Theories of Capitalism & Postcapitalism was a postgraduate unit designed and delivered at the School of Sociology, Politics & International Studies, University of Bristol in the 2016-2017 academic year, in ten two-hour seminars. Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive: ‘one of the most intellectually stimulating classes I’ve ever done’; ‘inspiring…changed how I think about the world around me.’ As I revise the course materials for a forthcoming book, I’m sharing the course content here, including slides, discussion questions and reading lists, so that other people might be able to get something from it.
• Explain how critical approaches to capitalism differ from traditional and mainstream approaches, and show why they are relevant to the study of capitalism and its future.
• Demonstrate how theoretical approaches to capitalist economic and social categories can be applied to concrete areas of significant contemporary concern so as to further our understanding of the processes, relations and tendencies that underlie them.
• Develop your skills in writing and thinking critically about theoretical and empirical debates in sociology, social theory and the study of social issues and problems.
On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the relationship between the critique of political economy and critical social theory, and their difference from mainstream traditional understandings of capitalist society.
2. Demonstrate the ability to critically compare, contrast and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different critical positions about capitalism and the future of capitalism.
3. Demonstrate the ability to apply concepts and approaches from the traditions of the critique of political economy and critical theory to contemporary economic and social issues, including: unemployment and technological change; financialisation, alternative currencies and the basic income; gender, care and social reproduction; and the international division of labour.
1. Horkheimer, M., 1976. Traditional and Critical Theory. In Connerton, P. (ed.), 1976. Critical Sociology. London: Penguin, pp. 206-224.
2. Bonefeld, W., 2014. Chapter 1: Critical theory and the critique of political economy. In Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy: On Subversion and Negative Reason. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 1-17.
3. Heinrich, M., 2012. Chapter 1: Capitalism and Marxism and Chapter 2: The Object of Critique in the Critique of Political Economy. In An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital. New York: Monthly Review Press, pp. 13-20 & pp. 29-38.
4. Adorno, T., 1976. Sociology and Empirical Research. In Connerton, P. (ed.), 1976. Critical Sociology. London: Penguin, pp. 237-257
1. Marcuse, H., 2002 Introduction to the First Edition: The paralysis of criticism: society without opposition. in One Dimensional Man, Oxford: Routledge. pp. xxxviv-xlviii
2. Elbe, I., 2013. Between Marx, Marxism, and Marxisms – Ways of Reading Marx’s Theory. Viewpoint Magazine. 21st October 2013. https://viewpointmag.com/2013/10/21/between-marx-marxism-and-marxisms-ways-of-reading-marxs-theory/
3. Bonefeld, W., 2013. Antagonism and Negative Critique. Viewpoint Magazine. 15th September 2013. https://viewpointmag.com/2013/09/15/antagonism-and-negative-critique-an-interview/
1. Endnotes, 2010. Communisation and value-form theory. Endnotes #2: misery and the value-form. Available from: https://endnotes.org.uk/issues/2/en/endnotes-communisation-and-value-form-theory
2. Heinrich, M., 2007. Invaders from Marx: On the Uses of Marxian Theory, and the Difficulties of a Contemporary Reading. Left Curve 31. Available at http://www.oekonomiekritik.de/205Invaders.htm
3. Elson, D., 2015. The Value Theory of Labour. In Value: The Representation of Labour in Capitalism. London: Verso. pp. 115-180.
1. Aufheben, 2017. The rise of conspiracy theories: Reification of defeat as the basis of explanation. Aufheben #24, pp. 12-28
2. Bonefeld, W., 2014. Chapter 9: Anti-capitalism and the elements of antisemitism: On theology and real abstractions. In Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy: On Subversion and Negative Reason. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 195-218.
3. Heinrich, M., 2012. ‘Excursus on antisemitism’ in Chapter 10: The Fetishism of Social Relations in Bourgeois Society. In An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital. New York: Monthly Review Press, pp. 185-191
4. Adorno, T. W., and Horkheimer, M., 1972. Elements of Anti-Semitism: Limits of Enlightenment. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Trans. J. Cumming. London: Verso, pp. 168-208.
1. Bonefeld, W., 2016b. Bringing critical theory back in at a time of misery: three beginnings without conclusion. Capital & Class, 40(2), pp.233-244.
