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201

How to Study Contemporary Capitalism?

6
terms
4
notes

Streeck, W. (2016). How to Study Contemporary Capitalism?. In Streeck, W. How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System. Verso, pp. 201-226

201

To study contemporary capitalism, I argue, sociology must go back before the disciplinary division of labour with economics negotiated on its behalf by its twentieth century founding figure, Talcott Parsons. For this it will be helpful to rediscover the sociology in classical economists from Smith to Pareto, Marshall, Keynes and Schumpeter, and the economics in classical sociologists like Weber, Sombart, Mauss and Veblen, to name only a few. Particular interest might usefully be paid to the institutional economics of the Historische Schule and to Marx the social theorist, as opposed to the deterministic economist. The lesson to be learned from all of them is that capitalism denotes both an economy and a society, and that studying it requires a conceptual framework that does not separate the one from the other.

—p.201 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

To study contemporary capitalism, I argue, sociology must go back before the disciplinary division of labour with economics negotiated on its behalf by its twentieth century founding figure, Talcott Parsons. For this it will be helpful to rediscover the sociology in classical economists from Smith to Pareto, Marshall, Keynes and Schumpeter, and the economics in classical sociologists like Weber, Sombart, Mauss and Veblen, to name only a few. Particular interest might usefully be paid to the institutional economics of the Historische Schule and to Marx the social theorist, as opposed to the deterministic economist. The lesson to be learned from all of them is that capitalism denotes both an economy and a society, and that studying it requires a conceptual framework that does not separate the one from the other.

—p.201 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

an act of subsuming

202

a progressive subsumption of social life under the organizing principles of a capitalist economy is an inherent ever-present danger of life under capitalism that needs to be politically counteracted.

—p.202 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

a progressive subsumption of social life under the organizing principles of a capitalist economy is an inherent ever-present danger of life under capitalism that needs to be politically counteracted.

—p.202 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

(noun) a judicial decision or sentence / (noun) a decree in bankruptcy / (verb) to settle judicially / (verb) to act as judge

202

‘the economy’ appears as producing inputs for politics, in the form of competing group interests, preferably presenting themselves as functional imperatives of efficient economic management, that need to be politically adjudicated.

—p.202 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

‘the economy’ appears as producing inputs for politics, in the form of competing group interests, preferably presenting themselves as functional imperatives of efficient economic management, that need to be politically adjudicated.

—p.202 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

(noun) the Marxist theory of history and society that holds that ideas and social institutions develop only as the superstructure of a material economic base

202

Unlike in what I believe are simplistic readings of Marxian political economy, or ‘historical materialism’, noting the hegemonic tendencies of the capitalist economy in a capitalist society does not imply that ‘the economy’ is always the predominant ‘subsystem’ of a society, in the way of a ‘substructure’ governing a ‘superstructure’.

—p.202 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

Unlike in what I believe are simplistic readings of Marxian political economy, or ‘historical materialism’, noting the hegemonic tendencies of the capitalist economy in a capitalist society does not imply that ‘the economy’ is always the predominant ‘subsystem’ of a society, in the way of a ‘substructure’ governing a ‘superstructure’.

—p.202 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

an ancient religious movement that has to do with duality? "an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness"

208

under capitalism, it is essentially driven and shaped by what Karl Polanyi has characterized as an almost Manichaean battle between a ‘movement’ towards liberalization and ‘counter-movements’ for social stabilization, or for collective political control over markets and the direction of social change

on politics

—p.208 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

under capitalism, it is essentially driven and shaped by what Karl Polanyi has characterized as an almost Manichaean battle between a ‘movement’ towards liberalization and ‘counter-movements’ for social stabilization, or for collective political control over markets and the direction of social change

on politics

—p.208 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago
209

[...] needs are dynamic, and especially in capitalism; that what is ‘necessary’ for life is to a large extent socially defined, i.e., necessary only for social life in a given society; and that outside of the limiting case of complete deprivation, scarcity is neither absolute nor open-ended but socially contingent and constructed. [...]

If human needs are not fixed but fluid and socially and historically contingent, it must follow that scarcity is, to a considerable extent, a matter of collective imagination, and the more so the richer a society ‘objectively’ is. The insight that it is importantly imaginations that drive economic behaviour – imaginations that, other than material necessities, are inherently dynamic – points to a cultural-symbolic dimension of economic life. [...]

