Tales of ‘Much of a muchness’: Adventures in the land of social capital

Ben Fine’s argument in his second book on social capital, Theories of social capital, is straightforward: social capital is a non-sensical concept. With a nod to the Mad Hatter and his tea party in Lewis Carroll’s much-loved Alice in wonderland, Fine’s purpose in this book is to point out to us the circularities, tautologies and oxymorons of the exhaustingly vast academic and policy literature on social capital.

Between the event and democratic materialism

Bruno Bosteels, Professor of Romance Studies at the University of Cornell, has translated into English Theory of the subject (Badiou, 2009a) and Wittgenstein's anti-philosophy (Badiou, 2011). Additionally, he has written a number of significant articles and essays on Alain Badiou, including ‘Post-Maoism: Badiou and Politics’ (2005), Badiou or the restarting of dialectical materialism (2007), Alain Badiou: A polemical trajectory (2009a). He is therefore one of the best specialists of Badiou within the Anglophone academy.

Can capitalism survive climate change?

Can capitalism effectively respond to climate change? This is the timely and critically important question posed by Peter Newell and Matthew Paterson at the beginning of their book, Climate Capitalism. It is the same question that motivated me to focus my own research on the topic of business and climate change nearly fifteen years ago.

Carbon trading in South Africa: Plus ça change?

Whether carbon markets have a role in responding to climate change and delivering positive benefits to the developing world is a question that continues to generate lively debate and is rightly subject to ever more critical scrutiny. From cases of climate fraud and corruption in carbon markets to instances of displacement and the exposure of poorer people to negative social and environmental effects from hosting CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects, there is mounting criticism of the effectiveness and equity of using offset and trading mechanisms to tackle climate change.

The ‘third way’ for climate action

During the last two decades, there has emerged a substantial literature on climate change that deals with its various aspects from the very science of climate change to its economics, with widespread ramifications (see Cowie, 2007; IPCC, 2007; Stern, 2006). In his book, The Politics of Climate Change, Anthony Giddens sets out with the task of chalking out a political framework, which he believes is needed in order to deal with climate change.

The playing fields of late capitalism

Neo-liberalism seems to persist through a double life. For sure, it believes in itself like all forms of fundamentalist thought, but it also unconsciously divines its own impossibility. It thus grows outrageous characters to compensate, to fill the void, like a petulant child who invents far-fetching tales after raiding the cookie jar.

The work of games

My heart sunk as the introduction to Games of Empire (GoE) began with a recounting of scene in Second Life – was this to be an analysis of the possibilities of virtual life tempered with warnings that the means of such life are brought to you by Empire? Three paragraphs later, the simple acknowledgement that Second Life avatars consume electricity produced somehow on servers located somewhere made the stakes of the book clear and allayed any such fears.

Diasporas in a digital age

Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff’s book Digital Diasporas: Identity and Transnational Engagement provides a great deal of useful material concerning the use of Internet technologies for social organizing among diaspora communities. As the author notes, this is an area that has been relatively under-researched and, for that matter, under-theorized.


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