2. Postone, M., 2006. History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism. Public Culture. 18(1), pp. 93-110.
3. Abromeit, J., 2016. Critical Theory and the Persistence of Right-Wing Populism. Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture. 15(2-3) http://logosjournal.com/2016/abromeit/
4. Buruma, I., Where anti-capitalism and anti-semitism intersect. Times Literary Supplement. 6th July 2016. Available online at http://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/upping-the-antis/
1. Postone, M., 2010. Zionism, anti-semitism and the left. Solidarity 3/166, 4th February 2010. Available online at: http://www.krisis.org/2010/zionism-anti-semitism-and-the-left/
2. Schlembach, R., 2016. Chapter 5: Moishe Postone- Against the Standpoint of Old Europe. Against Old Europe: Critical Theory and Alter-Globalization Movements. London: Routledge, pp. 71-94.
3. Bonefeld, W., 2014. Antisemitism and the Power of Abstraction: From Political Economy to Critical Theory. Antisemitism and the Constitution of Sociology. ed. M. Stoetzler. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 314-332.
1. Critisticuffs 2014.A Companion to David Harvey’s Companion to Marx’ Capital, Chapter 1[online], Available: https://critisticuffs.org/texts/david-harvey/
2. Marx, K., 1990. The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret. Capital. Vol. I. trans. by B. Fowkes. London : Penguin, pp. 163-177.
3. Aufheben, 2017. Brexit means…what? Hapless ideology and practical consequences. Aufheben #24 2017, pp. 1-11 [Available at: https://libcom.org/library/brexit-means%E2%80%A6-what-hapless-ideology-practical-consequences]
4. Bonefeld, W., 2014. Chapter 2: Political economy and social constitution: On the meaning of critique AND Chapter 3: Society as subject and society as object: On social praxis. In Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy: On Subversion and Negative Reason. London: Bloomsbury, 21-52 & 53-75
1. Bellofiore, R., and Riva, T.R., 2015. The Neue Marx-Lekture: Putting the critique of political economy back into the critique of society. Radical Philosophy 189 Jan-Feb, pp.24-36.
2. Pitts, F.H., 2015. The critique of political economy as a critical social theory. Capital & Class 39(3), pp.537-544.
3. Holloway, J., 2002b. Change the World Without Taking Power. London: Pluto Press and Holloway, J., 2010. Crack Capitalism. London: Pluto Press.
4. Tischler S., 2005. Time of Reification and Time of Insubordination. Some Notes. In: W. Bonefeld and K. Psychopedis, eds. Human Dignity: Social Autonomy and the Critique of Capitalism. Aldershot: Ashgate. 131-143.
1. Bonefeld, W., 2016a. Negative Dialectics and the Critique of Economic Objectivity. History of the Human Sciences, 29(2), pp.60-76.
2. Bonefeld, W. 1994. Human Practice and Perversion: Between Autonomy and Structure. Common Sense, 15, pp.43-52. http://commonsensejournal.org.uk/issue-15/
3. Holloway, J., 2002a. Going in the Wrong Direction; Or, Mephistopheles – Not Saint Francis of Assisi Historical Materialism, 10(1), pp.79–91.
4. Arthur, C., 2013. The Practical Truth of Abstract Labour. In: R. Bellofiore, G. Starosta, and P. Thomas, eds. In Marx’s Laboratory: Critical Interpretations of the Grundrisse, Leiden: Brill, pp.101-120.
1. Bonefeld, W., 2014. Chapter 4: Capital and labour: Primitive accumulation and the force of value AND Chapter 5: Class and struggle: On the false society. Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 79-100 & 101-120
2. Toscano, A. and Woodcock, J., 2015. Spectres of Marxism: a comment on Mike Savage’s market model of class difference. The Sociological Review, 63, pp. 512–523
3. Critisticuffs, 2016. We Don’t Share Anything. Occupied Times. 3rd April 2016. [Available online at: https://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=14219]
4. BBC Great British Class Survey site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/labuk/experiments/the-great-british-class-survey
1. Marx, K., 1976/1990. Chapter 4: The General Formula for Capital AND Marx, Chapter 24 Part 3 Division of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue. The Abstinence Theory. Capital Vol. I. trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, pp. 247-257 & pp. 738-746.
