Does capitalism equal free market plus democracy: a contemporary discourse – Europe and Latvia
University of Latvia, Latvia
M. Weber’s ideas of the development of capitalism are in agreement with K. Marx's description of capitalism. As technologies evolved, the model of economic relationships changed the foundation of social life, which can be seen more than ever nowadays, in the modern era of information technologies, from critics who refer to capitalism as “satanic mills”, to “limited democracy”.
According to G. Zimmel’s description of capitalism, and similar to A. Smith main work on the fundamental principles of a free market society, increasingly a framework of the new era goes missing, in which the moral issues have a crucial role.
In the postcommunist countries, modern capitalism was understood as the union of the free market and liberal democracy. Latvia was one of the first EU countries which was hit hard by the global recession, and the first to implement austerity policies. This triggered migration to economically more advanced countries in Europe. The “drainage” of the labour force out of the new EU member states and the impunity of media, undermined the authority of liberal democracy.
Do we live in an era in which capitalism has lost its energy following the second world war and the prevalence of the counterculture in the 1960’s?
Does global capitalism’s increase in power transform liberal democracy?
This report includes interviews with policy experts in Latvia and a representative of the European Court of Justice to highlight discussions on issues of how to understand modern capitalism.
How to construct a cultural sociology of Brexit in three not so easy steps
University of Exeter, United Kingdom
Being a cultural sociologist in the UK today is not much fun. In line with the wider liberal intelligentsia, the cultural sociologist is likely to have voted for the UK to remain in Europe, and the triumph of the Leave campaign seems deeply traumatizing. It is difficult for cultural sociologists to examine the nature and consequences of Brexit in a neutral and distanced fashion, and the time spent on doing cultural sociology might better be spent in punching Brexiteers in the face. However, cultural sociology must seek to advance through adversity and black comedy.
This paper proposes how to create a satisfying cultural sociology of Brexit, which combines analytical rigour with measured political fury, while retaining a cosmopolitan perspective in the midst of the horror – just as Durkheim himself sought to do during WWI. Accordingly inspired, the paper proposes three necessary moves in building a cultural sociology of Brexit.
First, an analysis of the right-wing media framings which successfully defined Brexit as essentially an issue of alleged uncontrollable immigration, and the failure of liberal and left counter-narratives, including the failure to construct as a martyr of Brexit the murdered MP Jo Cox. Second, conceptualization of Brexit as a massive ‘de-cosmopolitizing’ spurt, of the kind familiar to Elias and Beck, together with the recognition of more hidden dynamics of re-cosmopolitization and the generation of new cosmopolitanisms, including the paradoxical Scottish nationalist variety. Third, the unpicking of the nature of the cultural trauma being experienced by the defeated Remain side in the referendum and by EU citizens who face radical uncertainty in an increasingly neoliberal/neo-fascist UK. Various cheerful points are made about these matters.
Fashion cosmopolitanism and the de-cosmopolitization of European realities
University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
According to thinkers as diverse as Gabriel Tarde and Ferdinand Tönnies, fashion is an essentially cosmopolitan phenomenon, directing one’s pride beyond one’s nation. For centuries, fashion systems have been highly cosmopolitan, while also reproducing global inequalities: fashion hubs such as London, Paris and Milan traverse European space while being connected to other global cities, exploit peripheral locations, and influence sartorial choices all across the globe. But as Europe shifts politically rightwards, a major question comes into view that the sociology of fashion and fashion studies urgently need to address: How are ‘de-cosmopolitization’ processes, where borders are re-drawn, immigrants are demonised, and ethno-nationalism is on the rise, impacting upon and being dealt with the highly cosmopolitan systems and networks of fashion? The question necessitates new combinations of cultural sociology and political sociology, in order to understand how fashion is being restructured in light of values that it seems opposed to, in terms of both its central structures and the political affiliations and imaginaries of fashion actors.
Two empirical domains are investigated in this light. First, how different social classes in Finland are responding differentially to the perceived cosmopolitanism of fashion at a time when Finnish politics is ever more dominated by right-wing populism. Second, given that Brexit is a major phenomenon of de-cosmopolitization with ramifications for all of Europe, London fashion world’s reactions are crucial to examine. Comparing these two cases allows us to consider the ways in which fashion is being affected by anti-cosmopolitan trends of the kind that would be recognised by thinkers such as Norbert Elias and Ulrich Beck.
Exclusion and transgression
University of Tampere, Finland
This paper is based on my thesis project on the trajectories of life of a delinquent group of young men. The culture of the group is counter-normative in deeply contradictory forms. It celebrates freedom within desperate limitations, is joyful and immersed in the present while desolate and indifferent about the future, simultaneously creative and destructive, loyal and hostile. While the group-life is bound with strong solidarity, mutual understanding and a voracious appetite for excitement and adventure, an immensely active gleeful resentment against all limitations of the normal society characterize its relations outside.
My focus in this paper is on the cultural logics of exclusion. This relational dynamic seems to begin at an early age by being barred out of ‘normal’ communities, social routes and forms of affiliation. The shared experiences of exclusion initiate a pursuit for self-determination, rebellion and belonging found in each other and expressed in the group-culture. The cultural response of delinquency towards the prevailing social order leads to ever harsher forms of control, domination and exclusion by the society. Thus the too spirited an approach towards freedom and resistance to subordination lead paradoxically to their exact opposites.
While my point of departure is in the lived experience of the members of the group, I aim to theoretically clarify the cultural logics of delinquency in relation to its social conditions of formation and existence. I argue that these logics, relations and conditions should be understood as deeply enfolded and expressive of a society imbued by very real forms of inequality.