Erik Olin Wright

Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of many books, including Classes, Interrogating Inequality, Class Counts, Deepening Democracy (with Archon Fung), and Envisioning Real Utopias. For more information on Envisioning Real Utopias and the Real Utopias project, and to access book content, please visit (site in progress).


  • Free ebook from New Left Project: Alternatives to Capitalism by Erik Olin Wright and Robin Hahnel

    New Left Project have released a new ebook, featuring a discussion between distinguished economist Robin Hahnel and sociologist and leading radical thinker Erik Olin Wright. The discussion revolves around the crucial but oft-neglected question of what kind of society should we be fighting for, post-capitalism, and has gained high praise from the likes of Noam Chomsky, Gar Alperovitz and Stuart White.

    Hahnel favours a bottom-up approach of participatory economics, whilst Wright advocates for a 'real utopian socialism’. Alternatives to Capitalism puts these practical proposals through their paces in an in-depth, frank and extremely instructive debate about the central question of our time. 

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  • "Real Utopias" and the "Revolutionary and Evolutionary" Culture and Politics of Detroit

    Drawing on the work of Jacques Ranciere and Erik Olin Wright, Vince Carducci at Deliberately Considered has written a remarkable reflection on the renewed experience of aesthetic and political community in Detroit. In the face of decades of blight and increased "demassification," the city has, in a stunning dialectical movement, recently begun to witness an unprecedented creative flourishing and reclamation of the city's downtown space. In his article, Carducci points to the ways that the city's neglected spaces, foreclosed homes and abandoned buildings have suddenly come to "open up a new field of cultural production" that has, of late, encouraged young artists to repurpose them and, in effect, reimagine and assert a robust new understanding of the "commons". That is, by using as their raw material the virtually abandoned ruins of the city, artists in Detroit are seizing opportunities to use them to boldly re-articulate new understandings of what public space, community and urban experience mean to them today.

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  • "Emancipatory social science"—Choice reviews Erik Olin Wright's Envisioning Real Utopias

    Following a string of arguments and rebuttals over Erik Olin Wright's Envisioning Real Utopias, a reviewer in Choice declares that Wright "builds a strong case for an emancipatory social science." The Progressive's Editor, Matthew Rothschild, described the book as a "vision of a radically democratic and egalitarian society—and some ways we might get there." 

    Sociologist Wright (Univ. of Wisconsin) uses critiques of capitalism and commitment to social justice as his starting point and builds a strong case for an emancipatory social science investigating what he calls desirable, viable, and achievable alternatives to capitalist social, political and economic organization. He clearly states analytical distinctions and definitions and supplies excellent examples; discusses capitalism and its critiques; and contrasts socialism (emphasizing the social), capitalism, and statism in his discussion of economic, state, and social power and the potential for social empowerment through civil society. Wright acknowledges challenges to achieving social justice goals in social transformation and gives examples of projects that he sees as indicative of democratic egalitarianism: Wikipedia; participatory city budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil; Spain's Mondragon cooperatives; community land trusts; and the fair trade movement. Of interest for sociology, labour studies, anthropology, political economy, and social work collections. Recommended. [E. Kingsolver, University of South Carolina]