2. Tamas, G. M., 2009. Telling the Truth About Class. Socialist Register. 42. pp. 228-268
3. Adorno, T. W., 1942. Reflections on Class Theory. Available online at: http://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/readings/adorno_classtheory1942.pdf
4. Gunn, R., 1987. Notes on Class. Common Sense, No. 2. Available online at: https://libcom.org/files/notes%20on%20class.pdf
1. Holloway, J., 2014. Read Capital: The First Sentence, Or Capital starts with Wealth, not with the Commodity. Grundrisse: Zeitschrift fur linke theorie und debate. [Available online at http://www.grundrisse.net/english-articles/Read_Capital_The_First_Sentence.htm#_ftn1]
2. Graeber, D., 2012. Chapter 1: On the Experience of Moral Confusion. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. New York: Random House, pp. 1-19.
3. Stutzle, I., 2012. Debt and punishment: A critical review of David Graeber’s Debt. analyse & kritik, 18th May 2012. [Available online at: http://communism.blogsport.eu/2012/06/12/debt-and-punishment-a-critical-review-of-david-graebers-debt/]
4. Clarke, S., 1978. Capital, Fractions of Capital and the State: ‘Neo-Marxist’ Analysis of the South African State. Capital and Class 2(2), Available online at: https://files.warwick.ac.uk/simonclarke/files/pubs/Fractions.pdf
1. Fraser, N., 2014. Behind Marx’s Hidden Abode. New Left Review 86, pp. 55-72
2. Caffentzis, G., 2002. On the Notion of a Crisis of Social Reproduction: A Theoretical Review. The Commoner No. 5, pp. 1-22. (Also in In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Brooklyn: Common Notions, 2013. pp. 252-272) Available online: http://www.commoner.org.uk/caffentzis05.pdf
3. Federici, S., 2012. The Reproduction of Labor Power in the Global Economy and the Unfinished Feminist Revolution (2008) AND On Elder Care Work and the Limits of Marxism (2009). Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle. Brooklyn: Common Notions, pp. 91-111 & pp. 115-125. Both readings available in The Commoner No. 15 Winter 2012, special issue on ‘Care Work and The Commons’: http://www.commoner.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/08-federici.pdf and http://www.commoner.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/10-federici.pdf
4. Bhattacharya, T., 2015. How Not To Skip Class: Social Reproduction of Labor and the Global Working Class. Viewpoint Magazine. Issue 5: Social Reproduction. [Available online at: https://viewpointmag.com/2015/10/31/how-not-to-skip-class-social-reproduction-of-labor-and-the-global-working-class/]
1. Fraser, N., 2016. Contradictions of Capital and Care. New Left Review 100. July-August 2016, pp. 99-117. https://newleftreview.org/II/100/nancy-fraser-contradictions-of-capital-and-care
2. Leonard, S., and Fraser, N., 2016. Capitalism’s Crisis of Care. Dissent Magazine Fall 2016. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/nancy-fraser-interview-capitalism-crisis-of-care
3. Ferguson, S., and McNally, D., 2015. Social Reproduction Beyond Intersectionality: An Interview. Viewpoint Magazine. Issue 5: Social Reproduction. [Available online at: https://viewpointmag.com/2015/10/31/social-reproduction-beyond-intersectionality-an-interview-with-sue-ferguson-and-david-mcnally/]
4. Weeks, K., and Curcio, A., 2015. Social Reproduction, Neoliberal Crisis, and the Problem with Work. Viewpoint Magazine. Issue 5: Social Reproduction. [Available online at: https://viewpointmag.com/2015/10/31/social-reproduction-neoliberal-crisis-and-the-problem-with-work-a-conversation-with-kathi-weeks/]
1. Marx, K., 1990/1976. Chapter 23: Simple Reproduction AND Chapter 26: Primitive Accumulation. Capital. Vol. I, trans. B. Fowkes. London: Penguin. pp. 711-724 & pp. 873-876.
2. Dalla Costa, M., 1995. Capitalism and Reproduction’ in Bonefeld, W. Gunn, R., J. Holloway and K. Psychopedis (eds.) Open Marxism Vol. III, Pluto Press: London, pp. 7-16
3. Dalla Costa, M., 2015. Family, welfare and the state. Between progressivism and the New Deal. Brooklyn: Common Notions.
