Inequality — The Reality in Two Push Alerts


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A Demonstration of the Causal Power of Absences

Professor of philosophy Tyron Goldschmidt recently published a compelling paper “A Demonstration of the Causal Power of Absences“. Take a look and mull over:

A Demonstration of the Causal Power of Absences-1


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BITS & BRIEFS: Economics and nature //  Fair taxation // Land-backed currency // Post-growth economy // Life and death in India

Ditch the belief that economics is about mechanical rules; Work with, not against, nature’s resources — by Prof. Kate Raworth

Neither inequality nor suffrage nor globalization influenced tax rates; But perceptions about what is a fair tax system — argues Prof. Julia Ott 

> History of money and revolution: An attempt to create a land-backed currency in the 1790s France — a podcast with Prof. Rebecca Spang 

Organizing for the Post-Growth economy: a special (open-access) issue of Ephemera on critical and creative thinking on growth and sustainability 

Urban poverty, hard labour, and pervasive corruption: a review of two interesting books on life and death in India — by Prof. Emma Tarlo

ecology economy economics***
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BITS & BRIEFS: Habermas, capitalism and democracy // British class system // Neoliberalism and Digital Humanities // Food Industrial Complex // Promoting knowledge or special interests

Jürgen Habermas: the great thinker in the nexus between capitalism and democracy — a great review essay by William E. Scheuerman of a great book by Stefan Müller-Doohm 

The British class system is becoming more polarized between a prosperous elite and a poor precariat, shows the largest British class survey ever — by Mike Savage

How Digital Humanities, pushed  by university administrators, influenced the neoliberal restructuring of academia — by Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia 

>  Why pizza is a vegetable and how to nourish profits: The power and hypocrisy of the Food Industrial Complex

> Promoting knowledge or special interests? Are they think tank researchers, scholars or corporate consultants?  – It depends on the day

Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas

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Theodor Adorno on the division between economics and sociology

Introduction to sociology AdornoIn May-July 1968, Theodor W. Adorno, an eminent philosopher, sociologist and one of the founders of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, gave his last lecture series which were published in 2000 as Introduction to Sociology. In these accessible and lucid seventeen talks (different from his regular writing style), Adorno traced the history of sociology, defended the Frankfurt School against criticism from positivist sociologists, and posed sociology as an over-arching discipline that impinges on all aspects of social life.
The following excerpt is from the 16th lecture in which Adorno discusses the disciplinary separation between economics and sociology, despite their essential interrelatedness and reciprocal influence. Adorno’s critical account of mainstream economics as well as sociology reflects the state of both disciplines (especially in the US) in the 1960s. It will take about 15-20 years till ‘new’ economic sociology will start its triumphal scholarly march in the 1980s and additional 15-20 years till economics will gradually begin to realize its inward intellectual poverty in the shadow of the 2008 financial crisis.
Anyway, Adorno’s insights are as relevant and important today as forty years ago.

The strict moats dug between the differentiated scientific disciplines cause the intrinsic interest of these disciplines to disappear; and this interest cannot be restored by retrospective cooperation or integration—for example, by mutually explaining findings or discovering formal agreements between structures identified, say, by sociology and economics. This is simply because something secondary, assembled after the event from factors (as they’re called), is made to appear as what is decisive and concrete; and the purpose of science, ultimately—as the positivists in particular ought to admit—is to engage with social concreteness, and not to gratify itself with schematic classifications. […]
My thesis is quite simply that the strict division between economics and sociology, the consequence of which is unquestionably to dismiss the Marxian theory ante portas, causes the decisive social interests of both disciplines to disappear; and that precisely through this separation they both fail to assert their real interests, what really matters in them[…]

The economic relationships between people, though ostensibly of a purely economic, calculable nature, are in reality nothing but congealed interpersonal relationships. Sociology, on the other hand, in concerning itself only with relationships between people without paying too much attention to their objectified economic form, acts as if everything really depended on these interpersonal relationships or even on the opportunities open to social actions, and not on those mechanisms. What is lost in the gap between them—and this gap is to be understood not topologically, but as something really missing from the thought of both disciplines—is exactly that which was once referred to by the term ‘political economy’.”  (Adorno 2000: 141-142; emphasizes are mine)

See here the whole lecture (open access), given on 9 July 1968, in which before tackling the subject matter, Adorno struggling with the air conditioner.

Adorno, Theodor W. 2000Introduction to Sociology, edited by Christoph Godde and translated by Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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Great academic opportunities: 11 calls for papers, 5 postdocs, 5 PhD fellowships, 5 summer schools, and 3 job openings

Dear ES/PE community member, see below an abundant list of great and interesting academic opportunities: call for papers8 calls for papers for conferences, 5 post-doctoral positions, 5 PhD fellowships,  5 calls for summer schools, 3 calls for contributions to journals specials issues, 3 job openings — in various areas of economic sociology and political economy, with May 31 – June 15 deadlines. Several conferences and schools are partially funded.
Share this post with your colleagues and students. Good luck!

