9781844671656-frontcover-max_221 more images image

The New Spirit of Capitalism

A major new work examining network-based organizations and post-Fordist work structures.
Why is the critique of capitalism so ineffective today? In this major work, the sociologists Eve Chiapello and Luc Boltanski suggest that we should be addressing the crisis of anticapitalist critique by exploring its very roots.

Via an unprecedented analysis of management texts which influenced the thinking of employers and contributed to reorganization of companies over the last decades, the authors trace the contours of a new spirit of capitalism. 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 relative work autonomy, but at the cost of material and psychological security.

This new spirit of capitalism triumphed thanks to a remarkable recuperation of the “artistic critique”—that which, after May 1968, attacked the alienation of everyday life by capitalism and bureaucracy. At the same time, the “social critique” was disarmed by the appearance of neocapitalism and remained fixated on the old schemas of hierarchical production.

This book, remarkable for its scope and ambition, seeks to lay the basis for a revival of these two complementary critiques.

Reviews

  • “A wide-ranging, nuanced sociological inquiry into the nature of contemporary work.”
  • “[A] vast and ambitious work, which is inscribed in a great tradition of theoretical and critical sociology.”
  • “This magnificent book [is] the sociology of a whole generation which capitalism caught on the wrong foot. In more than 800 pages which one devours like a great novel, the book furnishes new weapons for the renewal of the Left.”
  • “This book will no doubt come to be regarded as a contemporary classic of political economy and political sociology.”
  • “Ambitious and fascinating.”

Blog

  • Clinton’s Historical Tragedy and the International Women’s Strike: In Support of a Feminism for the 99%


    1912 Lawrence Textile Strike

    Mired in the recurrent nightmare that is Trump, it is hard to look back and take stock of what happened last week, let alone three months ago. Yet, looking back at Hillary Clinton’s defeat, one may not only see the rising tide of Trump’s hordes, but also the tragic fate of a liberal era. Nowhere is this clearer than in the contradictions embodied by Clinton’s deeply personal but nonetheless strained relation to feminism. Not surprisingly, a broad group of radical and internationalist women are showing the way forward with a call for a feminism of the 99% and coordinating in the U.S. on March 8th with the International Women’s Strike.

    Even viewed from a radical perspective, responding on one hand to Clinton’s loss and on the other to Trump’s continuous appalling attacks, we can see Hillary Clinton defeat as having the features of a contemporary tragedy.

    Continue Reading

  • Frédéric Lordon's Willing Slaves of Capital: A Review



    The following review, by Abhijeet Paul, was originally published in Critical Inquiry.

    In the three chapters—more like three theses—Lordon explores the reasons for our general desire to be enslaved by modern work and the workplace. This justifies the title of the book: we are willing slaves of capital—it would not be otherwise. Further, Lordon emphasizes, there is no voluntary, but only passionate, servitude.

    Continue Reading

  • The Front National: what kind of people are they? By Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre

    Xenophobia Blog Series. This is the first instalment of a series of pieces published on our blog by leading voices on the current and alarming force of Xenophobia - the fear of "strange and foreign" identities.

    “The terrible results of the European elections were not a crash of thunder in a calm sky. They are a particularly worrying step in a downward spiral that has accelerated in recent months.” This is how the sociologists Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre see the recent results from the European elections. Together Boltanski and Esquerre discuss the aftermath of the European elections and the rise of the Front National Party—an economically reactionary, socially conservative, and xenophobic nationalist political party—in France. 

    Continue Reading