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Capitalist unrealism: Countering the crisis of critique and imagination

Introduction: Capitalism, unpacked

How does capitalism – in its various guises – capture the value that we produce in society? There are many ways to answer this question, because capitalism has many ways to extract value from us (Chertkovskaya et al., 2016; Hanlon, 2017). On the surface, everything seems above board. Businesses erect factories and offices for us to work in; workers sign contracts and receive wages for their daily efforts; and shareholders put in the capital and get a return on their investments. But below the surface, things are not quite so straightforward.

Capitalist unrealism: Countering the crisis of critique and imagination

Rejecting capitalism is like living out Don Michael Corleone’s famous phrase from The Godfather Part III: ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in’. Traditionally, capitalism has used violence to lay claim to everything that escapes from it. But today this violence is complemented by more insidious forms of coercion that are based as much on seduction and pleasure as they are on cruelty and oppression. We now work for capitalism as much in our free time as we do when we are being paid – not because we have to, but because we want to.

A critical theory of hope

Latin American cosmologies of autonomy

The politics of autonomy in Latin America. The art of organizing hopepublished in 2015 by Argentinian scholar Ana Cecilia Dinerstein for the Palgrave series Non-governmental public actionis an engaging book, relevant for researchers interested not only in social movements and critical social theory, but also for those working in the field of organization studies and political economy, and for everyone else interested in alternatives to the dominant socio-economic system that is capitalism.

‘But it hardly needs saying…’

The seating arrangements in the French Estates-General assumed two sides, left or right, for or against, this or that. Seats have to go somewhere, but the division of politics into two ‘sides’ has certainly encouraged glaring and shouting. It encourages us to believe that this is a practice which requires firm distinctions, and to express disappointment when all available options on a ballot paper converge on focus group centrism. For most people, to recognise something distinctive called Politics, we need to see assertion, struggle, and antagonism.

The politics of consumption

If Politics, following Aristotle (1984), is a matter of analysing, comparing and ultimately creating practices of human association, we will do well to regard consumption practices as inherently political. Such a regard requires us to take a comparative-prospective disposition towards the roles and practices that underpin the production and distribution of subsistence and luxury.

New conditions for identities, cultures and governance of welfare sector professionals: The teaching profession


This paper examines conditions for professional work in times of contradictory trends in the context of professional work, changes that inevitably influence working conditions. Changes in governance[1] are of special interest as many recent reform movements specifically, albeit not always explicitly, aim at changing the identity of professionals (Skålén, 2004).

Social work: A history of gender and class in the profession


In 2010, social work officially marked its 60th anniversary as a profession in Norway. In 1950 the state-run Norwegian School of Governmental and Social Work was established to meet the needs of a ‘new born’ welfare state emerging immediately after the Second World War (Kluge, 1960; Terum, 1982). A corps of executive officers was required to handle a series of social-political reforms regarding social support and economic services.

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