Aftermath

PDF EBook by Manuel Castells

EBook Description

The ‘Great Financial Crisis’ (GFC), ‘Great Recession’ or whatever we choose to call the current state of global capitalism has spawned all manner of critique, analysis and commentary, most of it narrowly framed by the same narrative to toxic mortgages, obscure (and frankly perverse) financial instruments producing a bank liquidity crisis that spread out from the USA to take in the rest of the world (of course, if we take ‘the world’ to be the major and wanna- PDFbe major capitalist states). Aftermath PDF EBook The result, in this narrative, has been austerity, continued irresponsible and greedy banking and an intensified crisis (or, if from a commentator on some version of the middling to neo-liberal right, green shoots of recovery). Now, this narrative is not necessary wrong (except for the recovery bit), but it is ingrained, repetitious and not telling us much that is new (neither is it giving a decent sense of the systemic character of the crisis). Alongside this (pop)journalist economic narrative is a less widely known story of response where the alienated and dispossessed are taking control of their own solutions and hunting out new ways of operating in a hostile economic environment, while the emergence in Europe at least of growing support for anti-austerity forces such as Podemos (in Spain) and Syriza (in Greece) suggests and emerging anti- or alter-capitalist options.

What has been missing from much of the ‘debate’ and almost all of the scholarly analysis has been rigorous sociological engagement – not that this is new; download; as the editors note in their introduction to this engaging and important collection of paper, there was very little serious sociological analysis to emerge from the depression of the 1930s, except Marie Jahoda et al’s exploration of the Austrian town ofMarienthal (there were a good number of more journalistic exploration of the Depression, but little in the way of ‘scientific’ sociological study). This collection is a good start to begin to change that gap in contemporary analyses. There is a coherence to the collection – most of the authors were members of a single international research group largely but not exclusively working in a framework provided by notions of the network society that has emerged from work by Castells and various of his collaborators over the last 15-20 years. The collection’s five sections explore ideas of crisis and aftermath in social science traditions, considering the extent to which the crisis has changed over the period from 2008-12 (when it was initially published), looking at various responses to the crisis by business and political and social groups, looking at ways to transcend the crisis and asking the question whether it is really global.

For the most part these are significant pieces that demand that social scientists look much more carefully at what is going on around us and analyse the current crisis through our own disciplinary lenses rather than getting hung up on obtuse and obfuscatory economic approaches that seem to make sense of the crisis while perpetuating the mystique. Essays here include Rosalind Williams’ excellent exploration of the ways terms such as ‘crisis’ and ‘aftermath’ are used in both mainstream political and analytical discussions as well as in the social sciences revealing the potential of theoretically and historically aware analysis, João Caraςa’s essay considering the shift from modernity’s separation of cultures to postmodernity’s individualising cultures of separation (it is short, elegant piece) and crucially Joana Conill et al’s empirically rich discussion of responses to the economic crisis in Catalonia that reveals a very high level of trust-based non-capitalist economic activity. There are extremely valuable discussions of corporate branding of the crisis through a close reading of advertising campaigns by Chrysler and Levis, of the place of a range of nationalist approaches to the crisis, of ways that the welfare state features in responses and the range of network society responses associated with increasingly widespread digital media. More difficult for more general audiences are the two papers discussing aspects of change in both the form of the crisis and aspects of socio-cultural change associated with its effects.

Perhaps the most unsettling piece is a close reading of China, often presented as a place bucking the trend of the crisis, that suggests that the economy may not be as strong (taking the full range of neo-classical measures) as is presented but more importantly pointing to the deep seated social crisis that is emerging. This essay is paired with the least convincing piece in the collection, Ernesto Ottone’s discussion of the limited but highly uneven impact of the crisis (at least in 2012) in Latin America; the problem with this essay is primarily that it does not sit comfortably with the theoretical perspectives running through the rest of the collection and that Ottone’s role in Latin American pan-state institutions means his discussion is the most statist and the most closely linked to the orthodoxy of state and pan-state approaches.

This is a really useful book both for scholarly analysts and for those looking for ways to make sense of the crisis, responses to it and its sociological effects. Its usefulness is enhanced by its conceptual coherence and its close focus on the form, character and effects of the crisis. I didn’t find this as invigorating as Andrea Fumagalli et al’sCrisis in the Global Economy: Financial Markets, Social Struggles, and New Political Scenarios despite being written 3 years later; I suspect this is partly because of the tighter focus and narrower theoretical framing. That said, there is important work here that is, in current circumstances, essential and that poses an important challenge to contemporary scholars who do not seem to have effectively focussed on the crisis as part of their investigations of the here and now. There is much here for many of us working in sociology and other social sciences and trying to make sense of the world of the present. Like this book? Read online this: The Crisis of German Social Democracy, Aftermath of War.

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