Spring 2010 | Autumn 2009
17th March - Fisher, Mark (2009)
Capitalism Realism: Is There No Alternative?
‘It is easier to
imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. After 1989,
capitalism has successfully presented itself as the only realistic
political-economic system - a situation that the bank crisis of 2008,
far from ending, actually compounded. The book analyses the development
and principal features of this capitalist realism as a lived ideological
framework. Using examples from politics, films(Children Of Men , Jason
Bourne, Supernanny), fiction(Le Guin and Kafka), work and education, it
argues that capitalist realism colours all areas of contemporary
experience, is anything but realistic and asks how capitalism and its
inconsistencies can be challenged.’
24th February - Moser, Ingunn (2008)
‘Making Alzheimer’s disease matter. Enacting, interfering and doing
politics of nature’, Geoforum, 39: 98-110.
This article contributes
to recent discussions about the politics of nature by exploring how
Alzheimer’s disease is being shaped as a ‘matter of concern. Drawing on
work on differences in medicine from science and technology studies, and
from the geographies of naturecultures, it explores the ‘mattering’ of
this disease in a number of locations including: an international
Alzheimer’s patients’ movement; a medical textbook; laboratory science;
daily care practice; an advertisement for anti-dementia medication;
general practice; parliamentary politics; and a conference on dementia.
It explores how these locations interfere and
co-exist with one another and argues against the ‘science centrism’ of
science and technology studies which contributes to the dominance of
science and medicine by granting these analytical privilege. The same
problem is posed in the recent STS turn from science to politics – the
danger is that politics is similarly privileged.
Law, John and Mol, Annemarie (2008)
‘Globalisation in practice: On the politics of boiling pigswill’,
Geoforum, 39: 133-143.
ABSTRACT: ‘This paper is about ‘material
politics’. It argues that this may be understood as a material ordering
of the world in a way that contrasts this with other and equally
possible alternative modes of ordering. It also suggests that while
material politics may well involve words, it is not discursive in kind.
This argument is made for the mundane and material practice of boiling
pigswill that the 2001 UK foot and mouth outbreak showed to have a
Boiling pigswill was a political technique in at
least three different ways. First it made difference, dividing the rich
from the poor by separating disease free countries from those in which
foot and mouth is endemic. Second, it joined times and places by linking
past agricultural practices with those of the contemporary world, and
linking Britain with the world. And third, it also showed a way of
limiting food scarcity on a world wide scale because it allowed food to
be recycled, albeit on a small scale, in a region of plenty.
‘Politics’ is often linked to debate, discussion, or
explicit contestation. Alternatively, it is sometimes seen as being
embedded in and carried by artefacts. For the case of boiling pigswill
neither approach is satisfactory. The West privileges the life of the
mind while in the second politics is linked too strongly to a single
order. The version of politics presented here foregrounds both
materiality and difference. And it involves articulation: the question
is not whether something is political all by itself but whether it can
be called political as part of the process of analysing it.’
10th February - Painter, J. (2006)
‘Prosaic geographies of stateness’, Political Geography, 25: 752-74.
long-standing calls to rethink the state ‘as a social relation, reified
understandings that view the state as a differentiated institutional
realm separate from civil society are notably persistent in academic and
political debate. By contrast, this paper focuses on the myriad ways in
which everyday life is permeated by the social relations of stateness,
and vice versa.
The paper reviews the conceptual difficulties in
defining ‘the state’ and suggests that these can be addressed in part
through a focus on the mundane practices that give rise to ‘state
effects’. It considers how the concept of prosaics, based on the work of
Mikhail Bakhtin, might provide a fruitful approach for studying such
practices, their geographies and the geographies of state effects.
A case study of the governance of anti-social
behaviour in the UK is used to show the potential application of this
approach in empirical research. The paper concludes with some
reflections on possible future avenues of research.’
20th January - Dietz, T., Gardner, T.,
Gilligan, J., Stern, P. and Vandenbergh, M. (2009) ‘Household actions
can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce U.S. carbon emissions’,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(44): 18452-6.
Most climate change policy attention has been addressed to long-term
options, such as inducing new, low-carbon energy technologies and
creating cap-and-trade regimes for emissions. We use a behavioral
approach to examine the reasonably achievable potential for near-term
reductions by altered adoption and use of available technologies in U.S.
homes and nonbusiness travel.
We estimate the plasticity of 17 household action
types in 5 behaviorally distinct categories by use of data on the most
effective documented interventions that do not involve new regulatory
measures. These interventions vary by type of action and typically
combine several policy tools and strong social marketing. National
implementation could save an estimated 123 million metric tons of carbon
per year in year 10, which is 20% of household direct emissions or 7.4%
of U.S. national emissions, with little or no reduction in household
The potential of household action deserves increased
policy attention. Future analyses of this potential should incorporate
behavioral as well as economic and engineering elements.’
Wapner, P. and Willoughby, J. (2006)
‘The irony of environmentalism: the ecological futility and economic
necessity of lifestyle change’, Ethics and International Affairs, 19(3):
ABSTRACT: Environmentalists argue that we need to reduce
population and consumption to protect the environment, and that this is
something we can all do by individually choosing to have smaller
families and buying fewer products. This article questions the
ecological effects of such choice.