4. Brown, G., Dowling, E., Harvie, D., Milburn, K., 2012. Careless Talk: Social Reproduction and Fault Lines of the Crisis in the United Kingdom. Social Justice Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 78-98.
1. Marx, K., 1973/1993. Grundrisse. London: Penguin, pp. 704-711
2. Mason, P., 2015. Chapter 5: Prophets of Postcapitalism. In Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. London: Allen Lane, pp. 133-145.
3. Hardt, M., and Negri, A., 2001. Chapter 3.4: Postmodernization, Or The Informatization of Production, Chapter 4.1: Virtualities. Empire. Harvard University Press (pp. 280-303, pp. 353-369)
4. Lazzarato M., 1996. Immaterial Labor. In: P. Virno and M. Hardt, eds. Radical Thought in Italy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp.133-150.
1. Caffentzis, G., 2005. Immeasurable Value? An Essay on Marx’s Legacy. The Commoner #10, p. 87-114 http://www.commoner.org.uk/10caffentzis.pdf
2. Caffentzis, G., 2013. ‘A Critique of “Cognitive Capitalism”’. In In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and Value, Oakland: PM Press, 2013, pp. 95-126
3. Heinrich, M., 2013. The “Fragment on Machines”: A Marxian Misconception in the Grundrisse and its Overcoming in Capital. In Bellofiore, R., G. Starosta and P. Thomas (eds.) In Marx’s Laboratory: Critical Interpretations of the Grundrisse. Leiden: Brill, pp. 197-212
4. Pitts, F. H., 2016. Beyond the Fragment: The Postoperaist Reception of Marx’s Fragment on Machines and its Relevance Today. School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies Working Paper Series, 2016-02. University of Bristol. Available online at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/spais/documents/Working%20Paper%2002_16_FHP.pdf
1. Noys, B., 2012. Introduction, Chapter 4: Immeasurable Life and Conclusion. In The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-22, pp. 106-133 & pp. 162-175)
2. Doogan, K., 2009. Introduction and Chapter 1: From Post-Industrial Society to New Capitalism: The Evolution of a Narrative of Social Change. New Capitalism? Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 1-15 & pp. 16-42.
3. Pitts, F. H., 2015. Review of Paul Mason, Postcapitalism. Marx and Philosophy Review of Books. 4th September 2015. http://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2015/2008
4. Virno, P., 2001. General Intellect. In Zanini and Fadini (eds) Lessico Postfordista. Milan: Feltrinelli. Available online at http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpvirno10.htm
1. Mason, P., 2015. Chapter 6: Towards the Free Machine. Postcapitalism. London: Allen Lane, pp. 164-176.
2. Srnicek, N., and Williams, A., 2015. Chapter 6: The Future Isn’t Working AND Chapter 7: Post-Work Imaginaries. Inventing the Future. London: Verso, pp. 85-106 & pp. 107-129
3. Weeks, K., 2011. Introduction: The Problem with Work. The Problem With Work. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 1-36.
4. Caffentzis, G., 1999. The End of Work or the Renaissance of Slavery? A Critique of Rifkin and Negri. Common Sense 24, 1999, pp. 20-38. (Also in In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and Value, Oakland: PM Press, 2013, pp. 66-81.) Available online: http://commonsensejournal.org.uk/files/2010/08/CommonSense24.pdf
1. Adorno, T. W., 2003a. Reflections on Class Theory’. In Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, ed. R. Tiedemann, trans. R. Livingstone. Stanford University Press. pp.93-110 and Adorno, T. W., 2003b. Late Capitalism or Industrial Society? The Fundamental Question of the Present Structure of Society. In Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, ed. R. Tiedemann, trans. R. Livingstone. Stanford University Press. pp. 111-125
2. Virno, P., 1996. “The Ambivalence of Disenchantment”. trans. M. Turtis, in Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, ed. by P. Virno and M. Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 13-36 and Virno, P., 2001. “General Intellect” [online], trans. by Arianna Bove, available at www.generation-online.org/p/fpvirno10.htm [accessed 1st January 2012]
3. Heinrich, M.. 2013a. Crisis Theory, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall, and Marx’s Studies in the 1870s. Monthly Review, April 2013, 15-32. See also Chapter 7 in Heinrich, M., 2012. An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital. New York: Monthly Review Press.