Calls for Papers:

> CfP: “The Great Transformation and Contemporary Crises“, the 14th International Karl Polanyi Conference, Karl Polanyi Institute Asia in Seoul (South Korea), October 14-16, 2017. DL: May 31

> CfP: “Ten years since the global financial crisis: Social movements, labour & the crisis last time” workshop by The Australian Sociological Association’s ‘Sociology of Economic Life’ and ‘Work, Employment and Social Movements’ groups, held concurrently in Perth – Melbourne – Sydney, 1st December, 2017. The workshop will take the day after the TASA 2017 conference in Perth. DL: June 1

> CfP: “Taking the next step: new frontiers in the interdisciplinary study of finance“, the Warwick Critical Finance Group’s workshop for early-career researchers, University of Warwick (UK), 25-26 September 2017. Funds are available to support travel expenses for a number of unfunded participants. DL: June 1

CfP: “Creating a unified foundation for the Sustainable Development: research, practice and education“, the 5th ICSD conference, Roma Eventi Piazza della Pilotta (Rome, Italy), 6-7 September 2017. DL: June 10 

> CfP: “Elite human capital and the road to modernity: The East vs the West” conference, Aix Marseille Université (Marseilles, France), October 17-18 2017. Accommodation and meals will be covered.  DL: June 15

> CfP: “Time and Money: Themes In Labour Relations” an International Workshop, Georg-August-University, Göttingen (Germany), 15 – 16 December 2017. DL: June 15 

> CfP: “Sovereignty, Economy and the Global Histories of Natural Resources“, an international symposium at the University of Cambridge, December 18-19, 2017. A limited travel and accommodation support is available. DL: June 15 

> CfP: ““Forging Ahead Towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Globalization”, the Lien International Conference on Governance, Singapore, 27-28 October 2017. DL: June 15 

Calls for Papers for special issues:

> CfP: “The Shrinking State?“, a special issue of Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. DL for abstracts: June 1

> CfP: “Militarism and Capitalism: The Work and Wages of Violence“, a special issue of Radical History Review. DL for abstracts: June 1

CfP: “Corporations, Capitalism and Society: Systemic Constraints in the Business and Society Relationship“, a special issue of Business & Society. DL for manuscripts: December 1

Summer Schools:

> CfA: “Institutions, Innovation and Societal Change“, PhD school organized by World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research, Utrecht University (Netherlands), 12-14 September 2017. Accepted students are required to register for the WINIR Conference held after the PhD School. Several grants are available DL: June 1

> CfA: “Global Governance” Summer School for graduate students, University of Leuven (Belgium), 26-30 June 2017. DL: June 1 

> CfA: “Regulation of Local Public Services“, the 20th Edition of International Summer School, Torino (Italy), 4-15 September 2017. There is no participation fee for attendants from new (post 2004) EU Member States and non OECD countries. Free accommodation for all the participants. DL: June 5

> CfA: “Contemporary conditions of critique: power, value(s), economy“, PhD course, Research School on Peace and Conflict (Oslo, Norway), 20-22 September 2017. DL: June 9 

CfA: “Challenging an Unsustainable Economic System: Ethical economic thinking, activist skills for change“, Club of Rome Summer Academy, University of Florence (Italy), September 7-13, 2017. A limited number of grants are available. DL: June 11

Job openings:

> Senior Social Scientist in Labour Politics and EU Governance (part-time), University College Dublin School of Business. DL: June 5 

> Lecturer in Marxism (full time, various ranks), Zhejiang University – College of Humanities and Social Science (Zhejiang, China). DL: June 13 

Assistant Professor in the Economic Sociology of Algorithmic Finance (two three-year and non-tenured positions), Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). DL: June 15

Postdoc positions:

2 Postdoctoral Research Fellows in Labour Politics and the EU’s New Economic Governance Regime (full-time), University College Dublin School of Business. DL: June 5

Postdoc position for a project on “Financialisation of remittances” at the Université de Lausanne (Switzerland). DL: June 6

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (three years) in Labour and Social History, University of Wolverhampton (UK). DL: June 8 

Postdoc in agent-based modelling of algorithmic finance (connected to “Algorithmic Finance: Inquiring into the Reshaping of Financial Markets” project), Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). DL: June 9

Doctoral scholarships:

> PhD Scholarships in “Time and Societal Challenges in a Changing Global Economy”, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). DL: June 1 

7 PhD positions at the doctoral programme in Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento (Italy). Attention will be paid to proposals in the following areas: social change; comparative sociology; welfare and social policies; social inequality and stratification; economic sociology, labour market and organizational studies; migration studies; political sociology. DL: June 1

