerity Cause Brexit?” Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy’s working paper series, Department of Economics, University of Warwick.

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C. Wright Mills on Knowledge, Power, and the Moral Duty of the Intellectual

An eminent and brilliant sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) was deeply concerned with the responsibilities of social scientists in the post-World War II (American) society. Therefore he advocated for engagement of intellectuals in public life in contrast to merely conducting distant observations. Mills’s research and writings had a significant impact on the Left and social movements of the 1960s.

“As a type of social man, the intellectual does not have any one political direction, but the work of any man of knowledge, if he is the genuine article, does have a distinct kind of political relevance: his politics, in the first instance, are the politics of truth, for his job is the maintenance of an adequate definition of reality. In so far as he is politically adroit, the main tenet of this politics is to find out as much of the truth as he can, and to tell it to the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. Or, stated negatively: to deny publicly what he knows to be false, whenever it appears in the assertions of no matter whom; and whether it be a direct lie or a lie by omission, whether it be by virtue of official secret or an honest error. The intellectual ought to be the moral conscience of his society at least with reference to the value of truth, for in the defining instance, that is his politics. And he ought also to be a man absorbed in the attempt to know what is real and unreal.” (1967: 611)

Mills, C. Wright. 1963. “On Knowledge and Power.” Pp. 599-614 in Power, Politics and People: the Collected Essays of C. Wright Mills, edited by Irving Louis Horowitz. Oxford University Press.

C. Wright Mills

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Great academic opportunities: 15 calls for papers, 4 postdocs, 3 jobs, 2 visiting positions, 2 PhD stipends, winter school, and PhD course

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great call for papersacademic opportunities: 15 calls for papers for conferences and workshops (some are fully or partially funded), 4 post-doc and temporary positions, 3 job openings, 2 visiting positions, 2 doctoral fellowships, a winter school, and a PhD course — in various areas of economic sociology, political economy, and related fields, with August 5 – September 30 deadlinesShare this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: “Global Labor Migration: Past and Present” conference, The International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam (The Netherlands), June 20-22, 2019. The keynoters: Donna Gabaccia and Bridget Anderson. DL: August 15

> CfP: The 4th International Conference on Labor Theory of Value and Social Sciences, University of Brasilia, Brasilia (Brazil), 18 – 19 October 2018. DL: August 27

> CfP: “Uneven Development, Inequalities and the State“, the 4th Role of State in Varieties of Capitalism conference, Central European University, Budapest (Hungary), 29-30 November 2018. The keynoters: Robert Wade and Henk Overbeek. DL: August 31

CfP: “Gender and Labour Disputes: Perspectives Past and Present” conference, University of Erlangen – Nuremberg (Germany), 21-22 March 2019. DL: August 31

> CfP: “Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity” conference, Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands),  November 29-30, 2018. DL: August 31

> CfP: “Governing Markets as Knowledge Commons: The New Entrepreneurial History of Shared Social Infrastructures“, an edited volume and symposium in Spring 2019, Arlington, VA (USA). Authors will be reimbursed for their travel and accommodation costs. DL: August 31

> CfP: “Futures of finance and society“, Finance and Society Network’s conference, University of Edinburgh (UK), 6-7 December, 2018. The keynoters: Donald MacKenzie, Annelise Riles, Gillian Tett. DL: September 1. Recommended!

> CfP: “Debt, Freedom, and Development: Insights from Asia” conference, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 15- 16 January 2019. The organisers will provide accommodation and/or a contribution towards airfare. DL: September 10

> CfP: “Knowledge Society and Sustainability” conference, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), October 17‐20, 2018. DL: September 10

> CfP: “The Transmission of Financial Knowledge in Historical Perspective, 1840–1940” conference, German Historical Institute (Washington, DC, USA), March 8-9, 2019. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered. DL: September 4

> CfP: “Gender, Race, Class and Crises: Pluralistic Approaches to the Economic Issues of our Time“, the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics conference, Agnes Scott College (Atlanta, GA, USA), January 3, 2019. DL: September 4

> CfP for special issue: “Informal economy and digital labor in the cashless society“, Sociologia del Lavoro journal. DL for abstracts in English: September 15 

> CfP: “Economic Activities and Archival Practices in Europe between the 12th and the 21st century” workshop, Hamburg University (Germany), 4-5 April 2019. DL: September 30

> CfP for edited volume: “Alternatives to the Theory of the Firm / Alternative theories of the firm“, an Edited Volume to be published in Humanistic Management Series, Routledge Publishers. DL for abstracts: September 30

> CfP: The Historical Materialism Sydney conference, University of Sydney (Australia), 13-14 December, 2018. No attendance fee. DL: September 30

Job openings:

Professor in Sociology, especially in Work, Economy and Organization (permanent, full-time), Uppsala University (Sweden). DL: September 1

Faculty member specializing in work and organizational issues, MIT Sloan School (Cambridge, MA, USA). DL: September 14

