Great Transformations: A Cultural Political Economy of Crisis-Management

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Sociology

Abstract

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Description 1. The notion of variegated capitalism, which was a key theme for exploration in the ESRC professorial fellowship, was elaborated six directions: (1) develop new analytical methods for identifying what is at stake in this concept compared to work on varieties of capitalism and to the notion of a world system; (2) specify criteria for the 'ecological dominance' of varieties of capitalism within the context of the world economy; (3) introduce the concept of the fractal nature of variegated capitalism, such that the ecologically dominant variety may vary at different scales, e.g., neoliberalism in the global economy, neomercantilism in the Eurozone; (4) note the hitherto neglected relevance of Weber's typology of profit orientations, especially three modes of political capitalism, which have a major bearing on the origins and survival of finance-dominated accumulation, despite its crisis-tendencies and loss of legitimacy in the aftermath of the financial crisis that became evident in 2007-2008; (5) develop concepts of financialization and finance-dominated accumulation, based partly on new accounts of fictitious money, fictitious credit, fictitious capital, fictitious profits, and currency pyramids, which is a major innovation in the dialogue between heterodox economics and the sociology of finance; and (6) the relevance of the profit-generating vs. interest-bearing capital distinction to crisis construals and crisis management in the USA, UK, and Europe. Finance-dominated accumulation is closely linked to political capitalism and the North Atlantic Financial Crisis involved control frauds enabled by 'unusual deals with political authority', accumulation through dispossession, and post-democratic 'states of economic emergency'.

Another theme identified in the initial proposal was the importance of scale within the broader field of socio-spatiality. Issues of scale were developed in terms of the fractal scaling of variegated capitalism (i.e., the non-identical 'repetition' of variegation across multiple scales from the local to the global). The Eurozone crisis is related to a variegated EU organized in the shadow of neo-mercantilism; and the North Atlantic Financial Crisis and its contagion effects to a world market organized in the shadow of neo-liberalization. This work has attracted attention from geographers and I submitted an international network funding application on multi-spatial metagovernance to the Leverhulme Foundation in August 2014, working primarily with geographers.

On national states and multi-spatial governance, we explored crisis implications for the reorganization of state architectures (especially in the EU); crises of crisis-management in the Eurozone; the erosion of democratic institutions and accountability (authoritarian neoliberal constitutionalism, debates on post-democracy, and crises of authority) emerged as a major topic, that enabled me to return to earlier work on state theory too, considering the new forms of the exceptional state and the crisis of temporal as well as territorial sovereignty. All of these themes are also discussed in the publications of the PI, his research student, and our collaborators.

Regarding the overall research problem, key new insights concern: (1) learning in, through, and from crisis and its relation to crisis-management; (2) the mediatisation (especially through financial journalism) of crisis and crisis construals and how this makes some interpretations more plausible, e.g., fiscal crisis, austerity policy, and financial policy oversight in the Eurozone (this was the special field of the two research officers, Drs Farelly and Kutter); (3) competing crisis construals and proposals and their implications for Eurozone crisis management in three policy fields (this is the special field of the research student, Heinrich, and his colleagues in Lancaster, Berlin, and Marburg, in collaboration with the PI); and (4) depoliticization in debates on fiscal crisis. Overall, because different forces construed the crisis differently and had unequal abilities to translate such construals thanks to the rise of finance-dominated accumulation and new multi-spatial government/governance structures, crisis dynamics, management, and crises of crisis-management acquire distinctive features and consequences.

The team also developed the CPE approach, theoretically and methodologically. The most significant output here is the major monograph by Sum and Jessop (2013, 569 pp). The first two parts present the most advanced account of the challenges of navigating the treacherous path between a constructivist Charybdis, which focuses one-sidedly on sense- and meaning-making, and a structuralist Scylla, which focuses one-sidedly on structural dynamics, and also presents the grand theoretical propositions and grounded analytics necessary to undertake research in cultural political economy. The next two parts present three case studies by the PI drawn from the ESRC project and four case studies by Dr Ngailing Sum, Co-Director of the Cultural Political Economy Research Centre at Lancaster University. Part I also suggests how institutionalism can be integrated into CPE, identifies the potential for Foucault's analyses of dispositifs (dispositives or apparatuses) and discourse for CPE, and relates CPE to the now well-established tradition of critical discourse analysis.

