Linear Perspective in Florentine Art, Business, Politics, and Social Mobility.
We are pleased to present our CSES Lecture Series on April 17th, 2014 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Monica Prasad presented her research “Is Neoliberalism Over?”
By neoliberalism I mean a set of policies built around a faith in the free market, and a strong distrust of state intervention. In the United States, we have witnessed a rise in policies of this sort in the last three decades, starting with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In his first inaugural address Reagan said quote “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”; in his lighter moments, Reagan’s joke was “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Reagan’s anti-government approach to government has been a stable presence in American politics ever since. We saw it catch fire again under the presidency of George W. Bush, and we have seen it flare up most recently in the rise of the Tea Party. But there are reasons to wonder whether this era of American neoliberalism might be drawing to a close. For example, nearly half of the American public now holds a negative image of the Tea Party and its extreme anti-government stance, compared with only a third who view it favorably. And Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and they hold one house of Congress today partly thanks to gerrymandering. So, has this era of American history come to a close? Is neoliberalism over?
About the Speaker
Monica Prasad’s areas of interest are economic sociology, comparative historical sociology, and political sociology. Her book The Politics of Free Markets (University of Chicago Press, 2006) won the 2007 Barrington Moore Award from the American Sociological Assocation’s (ASA) section on comparative and historical sociology. Prasad has also published an edited volume on the sociology of taxation, co-edited with Isaac Martin and Ajay Mehrotra, called The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Her most recent book is The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty (Harvard University Press, 2012), which has received three awards, including the 2013 Barrington Moore Award and the Viviana Zelizer Award from the ASA section on economic sociology. Prasad is the recipient of several awards including a Fulbright to the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris in 2011 and a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies also in 2011. She received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award in 2009. With this funding, she and project manager Elisabeth Anderson are conducting a cross-national and longitudinal study of the relationship between income tax progressivity and welfare state spending. Prasad’s most recent book The Land of Too Much develops a demand-side theory of comparative political economy to explain the surprisingly large role of the state in the United States, its origins in the 19th-century revolution in agricultural productivity, and its consequences for undermining a European-style welfare state and leaving U.S. economic growth dependent on “mortgage Keynesianism.” She is currently researching a book manuscript on the Reagan-era tax cut of 1981 and conducting investigations into several aspects of taxation and development with graduate students.
We are pleased to present our CSES Lecture Series on March 27th, 2014 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Marion Fourcade presented her research “Classification Situations: Life-Chances in the Neoliberal Era.”
This article examines the stratifying effects of economic classifications. We argue that in the neoliberal era market institutions increasingly use actuarial techniques to split and sort individuals into classification situations that shape life-chances. While this is a general and increasingly pervasive process, our main empirical illustration comes from the transformation of the credit market in the United States. This market works as both as a leveling force and as a condenser of new forms of social difference. The U.S. banking and credit system has greatly broadened its scope over the past twenty years to incorporate previously excluded groups. We observe this leveling tendency in the expansion of credit amongst lower-income households, the systematization of overdraft protections, and the unexpected and rapid growth of the fringe banking sector. But while access to credit has democratized, it has also differentiated. Scoring technologies classify and price people according to credit risk. This has allowed multiple new distinctions to be made amongst the creditworthy, as scores get attached to different interest rates and loan structures. Scores have also expanded into markets beyond consumer credit, such as insurance, real estate, employment, and elsewhere. The result is a cumulative pattern of advantage and disadvantage with both objectively measured and subjectively experienced aspects. We argue these private classificatory tools are increasingly central to the generation of “market-situations”, and thus an important and overlooked force that structures individual life-chances. In short, classification situations may have become the engine of modern class situations.
About the Speaker
Marion Fourcade received her PhD from Harvard University (2000) and taught at New York University and Princeton University before joining the Berkeley sociology department in 2003. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she is interested in variations in economic and political knowledge and practice across nations. Her first book, Economists and Societies (Princeton University Press 2009), explored the distinctive character of the discipline and profession of economics in three countries. She is now working on a second book, tentatively called Measure for Measure: Social Ontologies of Classification, which examines the cultural and institutional logic of what we may call “national classificatory styles” across a range of empirical domains. Current studies for this book include environmental valuation, the digitization of books and the classification of wines in France and the United States. Other ongoing research focuses on the role of the credit market in social stratification (with Kieran Healy); the comparative study of political organization (with Evan Schofer and Brian Lande); the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); and the role of business schools in the neoliberal turn (with Rakesh Khurana).
Please enjoy our CSES Lecture Series event on February 6th, 2014 at Cornell University at the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Gerald (Jerry) Davis presented his research “The Coming Collapse of the American Corporation (and What Comes Next)?”
Shareholder-owned corporations were the central pillars of the US economy in the twentieth century. Due to the success of the shareholder value movement and the widespread “Nikefication” of production, however, public corporations have become less concentrated, less integrated, less interconnected at the top, shorter-lived, and less prevalent since the turn of the twenty-first century, and there is reason to expect that their significance will continue to dwindle. We are left with both pathologies (heightened inequality, lower mobility, and a fragmented social safety net) and new technologies suitable for being re-purposed in more democratic forms. Local solutions for producing, distributing, and sharing can provide functional alternatives to corporations for both production and employment; what is needed is the social organization to match the tools that we already have, or will have shortly. The time for democratic local economic forms prophesied by generations of activists may finally be at hand.