Assistant or Associate or Full Professors in Social Inequality, Sociology Department, Yale University ( New Haven, CT, USA). DL: September 15

Post-doctoral and Temporary positions:

Lecturer in Comparative Political Economy and Development (temporary, full-time), King’s College London (UK). DL: August 8

Lecturer in Political Economy of Inclusive Development (temporary, full-time), King’s College London (UK). DL: August 8

Lecturer in the Social Science of International Development (temporary, full-time), King’s College London (UK). DL: August 8

> Post-doc Research Associate in a project on the impact of technology and digitalisation on work and employment in the logistics sector, at “Work, Organisation and Employee Relations” Centre, Sheffield University (UK). DL: August 27

Visiting opportunities:

International Scholar in Residence Program (8-12 weeks) for junior faculty and PhD students in the field of antitrust, by American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law, Washington, D.C. (USA). DL: August 31

> Junior and Senior fellowships (6-7 months) in “Labour as a Political Category” and “Political Economy of Growth and Distribution” themes at The M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre for Advanced Studies in New Delhi, India. Stipend, housing, and travel costs will be granted. DL: September 15

PhD Fellowships:

PhD  scholarship in  historical / economic sociology, with a focus on the tensions between religious imaginaries and economic rationalities, Dept. of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School. DL: August 5

Fully Funded PhD studies in “New Political Economy of Europe”, University College Dublin (Ireland). DL: August 25

PhD Course and Winter School:

> CfA: “Development, Democracy and Conflict” Interdisciplinary Winter school, Dept. of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi (India), 26 November – 1st December, 2018. DL: August 22

> CfA: “Markets and Governance in a Post-secular Society: an Introduction to Economic Theology“, a course for PhD students only, Copenhagen Business School, 6-8 November, 2018. DL: September 26

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The Sociology of Quantification: Seeing like Numbers

Elizabeth Popp Berman and Dan Hirschman have recently published in Contemporary Sociology a worth reading review essay called “The Sociology of Quantification: Where Are We Now?” In this article, which is definitely more than a ‘regular’ review, they Sociology of Quantificationdo not just discuss several books and depict a genre of researches, but elaborate a series of topical and programmatic questions in respect of what might be perceived as a consolidating subfield — Sociology of Quantification.

“While the sociology of quantification may lack a well-defined object of study, shared theoretical concepts, and an agreed-upon methodological toolkit, studies that touch on quantification nevertheless cluster around four broad questions, which we use to orient our review.. First, what shapes the production of numbers?… Second, when and how do numbers matter?.. Third, how do we govern quantification? How should we govern quantification?.. Fourth and finally, how should scholars study quantification?” (p. 258)

Berman and Hirschman think about these essential questions through observant reading eight very interesting new books — that lack a coherent terminology and a shared framework — but all of them grapple with the power of numbers in various contexts and point out “to a vibrant conversation about quantification happening across many different fields”.
Summarizing their illuminating essay, the authors emphasize that:

“Studies of new quantified phenomena help to sharpen our conceptual categories for thinking about what quantification really is. Quantification is not a single, unified process. Work that explores the boundaries of numbers, data, and measurement helps to flesh out our vocabulary—from indicators and rankings, to models and algorithms, and now big data and biosensing, and so on. Indeed, one of the clearest takeaways from these books, read as a group, is the blurriness of “quantification” and the need for conceptual categories that will help us unpack it… The qualitative study of quantification may, at the moment, be producing a significant body of new work. But for producing a coherent sociology of quantification, we have a long way to go.” (p. 266) 

One may find this conclusion disappointing; I find it scholarly encouraging.
Read here the full (open-access) essay :
Berman, Elizabeth and Daniel Hirschman. 2018. “The Sociology of Quantification: Where Are We Now?” Contemporary Sociology  47 (3): 257 – 266.

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B&B: Populism // Rostow’s economics and Vietnam War // Informal economy grows // Universities’ privatization failures // Deficit hawks deceive you // Inequality // One-sided economists

What is Populism? Its defining feature is not anti-elitism but anti-pluralism; it’s based on a fiction but it is not fictional politics — by Jan-Werner Müller

economics fiction> A standard format of budget reporting is deceptive, but it works for the deficit hawks in economics and politics — by Dean Baker

> “Economics is so one-sided, I think, because it’s the rich who hire economists; it’s just as simple as that” — an interview with Moshe Adler

W.W. Rostow’s economic theory and ideas helped persuade US Presidents that Vietnam War was right and just — by Joseph M. Long

Informal Economy’s alternatives take root when capitalism fails: barter, time trading, and gifts in crumbling Detroit — by Valerie Vande Panne

Universities tried the soft privatization, but that has failed to stabilize their finances and miseducated people about the social value of Higher Education — by Christopher Newfield 

Inequality is the topic of this illuminating issue of Economic Sociology European newsletter, edited by Olivier Godechot

