12/06/2019 research seminar
Financial education: An answer to the financialization of everyday life?
Jeanne Lazarus (CNRS, Sciences-Po)
Discussant: Mikołaj Pawlak (University of Warsaw)More
The general lack of financial literacy among the citizens of developed countries has become an increasingly important political issue over the past fifteen years. It has been the subject of international bodies’ concerns (OECD, IMF, G20), and many countries developed national strategies of financial education. Nonetheless, the French government has long been reluctant to implement these policies, considering that the OECD framing did not suit the French situation. In this paper, I explain why in 2015, a French national strategy has been launched, that takes up in full the policy drawn up by the OECD. From this case, I show how public policies are trying to develop ways of protecting citizens from finance, by finance.
28/05/2019 research seminar
‘Not for housing’ housing: Widening the scope of housing studies
Richard Ronald (University of Amsterdam)
Discussant: Karolina Mikołajewska-Zając (Kozminski University)More
Historically, the main focus of the study of housing in advanced economies has been on houses that meet the accommodation needs of households: houses as the main residence of families. In recent decades there has been the growth in the numbers of houses used for purposes other than as a main residence, for example in the forms of the recent global spread of Airbnb and of foreign engagement in housing as an investment tool. Specifically, the advance of disruptive, financialized technologies in various sectors has meant that alongside a set of ‘for housing’ houses (FHH) another, overlapping, set of ‘not for housing’ houses (NFHH) is emerging. The present paper begins by identifying four types of NFHH, and considers the significance of their growth. It argues that while the NFHH sector is relatively small, it has large impacts, and these are such that they challenge housing researchers and policy makers to develop additional ways of looking at housing systems. (See the paper co-written with John Doling here).
10/04/2019 trilateral workshop at the MPIfG in Cologne
Crisis of expectations — expectations of crisis
This workshop, organised on 10-11 April 2019 in Cologne by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG), by the Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies, and by our Max Planck Partner Group, focused on the notion of crisis as an empirical phenomenon and a theoretical category. We investigated the notion through the vantage point of expectations and the temporal order of modern societies. We asked the question: What is the relationship between expectations and crises? (Click here [PDF] for the full program).More
We appear to live in an age of crisis. From the mortgage and financial crises of 2008 to the constitutional crisis in Eastern Europe or the various migrant crisis; from individualized crises like burnout to industrial crises or the climate crisis of the entire planet: the number of situations described as “crisis” seems to be growing exponentially. This workshop focuses on the notion of crisis as an empirical phenomenon and a theoretical category, but investigates the notion through the vantage point of expectations and the temporal order of modern societies. It asks the question: What is the relationship between expectations and crises? The large literature related to self-fulfilling prophecies shows that situations of crises, especially economic and political ones, can be triggered by expectations. On the other hand, by making pre-existing expectations redundant, moments of crises intensify the discussion about the future and bring expectations to the fore. Moreover, the experience of repeated, accelerated crises can hamper peoples’ ability to engage with an achievable future. (Click here [PDF] for the full program).
06/11/2018 research seminar
The moral power of money
Ariel Wilkis (Instituto de Altos Estudios Sociales)
Discussant: Marta Olcoń-Kubicka (MPPG IFiS PAN)More
Looking beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary social interactions, The moral power of money investigates the forces of power and morality at play, particularly among the poor. Drawing on fieldwork in a slum of Buenos Aires, Ariel Wilkis argues that money is a critical symbol used to negotiate not only material possessions, but also the political, economic, class, gender, and generational bonds between people. Through vivid accounts of the stark realities of life in Villa Olimpia, Wilkis highlights the interplay of money, morality, and power. Drawing out the theoretical implications of these stories, he proposes a new concept of moral capital based on different kinds, or “pieces,” of money. Each chapter covers a different “piece”—money earned from the informal and illegal economies, money lent through family and market relations, money donated with conditional cash transfers, political money that binds politicians and their supporters, sacrificed money offered to the church, and safeguarded money used to support people facing hardships. This book builds an original theory of the moral sociology of money, providing the tools for understanding the role money plays in social life today.
05/11/2018 workshop at IFiS PAN
The meaning of money
Drawing together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars working on the topic of money, the workshop focused on the phenomenon of multiple currency economies; philosophical theories of money; and the morality of money in the study of consumption.More
Over the last 30 years, there has been a growing interest in money outside of economics. The workshop contributes to this body of work by investigating money both as an object of empirical research in anthropology, sociology, and history, but also as a theoretical category in philosophy. Drawing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars working on the topic of money, the workshop focuses on the phenomenon of multiple currency economies; philosophical theories of money; and the morality of money in the study of consumption.
