BITS & BRIEFS: Policies and perceived job security // Rubinstein, Rodrik and sociology of economics // Keynes’ oddest work // What have we learned after the crisis?

The World in 2030 A.D.

Illustrations by Edward McKnight Kauffer for “The World in 2030 A.D.” by the Earl of Birkenhead (1930)

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Great academic opportunities: 12 calls for papers, 9 summer schools, 5 postdocs, 2 jobs, and 2 PhD fellowships

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great and interesting academic opportunities: call for papers11 calls for papers for conferences and workshops, 7 calls for participation in summer schools for students and junior scholars, 5 post-doctoral  and visiting positions, 2 job openings, and 2 doctoral fellowships in various topics in economic sociology and political economy, with April 20 – May 8 deadlines. Most of the conferences and summer schools are fully or partly funded. Share this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

Summer Schools:

Post-doc and visiting positions:

Jobs:

PhD fellowship: 

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How 19th century finance and housing associations shaped 20th century housing regimes in Germany and the United States

Why has Germany become a country of tenants with a housing policy directed at private and public rental construction? On the other hand, why has the United States turned into a homeownership country? In an interesting article, Sebastian Kohl (University of Uppsala) tackles these questions, looking at the continuing impact of institutional legacies in determining the different trajectories of housing policies and patterns in the US and Germany and scrutinizing their origins and developments. 

“Comparative welfare and production regime literature has so far neglected the considerable cross-country differences in the sphere of housing. The United States became a country of homeowners living in cities of single-family houses in the twentieth century. Its housing policy was focused on supporting private mortgage indebtedness with only residual public housing. Germany, on the contrary, remained a tenant-dominated country with cities of multi-unit buildings. Its housing policy has been focused on construction subsidies to non-profit housing associations and incentives for savings earmarked for financing housing. The article claims that these differences are the outcome of different housing institutions that had already emerged in the nineteenth century. Germany developed non-profit housing associations and financed housing through mortgage banks, both privileging the construction of rental apartments. In the United States, savings and loan associations favored mortgages for owner-occupied, single-family house construction. When governments intervened during housing crises in the 1920/1930s, they aimed their subsidies at these existing institutions. Thus, US housing policy became finance-biased in favor of savings and loan associations, while Germany supported the housing cooperatives.”

The article makes an important contributions by bringing the realm of housing into the field of comparative political economy by using explanatory approaches from historic institutionalism and connecting them to the crucial topic of varieties of financial systems.

Kohl, Sebastian. 2015. “The Power of Institutional Legacies: How Nineteenth Century Housing Associations Shaped Twentieth Century Housing Regime Differences between Germany and the United States.” European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie 56 (2): 271 – 306.

Berlin, Marzahn, Neubaugebiet, Wohnblocks

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Framing Value of Things and Making Things Valuable

My experiences at Asian floating markets have included constant conversations between me and merchants, and thereafter between me and myself, such as: “How much is it?”  — “How much do you want to give me?”, he replies. “How much was it worth?”, I was then wondering while sailing down the Mekong river, “Is it worth returning?” Think about this — these questions are essentially different. So, what are the relations between framing the value of something and determining its price?
Let us zoom out. Why do we entrust the market economy and economics with a task of (e)valuation of goods, deeds, benefits and costs? Studying economic history and critically reviewing accounting, business and economic writings and practices repeatedly demonstrate us how problematic and doubtful this approach could be. On the other hand, sociologists and anthropologists have been occupied mainly with understanding values such as those with a cultural or religious basis.
Making Things ValuableThe insightful book Making Things Valuable (Oxford University Press, 2015), edited by Martin Kornberger, Lise Justesen, Anders Koed Madsen, and Jan Mouritsen, poses and tackles a core question: What if value is neither an intrinsic quality of an object, nor a reflection of a subjects preferences but rather something that is organized and brought into existence through mechanisms, technologies and practices of valuation?
The theoretical inspiration of this very interesting volume is interdisciplinary; it brings together scholars from economic sociology, organization studies, science and technology studies, and accounting with the aim of scrutinizing through which practices and processes things are made valuable. The argument arises from this book is that valuing should be understood as a plural activity where pricing things is just one way of signifying value. It supports a processual view of valuation that suggests moving the analytical gaze from things towards the network of elements and the evaluative infrastructure that makes them valuable. Socio-economic reality is constituted through different orders of worth that are grounded in the way people praise and prize things. 
The book’s chapters address the question of valuation theoretically and through empirical analyses of diverse objects of valuations, such as insurances, gold, university ranking lists, sport games, wind power, big data, and more.
Adding to the important work done within economic sociology during recent decades, this recommended volume contributes to, and stimulates, rethinking the common perception of (monetary) value and reexamining the dominant perspective of economistic valuation.
Now, back to my personal deliberation while I was amazed by the beauty and the misery of the markets in the Mekong Delta: “To have or not to have”, that was the question. The answer is that various goals and features embodied in valuation, this is not just about pricing or calculation.