4. Clarke, Simon. 1989. The Marxist Theory of Overaccumulation and Crisis, presentation given at Conference of Socialist Economists 1989: Value Crisis and the State Stream. Available online at: https://homepages.warwick.ac.uk/~syrbe/pubs/CSECONF1989.pdf and Clarke, Simon. 1992. The Global Accumulation of Capital and the Periodisation of the Capitalist State Form. Open Marxism Volume I: Dialectics and History, eds. W. Bonefeld, R. Gunn and K. Psychopedis, 133-150. London: Pluto Press.
1. Williams, A., and Srnicek, N., 2013. #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics. Critical Legal Thinking. 14th May. http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/05/14/accelerate-manifesto-for-an-accelerationist-politics/
2. Doogan, 2009. Chapter 2: Technological Change: Autonomization and Dematerialization. New Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. 43-62
3. Mackay, R., and Avanessian, A., 2015. Introduction. #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader. Falmouth: Urbanomic, pp. 1-50. Available online at: https://www.urbanomic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Accelerate-Introduction.pdf
4. Dinerstein, A.C., Taylor, G., and Pitts. F.H., 2016. A post-work economy of robots and machines is a bad utopia for the left. The Conversation. 23rd May 2016. https://theconversation.com/a-post-work-economy-of-robots-and-machines-is-a-bad-utopia-for-the-left-59134
1. Denning, M., 2010. Wageless Life, New Left Review. Nov-Dec 2010, pp. 79-97 https://newleftreview.org/II/66/michael-denning-wageless-life
2. Mason, P., 2015. Chapter 10: Project Zero. Postcapitalism. London: Allen Lane, pp. 280-289
3. Weeks, K., 2011. Chapter 3: Working Demands: From Wages for Housework to Basic Income. The Problem With Work. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 113-150.
4. Critisticuffs 2016. What is wrong with free money? Kittens #5, October 2016, pp. 1-7. Available online at: http://antinational.org/en/what-wrong-free-money
1. Marx, K., 1990/1976. Chapter 6: The Sale and Purchase of Labour-Power. Capital Vol. I. Trans. B. Fowkes. London: Penguin, pp. 270-280.
2. Federici, S., 2012. Introduction AND Wages against Housework (1975). Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle. Brooklyn: Common Notions, pp. 5-22.
3. Twaites, R., Griffiths, B., and Lewis-Morgan, P., 2016. Universal Basic Income: The Great Escape? The Project: A Socialist Journal. 14th August 2016 http://www.socialistproject.org/issues/august-2016/universal-basic-income-great-escape/
4. Cruddas, J., and Kibasi, T., 2016. A universal basic mistake. Prospect. July 2016. http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/a-universal-basic-mistake
1. Marx, K., 1990/1976. Chapter 15 Part 5: The Struggle Between Worker and Machines. Capital. Vol. I., Trans. B. Fowkes. London: Penguin, pp. 553-564) AND Polanyi, K., 2001. Chapter 7: Speenhamland, 1795 Polanyi AND Chapter 8: Antecedents and Consequences. The Great Transformation. Boston: Beacon Press., pp. 81-89 & pp. 91-107)
2. Nieswandt, K., 2016. Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works! The Conversation, 7th October 2016. https://theconversation.com/basic-income-after-automation-thats-not-how-capitalism-works-65023
3. Pitts, F.H., 2016. A Crisis of Measurability? Critiquing Postoperaismo on Labour, Value and the Basic Income. Capital and Class [online], Available from: http://cnc.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/09/21/0309816816665579.full.pdf+html
4. Weeks, K., and Cruz, K., 2016. A feminist case for Basic Income: An interview with Kathi Weeks. Compass. 25th August 2016. https://www.compassonline.org.uk/a-feminist-case-for-basic-income-an-interview-with-kathi-weeks/
1. Lotz, C., 2014. Introduction, Chapter 1: The Capitalist Schema AND Chapter 2: Money. In The Capitalist Schema: Time, Money and the Culture of Abstraction. Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. xiii-xxii, pp. 1-12 & pp. 27-58 (skip pp. 58-67)
2. Kittens, 2014. Bitcoin: Finally Fair Money? Furball #0 [Available online at: https://gegen-kapital-und-nation.org/en/bitcoin-finally-fair-money/]
3. Neary, M., and Taylor, G., 1998. Chapter 4: LETS Abolish Money? Is there a Community Outside the Community of Money? In Money and the Human Condition. London: Macmillan, 91-123
1. Lanchester, J., 2016. When Bitcoin Grows Up. London Review of Books. 21st April 2016, pp. 3-12 http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n08/john-lanchester/when-bitcoin-grows-up
2. Cleaver, H., 2011. Work Refusal and Self-Organisation. In A. Nelson and F. Timmerman, eds. Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies, London: Pluto Press, pp.47-69.
