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.
Please join us for our next 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 will present 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 join us for our next CSES Lecture Series on February 6th, 2014 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Gerald (Jerry) Davis will present 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 repurposed 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.
“A hardhitting economic sociology would attempt to draw on the best of sociology and economics, and to unite interests and social relations in one and the same analysis.”— Richard Swedberg