A dialectical reflection on the emergence of the ‘citizen as consumer’ as neoliberal citizenship

In this article, we argue that citizenship conceived within a context of neoliberal rationality helps explain the emergence of what we term the ‘citizen as consumer’. We define the citizen as consumer as someone who relates to the state and the public realms from the private perspective of consumption. We ask how this emergent neoliberal citizen is configured in peripheral countries that are regarded as exemplifying ‘weak’ citizenship. To respond to this question, we consider the protests that occurred in Brazil in 2013 as an empirical illustration. Our main objective is to rethink the citizen/state relationship in consumer studies, employing a dialectical analysis to understand how the better-known consumer-citizen movement, in which the consumer acts as a citizen and gives birth, under a neoliberal rationality, to a movement that somehow disrupts these roles such that the citizen starts to act as a consumer. The Brazilian protests provide insights that advance debate on the scope and limits of the hybridization between citizens and consumers and on the transformations in the relationship between citizenship and politics.

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Posted in Citi<en, Consumer | Tagged ,

When – and why – did people first start using money?

Sometimes you run across a grimy, tattered dollar bill that seems like it’s been around since the beginning of time. Assuredly it hasn’t, but the history of human beings using cash currency does go back a long time – 40,000 years.

Scientists have tracked exchange and trade through the archaeological record, starting in Upper Paleolithic when groups of hunters traded for the best flint weapons and other tools. First, people bartered, making direct deals between two parties of desirable objects.

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Radicalizing the Root: The Return of Philosophical Anthropology to the Critique of Political Economy

This paper examines the return to philosophical anthropology to the critique of political economy in the work of Etienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, and Paolo Virno. I argue that this return is no longer a question of the alienation or realization of a human essence, but the way in which the very idea of the human is itself produced in and through the exploitation of labor power. The quotidian act of selling one’s labor power, of selling a capacity to work, makes it possible to reexamine the anthropological concept of humanity as potential, as the capacity to learn new habits. Finally, I argue that it is through this generic figure of the human, and its exclusions that we must think the ground for political struggle.

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Inequality – An Entangled Political Economy Perspective

In recent years the degree of income and wealth inequality within developed countries has been raised as a central issue in economic and social policy debates. Numerous figures across diverse ideological affinities have advocated policy measures to significantly alter income and wealth distributions, while the inequality debate has become infused with other subjects such as social justice and identity politics. This book presents an account of economic inequality from a contemporary classical liberal perspective. Inequality is seen as a by-product of entangled relationships within society, bringing to the fore key ideas from complexity, evolutionary and network sciences.

Novak illustrates that inequality is problematic insofar as it generates pro-rich redistribution and constrains progress by the less well off. Economic inequality has important links with issues such as fiscal and regulatory policies, discrimination and social exclusion, and institutional design. This unique book is important reading for social science academics, policy makers and people interested in exploring the dimensions and solutions to inequality, a critical issue of our time.

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Growing Up Wealthy Makes Leaders More Narcissistic

How does income inequality — currently at historically high levels — affect the types of leaders we get in the workplace? As a first step toward exploring that question, we carried out a study exploring how parental income while people are growing up relates to their leadership behaviors as adults. We found that parental income is significantly related to adult levels of narcissism, a trait characterized by grandiose self-views, impulsive tendencies, and low empathy. We also found that those levels of narcissism were associated with people’s engagement (or lack thereof) in important leadership behaviors and various measures of effectiveness.

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Posted in Leadership, Wealth | Tagged ,

Financial networks and stress testing

Network models, stress testing methods, and early warning systems are attracting growing interest both among scholars and practitioners. In this short paper, we illustrate some of the insights they have to offer both in terms of new fundamental scientific understanding of the emergence systemic risk and in terms of concrete applications to the policy areas of financial stability and macro-prudential policy. Finally, we discuss new research pathways to address the challenging questions still open, including multiplex networks, big financial data, and climate finance.

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Poor and powerless – economic and political inequality

The relationship between economic and political inequality has long concerned social scientists, but research remains limited in scope. Most studies focus on isolated cases, highly restricted subsamples, or subunits within countries. Using data for up to 136 countries between 1981 and 2011, this study analyzes whether and how income inequality affects the distribution of political power for, and respect for the civil liberties of, a society’s rich and poor people. When income inequality is high, do rich people command greater political power and enjoy stronger civil liberties than poor people do? To answer these questions, the study uses both pooled regression analyses and two-stage models with instrumental variables to identify causal effects. The results are decisive: income inequality is inimical to both political and civil equality. These findings hold for developed as well as developing countries and for democratic as well as nondemocratic countries.

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Studies point to physical pain as an outcome of economic insecurity

A series of studies have found a connection between economic insecurity and physical pain. Lead research Eileen Chou and colleagues were interested in how factors such as employment status, economic security, and perceived control lead to physical pain among people who experience economic insecurity.

In the first study, a sample of 33,720 households were accessed through Nielsen’s consumer panel data set, with data related to household purchases of over the counter (OTC) painkillers and employment status tracked. Results indicated that household unemployment level predicted the use of OTC painkillers.

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Reconsidering Value and Labour in the Digital Age

How do labour and value-production change in the age of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter?

This volume explores current interventions into the digital labour theory of value, proposing theoretical and empirical work that contributes to our understanding of Marx’s labour theory of value, proposes how labour and value are transformed under conditions of digital and social media, and employ the theory in order to shed light on specific practices.

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Creating an innovation culture

Even as opportunities grow to exchange ideas and cross-fertilize innovative impulses across organizational boundaries, we’re also seeing a renaissance of something decidedly traditional: the corporate R&D department. Concentrations of scientific talent at institutions such as Bell Labs and PARC (a Xerox company) once ruled the innovation roost, but many company R&D units lost their luster as cost pressures made them less tenable and the digital revolution enabled smaller organizations to make outsized innovation contributions. Recently, though, a new generation of corporate R&D powerhouses has been emerging at technology leaders such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The advance of artificial intelligence, for example, is creating a new set of innovation opportunities for these leaders.

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