PhD scholarship “Multinational corporations in the age of anti- globalization” Copenhagen Business School. DL: June 1

> PhD scholarship “Politics and Policies of De-Globalization“, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). DL: June 1 

2 PhD positions within the group “Political and Economic Anthropology of Southeast Asia” at Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle, Germany). DL: June 15 

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BITS & BRIEFS: Pressures of employability // Debt in academic life // Homo Economicus is a man // Funding religion // Racial inequality

Five thought-provoking  and interesting reads:

Employability is a tragic path of self-policing and the constant questioning of personal achievements, while “free-time” has become a mere continuation of the forms of profit-oriented social life — asserts David Frayne 

Why would a tenure-track professor sell his plasma to make rent? A story about debt and credit in academia — by Josh Roiland

“Homo Economicus is a man”; Economics rejects women and discourages those who take up the subject — to the detriment of all, argues Frances Weetman

Religion, economics and wealth: early Methodism was underpinned by a sophisticated management of finance and funding — by Clive Norris

Policy and systemic racism created vast and persistent inequality gaps between white and black in the US — by Tom Shapiro 

debt inequality work

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Economics of Simplism, or why some countries are rich and others poor

Why are some countries poor and others rich

The use of knowledge by one producer does not prevent its use by others. Thus there is no inherent reason that producers in poor countries cannot use the same knowledge as producers in rich countries. If the relevant knowledge is publicly available, poor countries can become rich by having their workers or managers read the appropriate literature. And if the relevant knowledge is proprietary knowledge produced by private R&D, poor countries can become rich by instituting a credible program for respecting foreign firms’ property rights.”
      (Romer, David. 2012. Advanced Macroeconomics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hil. p. 144)

See also: When real people ruin perfect economic models; Homo Economicus should watch what he eats!

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C. Wright Mills on the Personality Market

white-collar-the-american-middle-classesWhite Collar: The American Middle Classes is a pioneering and major study of the American middle class by a prominent sociologist C. Wright Mills, published in 1951. In this book Mills analyzes various aspects of the forming of a new class of the white-collar workers and the social alienation in the (American) advanced capitalism. Mills also probes modern urbanism dominated by bureaucratic units of management and “salesmanship mentality”. In this line of thought, he elaborates the concept of “personality market“, whose theoretical richness and analytical relevance, in my view, have been significantly amplifying since the release of the book, especially in the shadow of the neoliberal myth of meritocracy, pervasive commercialization and the expansion of social media:

“In a society of employees dominated by the marketing mentality, it is inevitable that a personality market should arise. For in the great shift from manual skills to the art of ‘handling’, selling and servicing people, personal or even intimate traits of employees are drawn into the sphere of exchange and become commodities in the labor market… Kindness and friendliness become aspects of personalized service or of public relations of big firms, rationalized to further the sale of something. With anonymous insincerity, the Successful Person thus makes an instrument of his own appearance and personality. (p. 182)
And from the areas of salesmanship proper, the requirements of the personality market have diffused as a style of life. What began as the public and commercial  relations of business have become deeply personal: there is a public-relations aspect to private relations of all sorts including even relations with oneself…
The personality market, the most decisive effect and symptom of the great salesroom, underlies the all pervasive distrust and self-alienation so characteristic of metropolitan people. Without common values and mutual trust, the cash nexus that links one man to another in transient contact has been made subtle in a dozen ways, and made to bite deeper into all areas of life and relations. People are required by the salesman ethic and convention to pretend interest in others in order to manipulate them… Men are estranged from one another as each secretly tries to make an instrument of the other, and in time a full circle is made: one makes an instrument of himself and is estranged from it also.(Mills 1951: 187-8)

See the full book (in various open-access formats) here:
Mills, C. Wright. 1951. White Collar: The American Middle Classes. New York: Oxford University Press.

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BITS & BRIEFS: In defense of hierarchy // Piketty’s new findings // Turning point in think tanks’ history // When corporations led to equality // Marginalization of racial (in)justice

This time — especially worth reading (and sharing) articles:

> In defense of hierarchy: nowadays society has forgotten the benefits of hierarchy, expertise and excellence — by Prof. Stephen C. Angle 

> The very latest and striking findings from Piketty, Saez & co: (lack of) income growth  and  inequality in the US, China, France 1978-2015 

Unlike the think tanks of today, in the 1930s foundations were studiously nonpartisan. This changed in the 1970s when the Chicago Boys’ moment came along with Pinochet’s coup in Chile — by Prof. Daniel Immerwahr

The postwar era of corporate dominance corresponded to a period of remarkable economic growth, social mobility and relative income equality – by Prof. Jerry Davis

> Decolonization downplayed the impact of the racist past on the present configuration of wealth and opportunities — an interview with Prof. Charles Mills  

employment income inequality

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