All of these discoveries and developments are amply illustrated in the 90+ publications that have emerged from the 3-year project and that are listed in the publications list. Inability to label items in the conventional Harvard manner (2010a, 2010b, 2010c ...) in the publications list prevents more precise referencing.
Exploitation Route The cultural political economy approach developed by the PI, his ESRC-funded team, and his collaborators at Lancaster and elsewhere (notably in Germany, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark) has gained significant traction as an emerging interdisciplinary paradigm relevant to financial, economic, and fiscal crises. It is already being used in other research projects, has been introduced in focused doctoral training workshops, and has elicited many invitations to present the approach or specific findings at conferences. In addition, presentations have been made at stakeholders, for example, the Polish National Bank, Bolivian Central Bank, IG Metall Training Centre (Berlin), the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Berlin), the Karl Renner Institute (Vienna), the Red-Green Alliance in the Danish Parliament, the European Left Group (Brussels), Syriza (Greece), the government of the province of Gipuzkoa, Basque Country (Spain), the Podemos Summer School (Madrid), the Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid), and the Diskurs-Net Winter School (Valencia, Spain). The approach provides an original way to combine the analysis of economic imaginaries with a critical understanding of the crisis dynamics, crisis-management, and governance failure and is especially useful for stakeholders and social movements on the margins of power.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.bobjessop.org
 
Description Following an invitation from the Gipuzkoa regional government (Spain) to deliver a plenary lecture in San Sebastian, I learnt that my work on governance failure and metagovernance is used in local and regional government policy formulation and critical self-reflection. The same impact has been reported from Poland, where I continue collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jerzy Hausner, ex Deputy Prime Minister and key figure in promoting ideas about public governance in Poland; I have contributed a substantial introduction (translated into Polish) into the first ever edited collection of materials in Polish on governance, governance failure, and metagovernance; I have also been invited to join a national working group called "Open Eyes", which aims to disseminate these ideas to Polish stakeholders, especially at regional levels.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description COST-EU Action
Amount € 200,000 (EUR)
Funding ID COST Action IS0902 
Organisation European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) 
Department COST Action
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 09/2011 
End 06/2014
 
Description National Research Centre
Amount £7,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2016 
End 02/2019
 
Description Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Studentenwerk
Amount € 45,000 (EUR)
Organisation Rosa Luxemburg Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 09/2011 
End 08/2014
 
Description Senior Research Fellowship
Amount £7,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2016 
End 02/2019
 
Description Crisis, Continuity, Change 
Organisation Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department Department of Public Administration
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Institute of Social Studies in Den Haag (now part of Erasmus University) has previously worked primarily on development issues. It has recently diversified its research interests to include advanced societies and the interactions between crisis in the global North and the global South. As part of this widening research interest, it organized in 2013-2014 a seminar series on crisis, continuity and change (C3). I gave the opening plenary lecture and attended the closing workshop. I also provided commentary and work in progress to the organizing group and assisted in the preparation of a research bid to the NWO (Netherlands Science Organization) for a 3-year research project on the same theme. I am now co-editing a book of contributions to the research project, Crisis, Construals, and Crisis Lessons, with the Erasmus PI, Karim Knio, scheduled for publication in late 2017.
Collaborator Contribution My own work refers mainly to advanced capitalist societies, although I have collaborated with the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development; the expertise in the ISS has enabled me to develop further my reflections on the variegated nature of the world market and the structural coupling of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) economies with those in the North Atlantic region (North America, Europe). The Institute for Social Studies provided accommodation and office space to help prepare two bids for funding and to prepare the co-edited book noted above.
Impact A seminar series and a co-edited book (see above)
Start Year 2013
 
Description Efterkrisen Collaboration 
Organisation Lund University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Pufendorf Institute funds interdisciplinary projects and award Prof Mats Benner a large grant for 3 years' cross-disciplinary research on the origins, course, and consequences of the financial crisis in Sweden, focusing on its aftermath (hence the title, Efterkrisen, i.e., after the crisis). I was an advisor on the project, participated in conferences, provided feedback, contributed talks, and was a contributor to the conference volume. The official title of the project was: After the crisis: a research programme in the political economy of the future.
Collaborator Contribution We shared data, explored approaches (especially corpus linguistics and the role of metaphor in crisis discourse), and developed a shared theoretical approach around the importance of semiosis (sense- and meaning-making) in crisis analyses
Impact Multidisciplinary - Sociology, Economic History, Political Science, Linguistics A publication edited by the PI in Lund included a chapter from Bob Jessop, the PI of the ESRC Project I served on the scientific advisory committee of the Pufendorf Institute in Lund University and continue to advise on research bids and outcomes.
Start Year 2010
 
