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LIP: Andrew Sayer presenting on economic discourse as mystification
Date: 18 June 2012 Time: 17.30-18.30
Venue: FASS MR3
LIP EventAndrew Sayer (Sociology, Lancaster University)
'Not what it says on the tin': economic discourse as mystification
In this presentation, I will argue that economic discourse is deeply problematic at the level of apparently simple terms like 'earnings', 'investment', 'enterprise', 'assets', 'value', 'wealth'. These conceal elisions between use-value and exchange-value, and between what people deserve and what they are able to get. As such they mystify the nature of economic activities and relations. These and other economic categories are actually constitutive of capitalist economic practices and involve various kinds and degrees of abstraction from the business of people entering into social relations in order to provision themselves - the basic function of economic activity. Financialization takes the abstraction to new levels. I will attempt to demonstrate these points through examples of both popular and technical economic discourse.
Andrew Sayer is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. His main interests are social theory and political economy, and philosophical issues in social science. In his earlier work in the 1970s and 1980s, he examined the development of radical political economic theory through the study of uneven development, urban and regional change. Starting from the 1990s, he adopted new sources for developing critiques of economic aspects of contemporary society. For example, in his book The Moral Significance of Class (Cambridge University Press, 2005), he investigates, people's experience of class inequalities - how it affects not only people's material wealth and opportunities but how people value one another and themselves -according to class. The critique of the contemporary social and economic system continues to be one line of thought in his current research, which expounds on the relationship between 'moral economy' and 'political economy'. In his recent book, Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life (2011, Cambridge University Press), he examines social science's difficulties in acknowledging and understanding people's evaluative or normative orientation to their social worlds - or in simple terms, why anything matters to them.
For more about Andrew Sayer, please see http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/profiles/16/16/
Who can attend: Anyone
Associated staff: Andrew Sayer
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