When people have fewer children or reduce their
consumption, they save money. What they then do with this money is
crucial to the consequences of their actions. If they place it in
conventional financial mechanisms, such as banks or stocks, they merely
shift the locale of environmental harm since these mechanisms, within a
capitalist economy, redeploy savings into further investment and
For individual lifestyle choices to make a
difference, environmentalists must find ways of linking such choices to
efforts aimed at changing the nature of capitalist economies. If we had
effective public policies that redistributed income, forced polluters to
pay for the harm they cause, mandated more environmentally friendly
technologies, and reduced the workday in the richer parts of the world,
we could alter the way we live our material lives.’
9th December - Eikenberry, A. (2009) ‘Refusing the market: a democratic discourse for voluntary and non-profit organizations’, Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 38: 582-96.
ABSTRACT: This article extends critical and normative theorizing about the assumptions and implications of marketization for nonprofit and voluntary organizations and suggests an alternative discourse. It describes reasons for the increasing marketization of nonprofit and voluntary organizations and what the literature has shown to be problematic about marketization. It argues that one way to resist colonization by the market is for academics and practitioners of voluntary and nonprofit organizations to create and apply a democratic counterdiscourse.’
25th November - Burawoy, M. (2009) Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections and Imaginations in a Postmodern World, Berkeley: University of California Press.
This book explores the mutual shaping of local struggles and global forces through participant observation, producing a method of 'grounded globalisation'. It shows how groups negotiate, circumvent, challenge, and even re-create the complex global web that entangles them.
4th November - Gentile, A. and Tarrow, S. (2009) 'Charles Tilly, globalization, and labor’s citizen rights', European Political Science Review, 1(3): 465–93.
ABSTRACT: Since the 1990s, observers have seen globalization impairing labor’s rights. We take Charles Tilly as an exemplar of this view, subjecting his 1995 article to critical appreciation. We argue that Tilly, known for his work on the National Social Movement, overlooked the fact that some unions under pressure from global neo-liberalism can employ a protest repertoire employing their citizen rights, while others continue to use labor rights.
We use port workers, who are directly exposed to globalization, to show how different political opportunity structures and different strategic choices influence these choices. In Sweden, our exemplar of a neo-corporatist system, we find that the employment of labor rights continues to be robust; in the USA, our exemplar of a fully-fledged neo-liberal system, we find much greater recourse to a repertoire calling on citizen rights.
Finally, in Australia and Great Britain, countries undergoing a shift to neo-liberalism in the 1980s and 1990s, we show that strategic choice influences how effectively unions adapt to shifts towards neo-liberalism: Australian unions effectively used citizen rights
while the British port unions failed to make this strategic shift.
21st October - Narayan, Y. (2009) ‘On post-colonial authority: Caribbeanness, reiteration and political community’, Cultural Studies, 23(4): 605-23.
The article deals with issues of cultural identity in relation to postcolonial authority and political community through psychoanalytical engagement with Stuart Hall's theorisations of cultural identity.
10th June - Fraser, N. (2009)
'Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History', New Left Review, 56,
March/April, pp. 97-117).
This article explores the relationship between second-wave feminism,
neoliberal capitalism and its alternatives.
29th April - Moran, M. (2002)
‘Understanding the regulatory state’, British Journal of Political
Science, 32: 391-413.
EXCERPT (p. 391): Are we seeing here a response to some common changes
in the character of state organization? Are we witnessing the rise of a
new way of thinking about the study of the state which escapes the
conventional disciplinary boundaries of political science (a claim often
made for the concept of ‘regulation’ itself as a field of study)?2 Or
are we just seeing the spread of a linguistic ‘tic’ – part of the mania
for pinning an adjective on the traditional focus of enquiry in
political science, the state? If the regulatory state does indeed exist,
is it truly something new, and is its novelty similar in all the
various places where it has allegedly been observed?’
25th March - Law, J. (2004)
Introduction to After Method: Mess in Social Science Research, NY and
From an Amazon.com editorial
review: John Law argues that methods don't just describe social
realities but are also involved in creating them. The implications of
this argument are highly significant, as if this is the case, methods
are always political, and it raises the question of what kinds of social
realities we want to create.
18th February - Castree, N. (2006)
‘From neoliberalism to neoliberalisation: consolations, confusions and
necessary illusions’, Environment and Planning A, 38: 1-6.
Of late, I have been conducting a review of empirical research that
analyses the relationships between neoliberalism and the nonhuman world.
When published, the review will, I hope, be a useful way-station in
advancing our understanding of these relationships. In a short space of
time there has been a proliferation of research into the `nature of
neoliberalism and the neoliberalisation of nature' (McCarthy and
Until recently neoliberalism had been the topical
preserve of critically minded urban, economic, and development
geographers. Now, though, a cohort of environmental geographers - also
critically minded - have turned their attention to how the non-human
world affects and is affected by neoliberal programmes. [...]’