Economy and Society Summer School, 12-16th of May 2014, Blackwater Castle, Cork

blackwater castle

** applications opening Janurary 2014 **

Tom Boland of WIT has asked me to post this call for applications for the Economy & Society Summer School, which will be held in the beautiful Blackwater Castle in Cork.  The school is aimed primarily at doctoral students from across the social sciences, and offers a unique and intensive week of theory, reading, thinking and discussion for up to 30 students.  It is an excellent event, and space, for developing your own thinking and research, and students can also earn credits (5-10 ECTS, 3-6 American Credits), where relevant.  The site with all of the details on the programme, requirements and application etc is HERE.  The blurb is below:

Doctoral candidates from across disciplines in business and social sciences need to address both economy and society. Clearly, the economy shapes society, and economic institutions are irreducibly social. Furthermore, in an increasingly interdisciplinary academic world, sociology, anthropology, politics, geography and history on the one hand, and organisation studies, management, marketing, finance and economics on the other can indeed be mutually illuminating. Thus, this summer school is oriented to the contemporary social science concern with the economy and the turn towards the social in the broad range of economics and business. Bridging the gap between these paradigms and developing a new language to address the intersections of economy and society is a vital contemporary concern.

To some, the economy appears as a sort of autonomous assemblage of law-like forces; supply, demand, labour and capital, and yet it can be concretely investigated through more micro phenomena such as offices, factories, companies, entrepreneurship, internationalisation, networks or cultural practices such as consumerism, leisure and credit. Furthermore, historical perspectives suggest that there is a complex and often surprising lineage in the emergence, transformation and consolidation of money, private property and markets. Another concern is the subjective experience of economic processes, for instance, the trials of job-seeking and ‘selling yourself’, the experience of indebtedness, poverty or social mobility. And in the quest to make a contribution, researchers examining these phenomena look to a broad set of theorists and researchers from across the social sciences, a selection of which will be presented in detail in the summer school reading groups.

The most important political ideas in the last century are liberalism and socialism, both of which are economic philosophies; these paradigms dominate public debate and politics. The main activities of the contemporary state are economic management; taxation, regulation and providing social services. Furthermore, many areas of social and personal life have become suffused with economic logics; we work on ourselves, our families and our relationships; there is a marketplace for ideas, for love and for friendship; we ‘consume’ media history and politics. While there is much to critique in the injustices, excesses and absurdities of the ‘economy’, it is first of all necessary to understand it interpretatively. Since Weber’s ‘protestant ethic’ thesis, it is clear that in modern society one of our highest values, our most important institutions and primary markers of identity is work. Paradoxically, a gulf has opened between economic practices and social norms, even as society has increasingly taken on the market principle.

The Economy and Society summer school aspires to help early stage researchers strengthen and widen their theoretical basis in ways that allows them to position their work amongst broader discourses, extend and sharpen their understanding of their theoretical and empirical practices and to contribute to their formation as independently-minded academics. In this way we hope to offer a space to move beyond the narrowing of fields and hair-splitting discourse of some contemporary research.

Organisers: Tom Boland, Ray Griffin and John O’Brien – Waterford Institute of Technology,
 In collaboration with Kieran Keohane, Colin Sumner and Arpad Szakolczai – University College Cork

Elizabeth Anderson, “Tom Paine and the Ironies of Social Democracy”

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The 2011-12 Dewey Lecture in Law and Philosophy, recorded on February 29, 2012, was presented by Elizabeth Anderson, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Rawls Collegiate Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan.  The talk is introduced by Martha Nussbaum


Critics of every social insurance proposal in the U.S., including recent health care reform, have called them socialist attacks on private property. To be sure, social insurance is a central pillar of social democracy, and social democratic parties originated in a socialist critique of capitalism. Yet the equation of social insurance with socialism is doubly ironic. The first realistic proposal to abolish poverty by means of universal social insurance was Thomas Paine, who explicitly advanced his scheme as a defense of private property against socialist revolutionaries. And the first actual social insurance scheme was introduced by Otto von Bismarck, who advanced it against the German Social Democratic Party, which opposed his plan. This talk will consider how Paine grounded the justification of social insurance in a neo-Lockean theory of private property rights, and explore the implications of the ironic inversion of social insurance from a bulwark of to a perceived assault on capitalism.

“Is Self Interest Enough? A Sociology of Market Society”. Professor Jack Barbalet

Prof. Jack Barbalet is currently Foundation Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Sydney.  This talk, on the notion of self interest in sociology, was his Inaugural Professorial Lecture on taking up this position here.  His work on the sociology of emotions has been particularly influential in my own work.

He was previously Professor of Sociology and Head of Department at the University of Leicester in England and has held positions in sociology at the Australian National University, in political science at the University of Adelaide, and economics at the University of Papua New Guinea. In 2007 he was Scholar-in-Residence at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, in Cologne, Germany. Jack has researched and published widely in sociological theory, political sociology, economic sociology and the sociology of emotions. His publications include Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach (Cambridge University Press 2001), Emotions and Sociology (Blackwell 2002) and Weber, Passion and Profits:”The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” in Context (Cambridge University Press 2008). Jack is presently writing a book, descriptively called The Constitution of Markets, to be published by Oxford University Press.

The abstract for the talk linked here is below:

The concept of self interest has been core to European understandings of individual motivation and behaviour at least since the seventeenth century. It remains today central for homo economicus and integral to the notion of rational action. While sociology as a discipline has in many ways developed through critical engagement with this and associated ideas, the incompleteness of its resolution of concern with them indicates the resilience of self interest in both popular and academic discussion. It is not enough to point to evidence of selfless or other-interested behaviour because they are readily assimilated into accounts premised on self interest. Other-interestedness can be regarded as a qualifying trait of self interest or as an external constraint on it, leaving the basic structure of self interest intact. Neither is it sufficient to point to the social structural and interactional preconditions of self interest. Such accounts step over rather than provide an alternative to those premised on self interest: indeed, they tend to leave the question of action itself in doubt. In this lecture a quite different approach to self interest will be taken, that summarizes Jack Barbalet’s recent and current research, which examines insufficiently articulated assumptions concerning personal identity in the nature of “self” as well as inadequately understood aspects of “interested” action. The approach offered here encourages an appreciation of the complexity of the concept and experience of self and identity and the temporality of action in which orientation to future outcomes is germane. Additionally, it will be shown that the goals of action or the preferences of the actor are not necessarily know prior to an action but emerge through it. The resulting transformation of the concept of self interest is foundation to a sociology of markets and economy.

Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey

Many of the posts here at TT have more to do with my teaching quota at NUI Galway than anything else.  Here I am posting Harvey‘s well known course on Das Kapital (volume 1) explicitly with this in mind, in the hopes that I can encourage some final year students of political science & sociology to engage with theory at a deeper level and to shake them up  up a bit.  I may of course be tilting at windmills.  Again.  As usual.

First off, then, is the text.  A free copy of volume 1 of Capital is available here, from the Marxist Internet Archive (along with all of Marx’s other writings and the writings of every prominant Marxist).

The links to the course are here.  There are around 15 videos in total, all around 80-90 minutes in length.  He also has a new book A Companion to Marx’s Capital which might be of interest.  Chapter 1 is available here.

<object width=”400″ height=”300″><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”movie” value=”;;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0&#8243; /><embed src=”;;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0&#8243; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”400″ height=”300″></embed></object><p><a href=”″>Class 02 Reading Marx’s Capital</a> from <a href=””>David Harvey</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>