Growth, Capitalism and the Progressive State: new contradictions, renewed theories.
The sociological critique of advanced capitalism must be renewed and redeployed. This is forcibly a collective and plural endeavour with many points of entry: from the political sociology of neoliberalism, to the cultural theory financialization, to the reconstruction of theories of class and the economic sociology of really existing markets and firms. It also shakes and questions our great theoretical traditions, by it the paradigm of Modernization, Marxisms, Governmentality and Constructivisms. My proposal would be to examine how a sociology informed by Degrowth can contribute to this renewal
The foundation of “Growthism” and the Progressive State rests on a constantly reenacted separation between formally productive and non-productive social labour, questioning growth implies a critique of this process. Furthermore, the relationship between growth and stagnation in advanced capitalism can be examined by revisiting mid-twentieth century theories of “over-accumulation”. From this perspective advanced capitalism has a constant surplus absorption problem, rather then a surplus production problem. Whether it is on a high growth or low growth trajectory, advanced capitalism's stability rests on the articulation of overproduction to overconsumption through waste of matter, time and labour, and the socialization of subjects culturally adapted to this deep treadmill effect.
Restructuring EU's Statehood in times of Crisis
University of Basel, Switzerland
The hypothesis this paper makes is that European integration is better analyzed as a qualitative transformation of statehood and territory as the product of changing social, legal and political relations. Strategic and relational theories of state have begun to conceive the state differently as a set of social relations which do not need to be neither depending upon a unitary power center nor limited to a defined and uniform territory (Brenner 2004; Jessop 2007). In the relational approach to statehood, restructuring statehood is defined as a set of strategic and power relations embedded into a given social and material context (Brenner 2004; Jessop 1990; Jessop 2007). Up to date, there is no in-depth and complete analysis of EUrope as an integral moment of statehood and space restructuring in the relational sense, that is considering social, legal and political relations as the main factors of statehood.
Given the political crisis that the process of European integration is facing and acceleration in the interdependencies among states within the EU, new and more fitting explanatory frameworks are much needed. The Eurozone crisis that started in 2008 and recent developments of the Greek crisis within it during the summer of 2015 revealed at least three elements that classical theories of EU integration fail to explain: (1) European integration is a highly political and strategic field, within which lines of fracture among governing institutions, be it European, transnational (such as the International Monetary Fund) or national, have emerged in a powerful manner, and this was especially clear during the Greek crisis of 2015 (Biebricher 2013; De Wilde & Zürn 2012; Fawcett & Marsh 2014); (2) The use of Memoranda of Understanding during the Eurozone crisis and in particular during the Greek crisis puts seriously into question both intergovernmental and post-national theories of European integration, since it shows that the limits of statehood are not anymore confined into the national borders. On the other hand, reshaping of statehood (Pullano 2014a) at different scales that takes place during the management of the crisis shows that there is a need to investigate restructuring of state power at the level of the continent, at least (Durand & Keucheyan 2015). Critical theories of the state that underpin the relational approach (Jessop 2007), such as Poulantzas’ concept of “authoritarian statism” (Poulantzas 2000), indicating an intensified state control over socio-economic life in a context of intense political crisis, are useful to explain the present state of EUrope (Bieling & Gallas 2011; Bruff 2012; Sandbeck & E. Schneider 2014). (3) The political and economic crisis of the Eurozone showed also a different map of EUrope, one in which there is a differential positioning of some states and regions with respect to others. Various terms can be used to describe this dynamic: uneven development, regional and state rescaling, territorial restructuring (Agnew 2001; Hadjimichalis 2011; Hudson 2003).
Without reconceptualizing EUrope as a process of statehood and territorial restructuring, which is the aim of the proposed presentation, we will not be able to fully understand these phenomena.
