Political Economy of Modern Capitalism Workshop

In the fall of 2005, Professors Sven Beckert (FAS, Dept. of History) and Christine Desan (HLS) initiated a new graduate student-faculty research seminar on the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism. The workshop aimed to provide a forum for the intensive interdisciplinary study of capitalism with particular attention to it as an historically situated process of regulating social relations. The topic is unparalleled in importance.  As a political economic form, capitalism defines not only market dynamics, but governance structures and social relations. The study of its growth and development therefore attracts scholars from a wide variety of fields, and we believe that their contributions can powerfully stimulate mutual insight.


Program for 2014-2015:

Inequality in the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism 

In 2014-2015, the Workshop on the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism takes "Inequality" as its focus. Inequality, a long-running theme in approaches to capitalism, has exploded into contemporary debate with the publication of Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the 21st Century.  Piketty's argument takes inequality as a distributive issue, building on a long tradition including Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and social welfarist theories.  Inequality may also be a civic concern, one that goes to the quality of political voice,  community engagement, or legal process that people experience rather than the quantity of wealth they can claim.  The Workshop will explore these different attempts to grapple with "inequality," as well as divergent approaches that distinctively conceptualize the problem and its relationship to modern capitalism.

The workshop meets on Monday afternoons at 4:00 PM in Robinson Lower Library. Please join the Program on the Study of Capitalism's email announcement list for the latest updates and information on the Workshop and other events and activities of interest on campus. 


Schedule of Speakers: 

FALL 2014

Sept. 29: "Exceptional. The Astors, the New York Elite, and a Story of American Inequality," Shamus Khan (Sociology, Harvard University); Comments:  Dr. Rashmi (History, University of Hyderabad) and Charles Petersen (American Studies, Harvard); Description of the book project

Oct. 20: "The Quest for Equality and Respect: Dealing with Discrimination and Stigmatization in the United States, Brazil, and Israel," Michele Lamont (Sociology, Harvard University); Faculty Comment: Bryant Etheridge (History, MIT); Student Comment: Shaun Nichols (History, Harvard)

Readings: Michele Lamont, Stefan Beljean, and Matthew Clair, "What is missing? Cultural processes and causal pathways to inequality"; Michele Lamont, Jessica S. Welburn, and Crystal M. Fleming, "Responses to Discrimination and Social Resilience Under Neoliberalism: The United States Compared"; Introduction to her upcoming book

Nov. 17: "From Small Farms to Progressive Plantations: Counterinsurgency, Land Policy, and Inequality in the American Colonial Philippines, 1900-1916," Theresa Ventura (History, Concordia University); Faculty Comment: John Womack (History, Harvard University); Student Comment:  Aaron Bekemeyer (History, Harvard University)

Dec. 1: "Meritocracy and the Crisis of Capitalism," Daniel Markovits (Yale Law School); Faculty Comment: Stephen Shay (Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School); Student Comment: Robert Niles (Harvard Law School)


SPRING 2015


Jan. 26: "The Constitution of Opportunity: Reclaiming Constitutional Political Economy," William Forbath and Joseph Fishkin (University of Texas Law School); Faculty Comment: Vicki Jackson (Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School); Student Comment: Andrew Block (American Studies, Harvard University)


Feb. 9: "Possessive Collectivism: Ownership and the Politics of Credit Access in Late Twentieth-Century America," Greta Krippner (Sociology, University of Michigan); Student Comment: Carly Knight (Sociology, Harvard University)


Mar. 2: "Fiscal Struggles and the Rise of Civic Equality in Old Regime France," William Sewell (History and Political Science, University of Chicago); Faculty Comment: Mary Lewis (History, Harvard University); Student Comment: Manuel Rincon-Cruz (RSEA, Harvard University)


Mar. 23: TBA


Apr. 6: TBA


 

Please join the Program on the Study of Capitalism's announcement email list to receive information about the Workshop and other events and activities at Harvard. 

For more information on upcoming sessions, please check the calendar

Past Syllabi: 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010-2011, 2013-2014

Many student research papers have gone on to be published, a partial list of this research is available here