Understanding Capitalism: Crises, Legitimacy, and Change Through the Prism of <i>The New Spirit of Capitalism</i>

Paul du Gay and Glenn Morgan

in New Spirits of Capitalism?

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199595341
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191750755 | DOI:
Understanding Capitalism: Crises, Legitimacy, and Change Through the Prism of The New Spirit of Capitalism

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This chapter places The New Spirit of Capitalism in the context of the development of capitalism over the last twenty years, up to and including the 200-7-8 financial crisis and the ongoing economic crisis which has developed out of this and is now focused on the relationship between state expenditures, political legitimacy and financial markets. Boltanski and Chiapello's analysis of the projective city and connexionist logic captures important elements of capitalism in the era of neo-liberalism. However, as their analysis shows, any such logics require ‘spirit’, legitimacy and justification if they are to be sustained. Such logics are stabilized to the degree that they can pass the tests which they set themselves. The chapter shows how the projective city has increasingly failed these tests. It has instead created a privileged group of ‘mobile citizens’ working with mobile, global capital in ways that increasingly depend on a static, immobile group who are poorly paid, whose employment rights have been undermined and whose political voice is increasingly ignored. The chapter shows how Boltanski's pragmatist approach to critique as emergent from the experience of the actors themselves rather than being imposed by the analyst provides the basis for an understanding of how social and artistic critiques emerge. Whilst recognizing that New Spirits inevitably bears the marks of its origins in the particular context of France in the late 1990s, the chapter argues that there are key aspects that are of more general application particularly in the context of the current crisis of capitalism.

Keywords: Neoliberalism; critique; domination; justification; legitimation tests

Chapter.  18327 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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