04/10/2018 research seminar
Knowing where it comes from: Labeling traditional foods to compete in a global market
Fabio Parasecoli (New York University)
Discussant: Renata Hryciuk (University of Warsaw)More
Offering the first broadly comparative analysis of place-based labeling and marketing systems, Knowing where it comes from examines the way claims about the origins and meanings of traditional foods get made around the world, from Italy and France to Costa Rica and Thailand. It also highlights the implications of different systems for both producers and consumers. Labeling regimes have moved beyond intellectual property to embrace community-based protections, intangible cultural heritage, cultural landscapes, and indigenous knowledge. Reflecting a rich array of juridical, regulatory, and activist perspectives, these approaches seek to level the playing field on which food producers and consumers interact.
24/09/2018 seminar at the MPIfG
The role of the future in economic and political sociology: Between stabilizing expectations and extending crises
This seminar, organised on 24-26 September 2018 in Cologne by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) and by the Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies (MaxPo), explored the interest in the future in the social sciences. The importance of actors in the future, the influence of the future, the influence of the future, and the future of the future capitalist development. Other strands of literature in economic geography, anthropology, and history have been developed and used by the authors, as they are predicted and scenarios, as the instruments of market making and the contributors to the crafting of economic interests over time. The seminar aimed to familiarize PhD students with this emerging research agenda. (Click here [PDF] for the full program).More
23/09/2018 research seminar
Neoliberal resilience, democracy and development: Lessons from Latin America and Eastern Europe
Aldo Madariaga (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas Mexico City)
Discussant: Anna Ząbkowicz (Jagiellonian University)More
This book studies the ability of neoliberalism to survive constant challenges and powerful alternatives, i.e. its resilience, studying the trajectory of four Latin American and Eastern European countries: Argentina, Chile, Estonia and Poland. The book provides two arguments: 1) neoliberalism should be understood not just as an economic policy regime, but as a political project. This implies that for understanding neoliberalism’s resilience it is not enough to look at patterns of support and opposition to neoliberal policies by different societal actors; it is crucial to look at how neoliberalism transforms the very bases of social and political organization of societies; 2) that neoliberalism increases its chances of survival by protecting itself from democracy. Three mechanisms are analyzed: empowering neoliberal business elites through privatization (“support creation”); reducing political competition through non-representative political institutions (“opposition blockade”); and reducing policy influence by withdrawing key policy domains from partisan influence (“constitutionalized neoliberalism”). More generally, the book provides insights into the relation between the resilience of neoliberalism, the future of democratic capitalism, and the development prospects of less advanced economies.
13/06/2018 research seminar
Between communism and capitalism: Long-term inequality in Poland, 1892-2015
Paweł Bukowski (London School of Economics) and Filip Novokmet (Paris School of Economics)
Discussant: Kacper Pobłocki (EUROREG)More
This paper presents the long-term income distribution in Poland by combining tax, household survey and national accounts data. We document a U-shaped evolution of inequalities from the end of the 19th century until today. The initial high level was due to the strong concentration of capital income at the top of the distribution. The long-run downward trend was primarily induced by shocks to capital income, from destruction of world wars to changed political and ideological environment. The introduction of communism abruptly reduced inequalities by eliminating private capital income and compressing earnings. Inequality stagnated at low levels during the whole communist period. Yet, after the fall of communism, the Polish inequality experienced a substantial and steady rise and today has reached levels documented in more unequal European countries. Between 1989 and 2015 the top 10% income share increased from 23% to 40% and the top 1% income share from 4% to 14%. Frequently quoted Poland’s transition success has largely benefited top income groups. Over this period, top 1% has captured almost twice as large portion of the total income growth than the bottom 50% (24% versus 13%). While the initial upward adjustment during the transition in the 1990s was induced both by the rise of top labour and capital incomes, the strong rise of top income shares in 2000s was driven solely by the increase in top capital incomes, which make the dominant income source at the top. We relate these developments to processes associated with the new phase in globalisation. Finally, Polish inequality history clearly shows that policies and institutions play an important role in shaping inequality.