(Un)Making Europe: Anomie in Intelligence and Operational Police and Border Guard Work in the Baltic Sea Area
Linnaeus University / Faculty of Social Sciences, Sweden
Émile Durkheim’s sociological term ‘anomie,’ which indicates normlessness or a state of norm resolution, is the theme of this ethnographic study. The purpose is to analyze how intelligence and operational personnel in the various border authorities in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania describe the category “Russian criminals” and which discursive patterns cooperate with the construction of the category “norm-dissolving Russian.” Multiple forms of empirical material were analyzed in this study: observations and photographs taken during the field work (718 field hours), interviews (73), documents produced by intelligence and operative personnel, and media coverage concerning intelligence and operative actions. This ethnography explains how police and border guards in the Baltic Sea area reinforce in-group bonds, develop a professional identity, and come to understand the moral aims of their work: by contrasting themselves against the constructed threat of Russian criminals, spies, and military invaders. Intelligence and operational police and border guard work is a practice in which the work from the first moment is characterized by an abstract threat, justified by considering that the stability of society can be transformed into instability if crime is not fought. Police officers and border guards in this study are constructed as key figures in the struggle to prevent the resolution and preserve the current state of society, which is portrayed as stable and better – at least if we speak with intelligence and operative police officers and border guards. From time to time, a “criminal” from Russia has a key role in the performance of law enforcement’s fluctuating morality, with the threat of norm resolution coming from Russia and attenuation of the threat based on the representation of effective law enforcement. The media reporting on intelligence and operations, as well as the documentation that was created by the authorities involved in the fight against crime in the Baltic Sea area, call out the “criminals” from Russia by their absence. The media report on syndicates from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania who commit crimes in Sweden and Finland. In documents created by the intelligence and operational personnel, it is reported that more than 700 individuals had been suspected or convicted of a crime in any of the European countries. Most are citizens of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The picture presented in the interviews is different. Actors in this study produce Russians as the leading criminals in the Baltic region. Russian criminals are represented as organizers and leading figures in various types of crime. An informant’s story is constructing a symbolic reality where law-abiding and conventional actors strive to maintain stability in the normative order, in this case referring to the crime that comes from Russia. This reality is partly an expression of fear and solidarity against norm resolution in the form of crime from Russia, and expressions of social development that raise the need for a contra-group to strengthen feelings of solidarity in the norm-stable societies.The identity-based symbolism that informants are constructing in their stories is based on the current and stable normative state of society.
Europe as Continent of Balanced Tensions
Dresden University of Technology, Germany
The lecture will relate today’s debates over the European status and position on a global scale plus the growing resistance against transnational structures in the European Union to different historical imaginations of “Europe”, that have been developed, transferred and in-stitutionalized throughout the continents history, starting with the ancient myth of the abduc-tion of a woman whose name already has been used in the sense of a territorial term in the writings of Ovid. In order to describe some of the most characteristic conflicts influencing the European development, it will focus on the main division lines between concurrent insti-tutions and their specific interlacing-forms. Even though despite all the criticism towards the European Project seem to be inevitable, there is still lack of commonly shared European identities. For a better understanding of the various tensions within European Integration it might be useful to look on the history of Europe and its decisive institutional interdependen-cies.
After the decay of the increasingly just upon fiction based Roman Empire into an Eastern and a Western unit in 395 and the alongside coming segmentation into two separately operat-ing churches (however it not has formally been executed until 1054), there broke out a fight for a new kind of unity in the occident. The Roman Church claims to universality brought it into competition with secular powers that led to significant armed conflicts and compromises between ecclesiastical und secular rulers and their representatives, creating and institutional-izing a peculiar tension between imperium and sacerdotium that has never been conclusively pacified.
This was more kind of a framework definition than an ultimate tension-resolve that grew and catalyzed new supremacy-claims followed by inevitable deconstruction-attempts on both sides: The highest priests where treated with secular honors while worldly rulers have con-versely been sacralized at the same time. A new conflict climax that required even more efficient balancing struck on Middle-Europe with its upcoming Reformation and its transi-tion into confessionalism.
Nevertheless it was not the claims of the church, the operations of warrior elites or the up-coming establishment of national states that efficiently contributed to the later on developed unification-ideas and –perspectives. They have foremost been catalyzed and empowered by a common opposition against the rest of the world, manifesting itself over the martial and mili-tarily executed colonialism. It led to the formation of a continental self-awareness that formed itself around the belief that considers the occident as birthplace and cradle of the modern world: the starting point for the worldwide spreading Work- and Rationality-Processes as they were described by Max Weber.
Those development lines determined the European history of conflict and unification for a long period and shall bring into awareness that a union of differences can indeed result in orders and arrangements, regardless of whether it may be a future as European federal state or – as Charles de Gaulles once said – a “Europe of fatherlands”.