About the Speaker
Jerry Davis is the Wilbur K. Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management at the Ross School of Business and Professor of Sociology, The University of Michigan. Davis received his PhD from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Recent books include Social Movements and Organization Theory (with Doug McAdam, W. Richard Scott, and Mayer N. Zald; Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open System Perspectives (with W. Richard Scott; Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007). Davis has published widely in management, sociology, and finance. He is currently Editor of Administrative Science Quarterly and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Committee on Organization Studies (ICOS) at Michigan. Davis’ research is broadly concerned with corporate governance and the effects of finance on society. Recent writings examine how ideas about corporate social responsibility have evolved to meet changes in the structures and geographic footprint of multinational corporations; whether “shareholder capitalism” is still a viable model for economic development; how income inequality in an economy is related to corporate size and structure; why theories about organizations do (or do not) progress; how architecture shapes social networks and innovation in organizations; why stock markets spread to some countries and not others; and whether there exist viable organizational alternatives to shareholder-owned corporations in the United States. His latest book Managed By the Markets: How Finance Reshaped America (Oxford University Press, 2009) examines how finance replaced manufacturing at the center of the American economy, and what the consequences have been for corporations, banking, states, and households in the 21st century. In 2010 it was awarded the Academy of Management’s George R. Terry Book Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Management Knowledge.
We are pleased to present our CSES Lecture Series on October 31st, 2013 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the Physical Sciences Building 401. Howard Aldrich presented his research “Everyone an Entrepreneur? Recognizing the Gap between the Veneration of Entrepreneurship and the Reality of Its Costs.”
Entrepreneurship enjoys widespread appeal in nearly all capitalist nations, but start-up success has proved elusive for most entrepreneurs. In a paper published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal in 2012, Tiantian Yang and I explained the low likelihood of entrepreneurial success by focusing on the contrast between organizational forms in terms of cultural codes that tap into widely held perceptions versus organizational forms in terms of blueprints that sustain effective guidance for organizational activities. In our Journal of Business Venturing article on estimating the liability of newness, also published in 2012, Yang and I argued that most studies of nascent entrepreneurs actually understate the magnitude of the problem facing newly organized ventures. The dilemma facing nascent entrepreneurs during their life course is the incomplete and fragmentary nature of these opportunities for learning about start-up practices. I conclude by offering suggestions, based on paper published in the Journal of Evolutionary Economics this year, for further research to discover what entrepreneurs actually do during the start-up.
Howard Aldrich is Professor & Department Chair, Sociology, and Adjunct Professor of Management in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Aldrich research focuses on entrepreneurship, the origins of new organizational populations, gender differences in business management and organizational evolution. Among his research projects is a study of the process by which entrepreneurial teams are founded, and it focuses on similarity and differences between team members. He also is examining the contributions made by voluntary association membership to entrepreneurial success, as well as how to design courses and classroom activities to promote active learning. Dr. Aldrich won the Carlyle Sitterson Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2002. In 2000, the Swedish Foundation of Small Business Research named him the Entrepreneurship Researcher of the Year and the Organization and Management Division of the Academy of Management presented him with a Distinguished Career of Scholarly Achievement award. His book, “Organizations Evolving”, won the Academy of Management George Terry Award as the best management book published in 1998-99, and was co-winner of the Max Weber Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Organizations, Occupations and Work.
Please enjoy our first 2013-2014 CSES Lecture Series event that took place on September 26th, 2013 at Cornell University in Goldwin Smith Hall. Professor Martin Ruef presented his research “Between Slavery and Capitalism: The Legacy of Emancipation in the American South.”
In the U.S. South, a free labor market rapidly—although, in some cases, only nominally— replaced the plantation system of slave labor in the years following the American Civil War. Drawing on data comprising 75,099 transactions in the antebellum period, as well as 1,378 labor contracts in the postbellum era, I examine how the valuation of black labor was transformed between the 1830s and the years of emancipation. I trace the process of valuation through four markets for labor, moving from slave purchases and appraisals within the plantation economy, to the antebellum system of hiring out, to wage-setting for black labor under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Comparative analysis of labor pricing across these markets reveals systematic differences: slave markets placed price premiums on children and young women, and occupational skills emerged as the most salient influence in the pricing of wage labor. I conclude by theorizing how transvaluation of labor occurs when markets for unfree and free workers are governed by distinct institutional conditions.
Martin Ruef’s research considers the social context of entrepreneurship from both a contemporary and historical perspective. He draws on large-scale surveys of entrepreneurs in the United States to explore processes of team formation, innovation, exchange, and boundary maintenance in nascent business startups. Ruef’s historical analyses address entrepreneurial activity and constraint during periods of profound institutional change. This work has considered a diverse range of sectors, including the organizational transformation of Southern agriculture and industry after the Civil War, the transition of the U.S. healthcare system from professional monopoly to managed care, and the character of entrepreneurship during the Industrial Revolution.
In this CSES Lecture Series Paul Ingram, Columbia Business School, considers the influences on entering into ‘dirty business’ or economic activity that violates cultural values. He considers individual disposition to violate norms as a function of status, social contagion in a network, where status determines influence, and the role of a social movement to ignite attention to the norms and their violation. Paul analyzes who entered the Liverpool slave trade. He finds that high status Gentlemen were more likely to do so, and that they were highly influential on the behavior of their network partners. The abolition movement affected an increase in the magnitude of social influence, and shifted the balance of influence in favor of non-slavers.
Jack Goldstone presented his research on “Cultural and Technical Innovation: The Twin Foundations of Economic Growth” on February 28th, 2013 as part of the CSES Lecture Series.
James Robinson, Harvard University, discussed his recent book Why Nations Fail on September 28, 2012 as part of the 2012-13 CSES Lecture Series. In this lecture, Prof. Robinson answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine? Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence? Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or the lack of it).