23/05/2018 research seminar
Oikonomizing financial economies
José Ossandón (Copenhagen Business School)
Discussant: Mateusz Halawa (MPPG IFiS PAN)More
In the wake of the financial crisis, there has been an explosion of interest in the place finance occupies in our societies and economies. In the critical social sciences, much of this interest has been translated through the concept of financialization. Although in many ways useful, it is increasingly being recognized that the concept has its limitations, both theoretically and as an empirical guide. Oikonomising finance, as a theoretical and methodological orientation distinct from work on financialization, is about simultaneously studying the use and practice of finance in domestic settings and the ways in which domestic life is enacted as target of varied financial providers and governed in terms of its financial capabilities. The processes of oikonomization act through domains of life that have been coded differently in different literatures, but include the registers of the everyday, the quotidian, the domestic, the household, the intimate, the habitual, the bodily, the familial, the interpersonal, the experiential. Some of its key features have already been documented and analysed, sometime meticulously. However, it is only rarely that attempts are made to connect together some of the diverse sites through which it operates. In exploring the analytical and methodological possibilities of an oikonomization approach, we aim to variously contribute to discussions around the current state of new economic sociology (and its ‘new new’ variant), as a way on further reflecting on how empirically sensitive, multi-sited studies of economic life can broaden the terrain of sociological attention. Specifically, in our paper, we aim to achieve three things. First, in order to illustrate what we mean by “oikonomizing finance”, we seek to bring together diverse and often disconnected recent literature from research conducted across a wide range of national settings and from different disciplinary environments. Second, we expect to demonstrate that what we term oikonomization adds a particular modification to the study of finance more generally. Third, we argue that oikonomization proceeds through characteristic ‘operations’. In this paper we identify ten that, on the basis of an analysis of a range of literature, we consider to be particularly characteristic of oikonomization processes. These are: budgeting, educating, evaluating, infra-structuring, involving, juggling, keeping, politicizing, sharing, and spending. Each operation is discussed in turn via a range of case studies and examples, as a way of demonstrating the precise mechanisms on which oikonomization processes depend. The particular interest of the paper, however, is not just in naming these operations but also in tracing the flows of finance across and between these (and potentially other) sets of operations. This, we argue, implies a particular empirical commitment which raises challenges to many of methodologies conventionally used to understand the relationships between organisational, governmental, and domestic practices. (Paper in progress co-authored with Joe Deville, Jeanne Lazarus, Mariana Luzzi).
18/04/2018 research seminar
Producing commodities and gifts in the trade of used clothing: Production-oriented and item-oriented models in English charity shops
Emma Greeson (University of San Diego)
Discussant: Mikołaj Lewicki (University of Warsaw)More
Goods move in and out of commodity and gift status throughout their careers or even along one value chain . This paper shows how, through the enaction of different logics of production in competing assemblages, commodities and gifts are produced alongside each other in the same spaces. Ethnographic data from thirteen months of fieldwork in a mid-sized city in England illustrate how donated items are processed in charity shops. Drawing on work on the qualification of goods and material flows through spaces of valuation, this paper identifies infrastructures, labor processes, and narratives which prepare items for sale. Two contrasting organizational models exist: production-oriented and item-oriented. In the production-oriented model, the most important aim of charity retail is to support the charity’s cause via generation of income. For the item-oriented model, the most important aim is to ensure that the individual things passing through the shops do not go to waste. Though these two orientations are not mutually exclusive (and ideally, both aims will be fulfilled), tensions do arise between them as the objects being exchanged are created differently. Whereas the production-oriented model is achieved through high levels of disposal and ridding, as well as the use of “production plans” and other rationalizing tools, the item-oriented project is more focused on repair, salvaging, and matching items with new owners. The tension between the two organizational models is also a tension between commodity and gift relations of exchange, and therefore a struggle for the right to define—and enact—the good and moral mode of allocation.
15/02/2018 kick off-conference at IFiS PAN
Contested futures and temporalities of capitalism
This kick-off conference launching our Max Planck Partner Group was held at the Staszic Palace in Warsaw on 15-16 February 2018. It focused on investigating the notion of expectations as a topic of social research. It brought together the top young scholars working on this topic in the field of sociology, anthropology, and history.More
Topic and goal of the conference
The starting point of the workshop was the theory of “fictional expectations,” recently developed by Jens Beckert. Beckert has argued that in contemporary highly complex and uncertain world, expectations regarding the future should be understood as “fictions.” These fictions have important implications for social, political and economic outcomes; in fact the continual production of these fictions is the driving mechanisms behind the dynamics of contemporary capitalism. Taking this theory as a vantage point, the workshop investigated the role of expectations in economic and social life, as well as the specific temporal order of capitalism. The questions asked during the workshop included: What role do expectations regarding an uncertain future play in social life? How are expectations shaped by social factors and how do they in turn shape social outcomes? How are expectations influenced by moral considerations? What methods can social scientists use to study expectations? What theories have been used to explain and understand expectations and how do they relate to other theories within the disciplines of economic sociology and political economy? These questions were investigated from various theoretical perspectives and in the context of different empirical settings: from household decisions regarding budgeting, questions regarding taking a mortgage, to questions regarding work and consumption, as well as struggles over environmental policy. (With keynote lecture The exhausted futures of neoliberalism by Jens Beckert).