Book

New Spirits of Capitalism?

Edited by Paul du Gay and Glenn Morgan

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199595341
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191750755 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199595341.001.0001
New Spirits of Capitalism?

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After many years in which it appeared to be losing the pre-eminent position it once occupied in the lexicon of the social and human sciences, the term ‘capitalism’ has once again become a matter of critical concern both theoretically and substantively in a range of disciplinary fields. The global financial and environmental crises, and the shifting economic power geometry associated with the rise of the BRICS and the sovereign debt contagion in the Eurozone, for example, have all put the norms, practices and devices of capitalist conduct under the spotlight once again. In the social and human sciences, a revived engagement with the nature and effects of contemporary capitalism received a remarkable boost with the publication of Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello's The New Spirit of Capitalism. This text became something of a publishing sensation in its native France, and later in the UK and the USA, sparking debate not simply about the meaning, significance and effects of contemporary mutations in economic and organizational life, but becoming a reference point in political discussions about the future of the welfare state and the possibilities both of collective action in a ‘networked’ world, and of reconciling the interests of social justice with the ‘laws of the markets’. Such a reception is not as surprising as it might first appear, not simply because the themes of the text spoke to a popular sense of discontent concerning the nature, direction and consequences of the ‘neo-liberal’ experiment, but also because the book offered a comprehensive and subtle series of discrete but interrelated arguments combining sociological and cultural analysis, socio-historical narrative, political economy, and engaged advocacy that chimed with ongoing debates about the meaning, significance and effects of changing forms of capitalism and the role of neo-liberalism as these were being articulated in sociology, management and organization studies, economic geography, and political economy, for example. When taken together these arguments offered some important clues as to how and why neo-liberalism had proven so resilient and adaptable when faced with evidence of its own hubris. This edited book offers the first comprehensive attempt to interrogate both the explanatory power and reach of Boltanski and Chiapello's thesis, and the theoretical and methodological perspectives, tools and techniques they developed, and to do so in relation to the development of neo-liberal capitalism in the period since their original publication, and in particular the culmination of these developments in the ongoing crisis since the financial collapse of 2007. The volume provides both a balanced critique and overview of New Spirit, but also shows how it can be used in a variety of empirical studies to develop new insights into the functioning and regulation of capitalism in the contemporary era. The volume brings together leading scholars from a range of disciplinary fields where Boltanski and Chiapelllo's work has received its most serious engagement. Luc Boltanksi and Eve Chiapello also offer their thoughts on the continuing relevance and reach of the New Spirit, over a decade after its publication, and in the context of contemporary global economic and political developments.

Keywords: capitalism; neoliberalism; critique; domination; justification; crisis; Weber; bureaucracy; office; person; new public management; State; freedom

Book.  352 pages. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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Table of Contents

A Journey Through French-Style Critique in New Spirits of Capitalism?

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Capitalism and Its Criticisms in New Spirits of Capitalism?

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