In this major work, the sociologists Eve Chiapello and Luc Boltanski go to the heart of the changes in contemporary business culture.
Via an unprecedented analysis of the latest management texts that have formed the thinking of employers in their organization of business, the authors trace the contours of a new spirit of capitalism. They argue that from the middle of the 1970s onwards, capitalism abandoned the hierarchical Fordist work structure and developed a new network-based form of organization which was founded on employee initiative and autonomy in the workplace – a 'freedom' that came at the cost of material and psychological security.
The authors connect this new spirit with the children of the libertarian and romantic currents of the late 1960s (as epitomised by dressed-down. cool capitalists such as Bill Gates and 'Ben and Jerry') arguing that they practice a more successful and subtle form of exploitation.
In a work that is already a classic in Europe, Boltanski and Chiapello show how the new spirit triumphed thanks to a remarkable recuperation of the Left's critique of the alienation of everyday life – a recuperation that simultaneously undermined the power of its social critique.
Hardback, 601 pages
$95.00 / £75.00
With two new books coming out, Luc Boltanski, author of the sweeping New Spirit of Capitalism, recently sat down for an interview with Books & Ideas to discuss the intellectual trajectory of his career and the possibilities of critique in contemporary society. Placing a particular emphasis on the two major preoccupations of his oeuvre, the sociology of critique and critical sociology, the interview goes on at length about his research with Bourdieu, social class as a viable theoretical concept, and the various presuppositions of his earlier writings.
Pointedly, he highlights the importance of understanding the past political horizon for a cogent re-formulation of critical sociology in the present. Referring to the recent republication of an article he co-wrote with Bourdieu a few years after May 68, he notes that:
it also struck me as useful to shed light on the political era in which we presently find ourselves. The texts that it analyzes-those of Giscard, Poniatowski, or of contemporary economists-lie at the frontier of two outlooks: between, on the one hand, what at the time was called "technocracy," which was still deeply statist, still deeply tied to the idea of economic planning, rationality, and industrialization; and, on the other, neoliberal forms of governance. It is very illuminating to return to the middle of the seventies if one wants to undertake the archaeology of the Sarkozian political universe, which has considerably expanded neoliberal policies while dressing them up, at times, in so-called "republican" rhetoric.
To say nothing of the larger trends dominating the rest of the Eurozone and the United States! To read the rest of the interview in full, please visit Books & Ideas.