—p.209 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

[...] needs are dynamic, and especially in capitalism; that what is ‘necessary’ for life is to a large extent socially defined, i.e., necessary only for social life in a given society; and that outside of the limiting case of complete deprivation, scarcity is neither absolute nor open-ended but socially contingent and constructed. [...]

If human needs are not fixed but fluid and socially and historically contingent, it must follow that scarcity is, to a considerable extent, a matter of collective imagination, and the more so the richer a society ‘objectively’ is. The insight that it is importantly imaginations that drive economic behaviour – imaginations that, other than material necessities, are inherently dynamic – points to a cultural-symbolic dimension of economic life. [...]

—p.209 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

make (something abstract) more concrete or real

209

Much of contemporary political economy clings to a reified notion of scarcity as an objective condition with respect to objectively needed material requirements of life

—p.209 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

Much of contemporary political economy clings to a reified notion of scarcity as an objective condition with respect to objectively needed material requirements of life

—p.209 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago
210

[...] dreams, promises and imagined satisfaction are not at all marginal but, on the contrary, central. While standard economics and, in its trail, standard political economy, recognize the importance of confidence and consumer spending for economic growth, they do not do justice to the dynamically evolving nature of the desires that make consumers consume. A permanent underlying concern in advanced capitalist societies is that markets may at some point become saturated, resulting in stagnant or declining spending and, worse still, in diminished effectiveness of monetized work incentives. It is only if consumers, almost all of whom live far above the level of material subsistence, can be convinced to discover new needs, and thereby render themselves ‘psychologically’ poor, that the economy of rich capitalist societies can continue to grow. [...]

willing slaves of capital &c

—p.210 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

[...] dreams, promises and imagined satisfaction are not at all marginal but, on the contrary, central. While standard economics and, in its trail, standard political economy, recognize the importance of confidence and consumer spending for economic growth, they do not do justice to the dynamically evolving nature of the desires that make consumers consume. A permanent underlying concern in advanced capitalist societies is that markets may at some point become saturated, resulting in stagnant or declining spending and, worse still, in diminished effectiveness of monetized work incentives. It is only if consumers, almost all of whom live far above the level of material subsistence, can be convinced to discover new needs, and thereby render themselves ‘psychologically’ poor, that the economy of rich capitalist societies can continue to grow. [...]

willing slaves of capital &c

—p.210 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago
212

[...] More money than ever is today being spent by firms on advertisement and on building and sustaining the popular images and auras on which the success of a product seems to depend in saturated markets. In particular, the new channels of communication made available by the interactive internet seem to be absorbing a growing share of what firms spend on the socialization and cultivation of their customers. A rising share of the goods that make today’s capitalist economies grow would not sell if people dreamed other dreams than they do – which makes understanding, developing and controlling their dreams a fundamental concern of political economy in advanced-capitalist society

the hellscape that is the marketing industry is nothing more than the psychological arm of capitalism in its attempt to create more willing slaves

—p.212 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

[...] More money than ever is today being spent by firms on advertisement and on building and sustaining the popular images and auras on which the success of a product seems to depend in saturated markets. In particular, the new channels of communication made available by the interactive internet seem to be absorbing a growing share of what firms spend on the socialization and cultivation of their customers. A rising share of the goods that make today’s capitalist economies grow would not sell if people dreamed other dreams than they do – which makes understanding, developing and controlling their dreams a fundamental concern of political economy in advanced-capitalist society

the hellscape that is the marketing industry is nothing more than the psychological arm of capitalism in its attempt to create more willing slaves

—p.212 by Wolfgang Streeck 4 years, 4 months ago

(adjective) requiring immediate aid or action / (adjective) requiring or calling for much; demanding

218

As couples spend more time in employment, they have less time for children. This means they must externalize childcare, either to the market or to the state. Of course many have no children at all, devoting their time entirely to the exigencies and attractions, as the case may be, of work and consumption.

—p.218 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago

As couples spend more time in employment, they have less time for children. This means they must externalize childcare, either to the market or to the state. Of course many have no children at all, devoting their time entirely to the exigencies and attractions, as the case may be, of work and consumption.

—p.218 by Wolfgang Streeck
notable
4 years, 4 months ago