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Tagesarchiv für den 11. January 2015

Winter School 2015 – abstracts morning lectures
11. January 2015, Michael Toggweiler | 0 Comments

Promises, Contracts and the Derivative Form

Arjun Appadurai

Derivatives (financial instruments that involve trading on the basis of differential assessments of the future prices of other underlying assets) are ways in which financiers have found ways to make money out of risk, rather than out of prices of assets. Derivatives therefore raise the question of whether they are themselves a version of the commodity form or whether they represent a new symbolic form in which money has become largely separate from commodities. This puzzle is central to the sense in which finance has become the dominant current form of capital. My lecture explores the relationship between promises, contracts and derivatives to suggest that derivative finance is the latest instance of Joseph Schumpeter’s idea of “creative destruction”, in which capitalism grows and expands by destroying its prior institutional axioms and forms.


Winter School 2015 – abstracts morning lectures
11. January 2015, Michael Toggweiler | 0 Comments

Social Capital in the Network Society

Martin Hartmann

In Robert Putnam’s Making Democracy Work (1993) social capital comprises features of social organizations such as trust, norms and networks that facilitate cooperation. Later Putnam uses social capital merely by referring to networks. In his article Martin Hartmann analyzes the relation between networks and social capital in relying on Putnam’s distinction between horizontal and vertical networks. While Putnam assumes that vertical networks, that is networks between unequal or unequally powerful individuals, cannot engender norms of reciprocal obligation and thus cannot produce social capital, Hartmann claims that social capital can be produced in the context of asymmetrical relations. To substantiate this thesis an economic model of networks is introduced and linked to neoliberal contemporary capitalism. In building upon the work of Boltanski and Chiapello it is further assumed that neoliberal capitalism is a network capitalism in which those who can successfully act in these networks as they are flexible and in possession of key qualifications rely on the work of a static and hardly recognized stratum of “doubles” that locally administers and organizes the social capital from which the successful, the ‘network opportunists’, profit. Read more


Winter School 2015 – abstracts morning lectures
11. January 2015, Michael Toggweiler | 0 Comments

Subsumption, Subjectivity, Synchronicity circa 1848

Anna Kornbluh

In early 1848, the Manifesto of the Communist Party irrevocably articulated “class struggle” as the defining feature of “all hitherto existing society.”  Exploring the consequences of this universalization of antagonism, this lecture considers the moment of 1848 as revolutionary not only in practice (in the Springtime of the Peoples), but also in theory: in the concep-tualization, across political discourse, literary invention, and mathematical formalism, of what Marx called “real sub- sumption.”  The disappearance of the gap between capitalism and its preconditions, between capitalism and sociality as such, between capitalist schemes for intersubjectivity and all other schemes, is a historical transformation of capital, even as it obscures history.  The Manifesto and Wuthering Heights (1848) (and, in a surprising way, the discovery of Set Theory) each make that transformation thinkable.


Winter School 2015 – abstracts morning lectures
11. January 2015, Michael Toggweiler | 0 Comments

The Riddle of Value, or, Where to Begin?

Vicky Kirby

“Value” in the Saussurean sense is an economic notion, a system of differential exchange through which signification comes to reside in and as a word/concept with an apparently intrinsic value. We tend to assume that a sign is present because other signs are absent, but this is far from the case. Saussure argued that the sign is consubstantial with the system that gives it life, but if this is how a system “produces” worth and value then a simple presence/absence model – this is not that – seems unworkable. Indeed, we are left with the paradox that this is that, even when it appears to be entirely different, other and elsewhere. Could this sense of an inherent and originary entanglement implicate what we thought was material with/in what we presume is ideational? This paper will explore the broader implications of this riddle by questioning the nature/culture divide and the place of the biological body in our understanding of economy and value.


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