Description FESSUD 
Organisation European Commission
Country European Union (EU) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution FESSUD is Finance, Economics, Society, and Sustainable Urban Development, a FP 7 project, running since 2012. I was invited to present my work on variegated capitalism because this project concerns varieties of finance and the variegated capitalism approach is critical of most work on varieties of capitalism (including finance). I presented a workshop in Leeds University Business School, a Plenary lecture in the second annual conference, and continue to collaborate informally with the Leeds University Business School team and with participants from SOAS, attending workshops there too.
Collaborator Contribution The FESSUD team is multidisciplinary, though drawn mostly from economists and geographers; their expertise in financial economics, macroeconomics, and the dynamics of financial crises has helped me to define the specific features of finance-dominated accumulation relative to the more general, and better known, phenomenon of financialization.
Impact It has shaped my publications on finance-dominated accumulation and a special issue of the International Journal of Political Economy was published based on conferences that I attended - I did not manage to turn my contribution to the conferences into a journal article because of other prior commitments.
Start Year 2013
 
Description ITEPE 
Organisation Copenhagen Business School
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have a long standing relationship to Copenhagen Business School, including a visiting professorship in the Department of Business and Politics. Professor Poul Fritz Kjaer was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant on the transformation of corporatism for five years from 2012. I have assisted in recruitment and mentoring junior appointments, gave the plenary lecture at the launch of the project, have participated in its conferences, and have published one journal article and one book chapter based on my contributions to the project in ITEPE-related publications. I have also given informal workshops on governance and governance failure in the Department of Business and Politics.
Collaborator Contribution They have provided access to practitioners (businesspeople, officials, and trade unionists) concerned with governance and crisis-management; Prof Kjaer is one of the few international scholars who shares my interests in Luhmannian systems theory, critical political economy, and questions of governance failure, so he has been a valuable source of critical comment on these aspects of my work.
Impact Two publications - one in Distinktion: the Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory (2015) and another in Eva Hartmann and Poul Kjaer, eds, The Evolution of Intermediary Institutions in Europe: From Corporatism to Governance (OUP, 2015).
Start Year 2012
 
Description Linguistic Constructions of Crisis 
Organisation Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Dr Amelie Kutter collaborated with research teams from both universities, as they were developing parallel research on linguistic constructions of crisis in the German press. They exchanged tips on research methods, computational linguistics, and data bases.
Collaborator Contribution Research teams from both universities had extensive discussions at conferences and informally with Dr Kutter, as they were developing parallel research on linguistic constructions of crisis in the German press. They exchanged tips on research methods, computational linguistics, and data bases.
Impact Dr Kutter and the PI attended conferences in Trier; Dr Kutter has published two chapters based on her collaboration, the PI published on chapter. Both publications were edited by the partners in Trier and Duesseldorf
Start Year 2010
 
Description Linguistic Constructions of Crisis 
Organisation University of Trier
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Dr Amelie Kutter collaborated with research teams from both universities, as they were developing parallel research on linguistic constructions of crisis in the German press. They exchanged tips on research methods, computational linguistics, and data bases.
Collaborator Contribution Research teams from both universities had extensive discussions at conferences and informally with Dr Kutter, as they were developing parallel research on linguistic constructions of crisis in the German press. They exchanged tips on research methods, computational linguistics, and data bases.
Impact Dr Kutter and the PI attended conferences in Trier; Dr Kutter has published two chapters based on her collaboration, the PI published on chapter. Both publications were edited by the partners in Trier and Duesseldorf
Start Year 2010
 