3. Zechner, M., and Hansen, B. R., 2015. Building Power in a Crisis of Social Reproduction. ROAR Magazine, Issue 0: Building Power. https://roarmag.org/magazine/building-power-crisis-social-reproduction/
1. Dinerstein, A. C., 2010. Autonomy in Latin America: between reisstance and integration. Echoes from the Piqueteros experience. Community Development Journal 45(3), pp. 356-66)
2. Dinerstein, A. C., 2013a. From Corporatist to Autonomous: Unemployed Workers Organisations and the remaking of labour subjectivity in Argentina. In Howell, J. (ed), Non Governmental Public Action and Social Justice, Vol. 2. London: Palgrave, pp. 36-59
3. Dinerstein, A. C., 2013b. The Hidden Side of SSE: Social Movements and the Appropriation and “Translation” of SSE into Policy (Latin America). United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
4. Dinerstein, A. C., 2014. The Dream of Dignified Work: On Good and Bad Utopias. Development and Change 45(5), pp. 1037-1058
Review one book from the selection below. The task will assess your ability to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the book as a piece of critical scholarship on contemporary capitalism and/or its future, contextualise it within contemporary debates around critical approaches to capitalist society, and apply this understanding to the concrete subject matter covered in the text. Written feedback will aid you in developing your written use of critical concepts and approaches, and building effective critiques and arguments in dialogue with those of others. This will help your progress towards the summative assessment. Below is the selection of books from which you can choose one to review. They are all either very recent or relatively recent, and all appear in the required reading for various weeks of the unit. Please refrain from reading existing reviews of the books- it will be better for your assignment to approach it from an original and interesting angle.
1. Caffentzis, G., 2013. In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Brooklyn: Common Notions
2. Dalla Costa, M., 2015. Family, welfare and the state. Between progressivism and the New Deal. Brooklyn: Common Notions
3. Dinerstein, A., 2015. The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
4. Dyer-Witheford, N., 2015. Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labour in the Digital Vortex. London: Pluto Press
5. Federici, S., 2012. Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle. Brooklyn: Common Notions
6. Holloway, J., 2010. Crack Capitalism. London: Pluto Press
7. Lotz, C., 2014. The Capitalist Schema: Time, Money and the Culture of Abstraction. Lanham: Lexington Books
8. Mason, P., 2015. Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. London: Penguin
9. Srnicek, N., and Williams, A., 2015. Inventing the Future. London: Verso
10. Weeks, K., 2011. The Problem With Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries. Durham: Duke University Press
Here are some examples of review articles that you can use for inspiration about how to approach book reviewing. Each surveys Bonefeld’s Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy, a core reading for this unit. They each take slightly different perspectives and make useful reading for the unit more generally:
1. Conway, L., 2014. Review: Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy. The Project 4th November. http://www.socialistproject.org/issues/november-2014/review-critical-theory-and-the-critique-of-political-economy/
2. Pitts, F.H., 2015. The critique of political economy as a critical social theory [Review of Bonefeld, Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy]. Capital & Class 39(3), pp.537-544. http://cnc.sagepub.com/content/39/3/537.extract
3. Robinson, J., 2015. Review of Bonefeld, Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy. Marx & Philosophy Review of Books. 22nd January. http://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2015/1481
4. Schulman, J., 2015. On Critical Theory, Value Theory, and So-Called Traditional Marxism [Review of Bonefeld, Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy]. New Politics. 24th June. http://newpol.org/content/critical-theory-value-theory-and-so-called-traditional-marxism
Summative Assessment: Essay (4000 words)
The summative essay asks you to apply one of the theoretical perspectives covered to a concrete substantive issue in contemporary social and economic life cutting across the empirical and theoretical topics discussed over the course of the ten seminars. The questions ware designed so as to test your ability to apply critical theory and the critique of political economy practically to real-world sociological issues. These might include, but are not limited to: the future of work, the threat of automation, the crisis of social reproduction, building concrete alternatives, money, finance, and wealth inequalities, class struggle and new forms of resistance, and gendered/global divisions of labour:
1. ‘Capitalism begins not with the offer of work, but with the imperative to earn a living’ (Denning 2010, p. 80). Critically assess this claim with reference to post-work proposals for a universal basic income and/or the automation of labour.