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Probably the best “Acknowledgments” ever (4)


best Acknowledgments everThis work has been carried out despite the economical difficulties of the authors’ country. The authors want to overall remark the clear contribution of the Spanish Government in destroying the R&D horizon of Spain and the future of a complete generation.” (Padilla et al. 2014: 475)

Contrary to this “Acknowledgments” section, cleverly used by the researchers to submit an alarming, justified, and serious protestation, see here, here and here the past posts featuring humoristic and witty scholars’ “Acknowledgments” 🙂

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Robert Solow’s sarcastic economics

robert solowRobert Solow, one of the most honored and influential economist of the second half of the 20th century, has been involved throughout his career in a series of polemics with several neoliberal economists in academia and government. Along with substantial assertions and explanations, Solow often used to spice his arguments with witty and sarcastic stings, such as:

“Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon. Now, Bob Lucas and Tom Sargent like nothing better than to get drawn into technical discussions, because then you have tacitly gone along with their fundamental assumptions; your attention is attracted away from the basic weakness of the whole story. Since I find that fundamental framework ludicrous, I respond by treating it as ludicrous — that is, by laughing at it — so a’s not to fall into the trap of taking it seriously and passing on to matters of technique” (Arjo Klamer’s Conversations with Economists, 1983, p. 146)

“Another difference between Milton [Friedman] and myself is that everything reminds Milton of the money supply. Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of my papers.” (Solow 1966: 63)

“In principle, there is no reason why expectations about future inflation cannot be changed dramatically overnight. All that is needed is some gesture, some conviction, some promise, perhaps something slipped into the water supply. I drift into sarcasm, but only because sometimes the Reagan Administration’s representatives seem to adopt that line: it hardly matters what we do – if only you will believe us, your belief will make itself come true.” (Solow 1982: 23)

“The group at this conference is fairly uniform… A nonprofessional would find this whole meeting very mysterious. The discussion is very abstract; it is full of insiders’ language; people break into hysterical laughter for incomprehensible reasons. There are also some people here who are more directly concerned with practical matters. There are even more such people out in the streets of Edgartown, and those are people who could not care less about rational expectations or even about irrational expectations or identifying restrictions, whatever those words mean… I would like to assure the practical people in this room and also the ones out in the streets of Edgartown that although the battles that are fought in conferences like this appear to be fought with antique pop guns, the bullets are real and they may soon be fired at you by the Federal Reserve.” (Solow 1978: 203) 

Solow, Robert M. 1966. “Comments.” Pp. 62-66 in Guidelines: Informal Controls and the Market Place, eds. George P. Shultz and Robert Z. Aliber. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Solow, Robert. 1978. “Summery and Evaluation.” Pp. 203-9 in After the Phillips Curve: Persistence of High Inflation and High Unemployment; Proceedings of a Conference Held at Edgartown, Mass. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Solow, Robert. 1982. “Does Economics Make Progress?” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 36(3): 13-31. (open access)

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Money fills our body to the brim,
creates our shape, our taste, the so-called self-esteem.
The shiny teeth earmark our polished fame,
the slickness crystallized since money rinsed our shame
into a sewer of repressed self-blame.

                                                                      (by Oleg Komlik)

Money Creates Taste - Jenny Holzer

“Money Creates Taste” by Jenny Holzer (2007)

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Economic Sociology, Homo Economicus, and Performativity of Economics

It is never too late, nor too early, to reread and contemplate a good theory.
The Laws of the Markets Michel CallonFor example, to mull over Michel Callon’s programmatic statement about the performativity of economics, presented two decades ago in the introduction to The Laws of the Markets:

“Underscoring the complexity of economic phenomena, a complexity to which economic theory with its cold and disincarnated view of homo economicus cannot do justice, sociology strives to give this abstract agent a bit more soul — the life and warmth he lacks — by mobilizing notions such as those of value, culture, rules or passions. Pareto dreamed it, economic sociology makes it. Yet, as we suggested, economic agents do not need be enriched. If they manage to become richer it is because, on the contrary, they were cooled, reduced and framed, particularly by economics! What we expect from sociology is not a more complex homo economicus but the comprehension of his simplicity and poverty. […]
Yes, homo economicus really does exist. Of course, he exists in the form of many species and his lineage is multiple and ramified. But if he exists he is obviously not be found in a natural state — this expression has little meaning. He is formatted, framed and equipped with prostheses which help him in his calculations and which are, for the most part, produced by economics. […] It is not a matter of giving a soul back to a dehumanized agent, nor of rejecting the very idea of his existence. The objective may be to explore the diversity of calculative agencies forms and distributions, and hence of organized markets. The market is no longer that cold, implacable and impersonal monster which imposes its laws and procedures while extending them ever further. It is a many-sided, diversified, evolving device which the social sciences as well as the actors themselves contribute to reconfigure.” (Callon 1998: 50-1)

Callon, Michel. 1998. “Introduction: The embeddedness of economic markets in economics.” Pp. 1-57 in The Laws of the Markets, edited by Michel Callon. Oxford: Blackwell. (Open access)

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