Conference Agenda

RN06_07b: Prefiguring Real Life Utopias in Dystopian Times
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Owen Worth, University of Limerick
Session Chair: Julia Eder, Johannes Kepler University Linz
Location: GM.333
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Property as a Fiduciary Relationship and the Extension of Economic Democracy: What Role for Basic Income?

David Casassas1, Jordi Mundó2

1University of Barcelona, Spain; 2University of Barcelona, Spain

Economic democracy requires that relevant doses of bargaining power be distributed among individuals and groups, which, in turn, demands the social dispersion of many kinds of resources. This implies that Blackstonian ideas of property as the despotic and excluding dominion over external objects be put in question and presented as only one of the multiple forms of control over resources human societies can harbour. In contrast to such view, the republican idea of property as a fiduciary relationship states that private appropriations of resources are only acceptable if these resources are used in a way that preferentially guarantees the coverage of the needs of the whole (present and future) population. This paper shows that this view on property rests on the underlying assumption that wealth is a social product which does not come from individual merit only, but it is a heritage from past endeavours and many forms of socially intertwined efforts. Therefore, there is need for institutional designs guaranteeing the democratization of the control over (the use of) such wealth. This is very much in kipping with what the idea of property as a fiduciary relationship ultimately aims at offering, namely: a collective decision-making process on how property rights and economic arrangements are shaped. This paper makes the case that universal basic income constitutes an appropriate tool to guarantee individuals’ and groups’ socioeconomic existence and bargaining power, which should enable all of them to democratically co-determine the nature and running of social and economic environments within contemporary societies.

Good Societies

Laura Shanti Basu

Utrecht University, Netherlands, The

This paper will present a new project that envisions possible future societies. Organised around the principles of ecological and social justice, it attempts to answer the central question: What would a ‘good’ society look like? It approaches this overarching question through pursuing a series of six interlocking sub-questions:

- What economic models would a good society have?

- What political systems would a good society have?

- What family structures and educations systems would a good society have?

- On what scale would a good society operate?

- What media and communications systems would a good society have?

- How do we get there?

A range of possibilities will be explored under each theme, from more modest reform proposals to ambitious transformations. The intention is to bring into dialogue diverse intellectual traditions, including strands within Marxism, anarchism, feminism, radical social democratic perspectives, eco-criticism and others. For example, the sub-question on economic models could include discussions from universal basic income, automation and the reduction of the working week, to participatory economics, to ideas around the commons and so on. The ‘scale’ theme tackles the role of – and alternatives to - the nation-state, and whether and on what terms ‘good’ globalisation would be possible.

The project combines research and civil society aims, and sits alongside a new Amsterdam-based community project: The paper will present the aims and objectives of the project, the hybrid theoretical and methodological approach, and some of the key ideas for alternative social structures thrown up by the research so far. This year's ESA conference, and RN06 in particular, seem to be the ideal forum in which to share and develop this endeavour.

“I Just Want More Time To Do Stuff I Enjoy”: Understanding Push-Pull Factors And Trade-Offs In Transitions To Reduced Hour Working Schedules

Ursula Balderson1, Brendan Burchell1, Daiga Kamerāde2, Hugo Lidmark1, Adam Coutts1, Senhu Wang1

1University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; 2University of Salford, United Kingdom

An interest in reduced hour working schedules is a frequent response to the pressures of high intensity working environments common to neoliberal capitalism. If, as has been predicted, machine learning and robotics cause a widespread reduction in job availability, a reduction in average working hours may be one way to avoid the social harm of mass unemployment. As such, this research project has identified a broad spectrum of people who are actively choosing to limit their earning capacities and are instead prioritising an increase in free time. This paper explores some of the push and pull factors that influence decision making around this topic. As well as some of the perceived advantages and disadvantages once a revised working schedule has been implemented, the research finds that trigger events such as illness or deaths can jolt people into the realisation that time is finite and needs to be wisely spent. In addition, life cycle factors such as the reduction (or active limitation) of financial commitments can make people more willing to exchange income for an improvement in their quality of life. Pre-existing commitment to a particular hobby or pastime was not a prerequisite for working time reduction preferences, as this can emerge organically once an increase in free time has been achieved.

Modernizing Agents: Intellectual Property Experts and Their Subjectivities in Modern Day Turkey

Ferhunde Dilara Demir

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, United States of America

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) diffuses models of intellectual property and its valuation around the world through national workshops, trainings and conferences all around the world, mostly targeting "developing" countries to promote innovation. Some scholars argue that this diffusion happens top-down except few local cases affecting and changing international regimes (Chorev 2012). In this paper, I argue that experts' subjectivities at local contexts are key to understand diffusion processes in the making. By shifting, the object of study from institutional diffusion toward actual agents diffusing knowledge, I would like to understand why and how certain “technical models” of IP valuation are socially disseminated in a specific context even if these models might not have any economic impact with respect to increasing innovation within the country. I did a qualitative study by conducting in-depth interviews with the patent experts in December 2013 and December 2014 in addition to document analysis. First, I identified IP valuation process models prescribed by WIPO in the country reports, national workshops on Innovation Promotion and Technological Transfer in 2012 in Istanbul and in 2013 in Ankara, Turkey. Then, I analyzed how these experts made sense of these models from in-depth interviews. I argue that the patent experts whose main responsibility is to comply with global standards of patenting at a domestic level on paper, perceive themselves as “modernizing agents” of the globe, while tying themselves to the political status of the country and its place in a globalizing world. Dissemination of these models into universities and schools within Turkey gave them a special “global” status and a moral role in “modernizing” society through promoting “innovator mentality” as well as distinguishing themselves from the rest of the society promoting “copier mentality”. Postcolonial theoretical framework and valuation studies allowed me to understand socio-historical processes affecting expert subjectivities.