2. ‘The context of crisis and generalized vulnerability opens onto a myriad of struggles around social rights, resources and survival, all of which put life at their centre. Everyday life, bodily survival, and collective life: the problem of human needs touches most in the crisis’ (Zechner and Hansen 2015, online). Discuss this claim with reference to one or more examples of contemporary political or social practice.
3. ‘What really does it mean to say ‘no’ in a society that is governed by the movement of economic abstractions?’ (Bonefeld 2016, p. 237). Answer this question by critically assessing one or more examples of contemporary political or social thought or practice.
4. ‘Is there a community outside the community of money?’ (Neary and Taylor 1998, p. 91). Answer this question by critically comparing proposals for the universal basic income and/or alternative currencies.
5. To what extent do proposals for ‘postcapitalist’ alternatives address the crisis of social reproduction? Critically discuss with reference to one example from the following: basic income, automation, alternative currencies.
6. ‘In this kind of working existence it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish leisure time from work time. In a sense, life becomes inseparable from work’ (Lazzarato 1996, pp. 137-8). Critically assess this claim with reference to conceptualisations of ‘immaterial labour’ in contemporary capitalism.
7. ‘The individual carries his social power, as well as his bond with society, in his pocket’ (Marx 1993, pp. 156-7). Discuss with reference to proposals for a basic income and/or alternative currencies.
8. To what extent is automation liberating? Critically assess this question with reference to postcapitalist visions of the future.
9. Discuss the strengths and limitations of Mason’s understanding of the basic income as a ‘transitional measure’ for changes in the form of wages and social reproduction.
Peer-reviewed academic journals
Capital & Class http://cnc.sagepub.com/
Historical Materialism http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1569206x
Rethinking Marxism http://rethinkingmarxism.org/
Critical Sociology http://crs.sagepub.com/
Crisis and Critique http://crisiscritique.org/
Work, Employment & Society http://wes.sagepub.com/
Economy & Society http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/reso20/current
Sociological Review http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1467-954X
Theory, Culture & Society http://tcs.sagepub.com/
South Atlantic Quarterly http://saq.dukejournals.org/
Capitalism, Nature, Socialism http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rcns20/current
Periodicals, magazines and other publications
New Left Review https://newleftreview.org/
London Review of Books http://www.lrb.co.uk/
Monthly Review http://monthlyreview.org/
Radical Philosophy https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/
New Politics http://newpol.org/
The Baffler http://thebaffler.com/
Socialist Register http://socialistregister.com/
Common Sense Journal http://commonsensejournal.org.uk/
Marx & Philosophy Review of Books https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks
The Commoner http://www.commoner.org.uk/
Academic and research networks
Conference of Socialist Economists http://www.cseweb.org.uk/
Critical Theories of Antisemitism Network https://criticaltheoriesofantisemitism.net/
International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy http://iippe.org/wp/
Marx & Philosophy Society https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/society
Websites, blogs and groups
Marxists Internet Archive https://www.marxists.org/
Plan C http://www.weareplanc.org/
The Project: A Socialist Journal http://www.socialistproject.org/
Generation Online http://generation-online.org/
Verso Books https://www.versobooks.com/
Pluto Books http://www.plutobooks.com/page.asp?pid=index
Common Notions http://www.commonnotions.org/
Monthly Review Press http://monthlyreview.org/press/
Zero Books http://www.zero-books.net/
Historical Materialism Series http://www.brill.com/publications/historical-materialism-book-series Haymarket Books https://www.haymarketbooks.org/
AK Press https://www.akpress.org/
MayFly Books http://mayflybooks.org/
Minor Compositions http://www.minorcompositions.info/
PM Press http://www.pmpress.org/content/index.php