Description RosaLux 
Organisation Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I was invited to contribute my expertise to workshops organized by the RLS for activists, party members, employees of the Stiftung, and members of the public, mainly on questions of (1) crisis and crisis dynamics, (2) the green new deal and ecological transformation, and (3) the nature of the commons as a basis for ecological transformation. I also gave one Rosa Luxemburg lecture for a general audience in the Green Salon in the Berlin Theatre based on my research into crisis and crisis dynamics.
Collaborator Contribution Most of my work has been philosophical, meta-theoretical, or theoretical. Working with the RLS, a German government funded research and public education organization (funded because of its relevance to the public interest) took me out of my comfort zone and obliged me to explain the policy relevance of my research. This lead to participation in a collaborative project with others affiliated to the RLS and a publication on Futuring that presented work related to future socio-ecological transformation.
Impact A seminar series with wide public participation; meetings with MEPs and MPs as well as practitioners in communal and cooperative innovation; invitations to teach at the European Left Summer Schools in Greece in 2012 and 2013; and to provide public lectures in Denmark as well. I contributed one chapter to a book published by the RLS on socio-ecological transformation.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Bolivian Vice-Presidency 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to give the plenary lecture (on the state and governance) at a 3-day conference convened to discuss the reform of the Bolivian plurinational constitution. The Vice-President also has interests in the state and, in addition to extensive debate in a televised plenary, there were many opportunities for informal discussion outside the conference. The impact was primarily in terms of extending the analysis of the state and state power to include questions of governance, governance failure, metagovernance, and crisis-management. These were all themes of my ESRC research. I also met scholars and researchers addressing the specific features of crisis dynamics in Latin America.

Interest in my approach was stimulated by the free distribution of 500+ copies of a book on the state and governance that was compiled by the Vice-Presidency from my previous Spanish publications: El Estado como relacion social (2012). This generated further rounds of e-mail communication. This book is not listed as an output of the ESRC project because its chapters predate the project - but it was instrumental in publicizing the approach and cultural political economy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Crisis Seminar Series 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation ran fortnightly seminars in Berlin from October 2012 to June 2014 for its 'stipendiats' (funded research students), other people affiliated to the RLF (including activists, local union leaders, and party members); it funded its own students to travel from elsewhere in Germany and other groups also paid for some of their supporters to attend, others participated at their own expense. Mathis Heinrich helped to organize the sessions (they were in German) and, as PI, Bob Jessop participated in a fifth of the seminars, presenting his own work and thoughts. The sessions lasted 1h45m each and there was lively discussion in the last hour.

There was an increase in understanding of crisis dynamics in the Eurozone crisis and, especially, a better understanding of Germany's contribution to the crisis - leading to diminished hostility to citizens of Southern European countries being supported by the European Central Bank.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
 
Description Polish National Bank 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an invited lecture to the economic and financial research team of the Polish National Bank. I was invited as a contrarian thinker to provide a counterpoint to the mainstream neoliberal views in Poland on the crisis and crisis-management. There was lively discussion about the merits of a heterodox approach and it became clear that there were marked generational differences among the researchers and policy-makers depending on whether they received their economics education before or after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. This proved quite catalytic for all-concerned.

The impact has, I am informed by a member of the monetary policy committee, been to enliven debates and extend reflections on options - but not to change the dominant strategic and economic line of the Polish central bank.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Presentation, interview, dialogue with researchers and activists of Iratzar Foundation, San Sebastian/Danostia, Spain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Invitation to a 2.5 hour session comprising formal Q&A, discussion groups, and informal Q&A with researchers, affiliates, union activists, and other members of civil society organizations concerning three topics: (1) current economic and political conjuncture in Europe; (2) scope for regional autonomy and civil society engagement in the European Union; and (3) the scope for new forms of governance based on networks and solidarity rather than market exchange and hierarchical command. The Iratzar Foundation is the research arm of a left Basque nationalist party and social movement. The organizers reported increased interest in the tension, which their members experienced, between civil society as a mode of self-responsibilization and self-emancipation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public lecture at Summer School organized by Provincial government in Basque Country 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Provincial goverment of Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, organizes an annual summer school for officials, mature students, and professional practitioners on current political topics. The ruling party uses my ideas on metagovernance and metagovernance failure in its policy planning and I was invited to give a public lecture and take part in a round table on metagovernance. The talk stimulated much discussion, led to an interview translated into Basque and Spanish, an invitation to the Mondragon cooperative university to discuss solidarity with key practitioners, and, two years later, to a return visit to Danostia/San Sebastian to discuss civil society as a mode of governance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description UNRISD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was twice invited to discuss crisis, including ecological crisis and the Green New Deal. There was lively discussion and extracts from my lectures were included in a video prepared by UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute in Social Development) on the Green New Deal and ecological transformation. Two publications in UNRISD-sponsored publications also resulted.

I received many e-mail comments, some quite hostile, some supportive, about my views on ecological imaginaries and ecological transformation; as a result the profile of my work in this area has increased.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011