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BITS & BRIEFS: Globalization Revisited // Vulnerability of finance as economic pathology // Engels rebuts Malthus // Varieties of currency

Friedrich Engels Thomas Malthus

Friedrich Engels /   Thomas Malthus

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What is Money?

“Money is not a “mere voucher for unspecified utilities”, which could be altered at will without any fundamental effect on the character of the price system as a struggle of man against man. “Money” is, rather, primarily a weapon in this struggle, and prices are expressions of the struggle; they are instruments of calculation only as estimated quantifications of relative chances in this struggle of interests.” (Max Weber)

Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. University of California Press. (p. 108)

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Great academic opportunities: 7 calls for papers, 6 job openings, 5 summer schools, 2 postdoc and 2 doctoral positions

Dear the ES/PE community members, see below an abundant list of great and interesting academic opportunities:call for papers 7 calls for papers for conferences, 6 job openings, 5 calls for summer schools for PhD students and junior scholars, 2 post-doctoral positions and 2 doctoral fellowships in various topics in economic sociology and political economy, with March 31–April 20 deadlinesShare this list with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for papers:

Summer Schools:

PhD fellowships:

Job openings:

Post-doctoral positions:

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The Waste of the Progress

“Thy Kingdom Come” by Chester Arnold (1999)

The Waste of the Progress

While shelf life gets shorter and fashions rotate,
Consumption is a skipping rope to leap over a payroll date.
Acquire your duds, use and throw them away…
The Progress rolls down a slope anyway.
                                                                         
                                                                          (by Oleg Komlik)
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BITS & BRIEFS: Distorted antitrust regulations // Separating race from class in US // Prosumer capitalism and McUniversity // Effects of restructured corporations

Standard oil octopus

Standard Oil octopus, a cartoon by Udo J. Keppler, 1904

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The Burden of Nations: Debt and Compound Interest

The disappointing outcome of the G8 Okinawa summit regarding the initiative for debt relief for impoverished and indebted countries of the Global South, led President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo to proclaim in August 2000:

All that we had borrowed up to 1985 or 1986 was around $5 billion and we have paid about $16 billion yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors’ interest rates. If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest.” (Jubilee 2000 news update, 18 August 2000)

About two years ago, I asserted that debt is a product of power relations, and elaborated a definition of debt and a neologismneoliberal pauperism‘. My intention then was to grasp the notion and depict the phenomenon of debt on an individual, family or community levels entwined in the broader context of a political economy:

Debt is a product of power relations which inherently exhibits capturing and dominating mechanisms of subordination, appropriation and exploitation in various societal, political and economic fields. Debt is degrading institutional tool which not merely controls and masters labor in advance, it also self- and socially estranging, and entangling the indebted person solely into the ropes of economistic valuation. Contemporary societies are burdened by the Neoliberal Pauperism which is a state of dragging-down indebtedness disguised as a fictitious “trickled-down” wealth.”

The point is that if we expand the analytical scope, the above articulation of debtor-creditor framework is essentially applicable to the relations of the Global North (industrialized “core” countries, international governance organizations, and western financial and corporate minotaurs) and the Global South (developing “peripheral” formerly colonized countries). If we look at the timing of this scene, the year 2000 – in the height of the “Globalization-End of History-Third Way” banquet – this implication is certainly valid, particularly when we read the conditions (known as “structural adjustment” programmes) set by the powerful G8 states, purely reflecting the neoliberal ideology: 

“We encourage those HIPCs [heavily indebted poor countries] that have not done so to embark quickly on the process by beginning to develop Poverty Reduction Strategies, in close cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF, and thus benefit from debt reduction.”

Ann Pettifor, the leader of Jubilee 2000 a worldwide public campaign devoted to this issue, commented on this shameful approach of the richest states:

“This will be known as the Squandered Summit. While the G8 leaders have enjoyed Japan’s $750 million hospitality, they have squandered an historic opportunity to cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest countries. They have squandered the hope of a fresh start for the world’s poorest people in this new millennium. Their failure to act on third world debt cancellation was the defining moment of the summit.”

Well, times apparently changed, locations probably too, but the essence of debt bondage and the mounting burden of indebtedness, in every aspect and level, remains the same — debt is a product of power relations.

Jubilee 2000 debt

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