Classic Social Theories of the Economy

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Prova orale


Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"


The seminar will focus on selected readings of the three "classics" of economic sociology (Marx, Weber and Durkheim), with two sessions each: one on the authors, and one on recent applications, developments and controversies on the main concepts of those authors. The reason why Marx, Weber and Durkheim are considered as "classic" is that, given the time they lived in, they did not take capitalism for granted and attempted to build general societal interpretations for it. Towards the end of the XX Century, this came to be seen by many as a reason for their obsolescence, leaving the space for more 'meso-level' approaches such as the 'New Economic Sociology'. But in recent times, following the financial we see a resurgence of the "big" sociological questions about the economy: what is happening to inequality? where does economic rationality come from, and what are its limitations? what are the social norms necessary to the functioning of the market, and how do economic interest groups emerge, associate and act? is capitalism going to end? Theoretical congruence and depth is necessary for these debates not to fall into simplistic ideological statement and to be operationalisable in empiricial research programs. The last session will be devoted to debates on which participants will be asked to take a side and prepare the case for specific theoretical stances, and to a reflection on how structural and cultural changes in the last century (decolonisation, environmental issues, feminism...) affect the utility of classic theories.

Obiettivi formativi

Familiarity with classic economic sociological works and orientation in current debates about capitalism and the economy.

Riferimenti bibliografici

A Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory (1971)

W Streeck, How Will Capitalism End? (2016)

P Edwards, R Hodson, M Korczynski (eds), Social Theory at Work (2006)

K Morrison, Marx, Durkheim, Weber (2006)

D Sayer, Capitalism and modernity : an excursus on Marx and Weber (1991)

G Bhambra & J Holmwood, Colonialism and social theory (2021)