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Max Weber, Markets & Economic Sociology

7th May 2014 - University of Warwick

An event organized by the Max Weber Study Group of the British Sociological Association and the Social Theory Centre at the University of Warwick

In the wake of the recent financial crisis, there is an urgent need for social scientists to think conceptually and critically about the economy and its relation to society. This event will contribute to this task by re-examining Weber’s writings on capitalism, markets and banking, and considering the value of his work for understanding the ongoing financialisation of the economy and of everyday life. While Weber’s economic sociology dates from the turn of the 20th Century, in many ways it continues to speak to the present. The 1890s saw the collapse of several European banks, suspension of payment on sovereign debt bonds issued by the governments of Argentina, Portugal and Greece, and speculative activity in the stock exchanges, with calls for a moralisation of finance in the name of the ‘thrifty average people’, sometimes coming from very interested parties (the Prussian landowner class). Max Weber became actively engaged in the debate on the regulation of the exchanges and published two pamphlets intended for a general audience, which looked at the stock and commodity exchanges as ‘institutions’. Another Weberian theme is what sort of person is produced by financialization: the banker, the trader, the capitalist adventurer as well as the upsurge of acquisitive culture. Recent controversies over bonuses return us to the principal-agent dilemma. In considering such work, this event will position Weber’s economic sociology in relation to recent debates over the limits of neoclassical and neoliberal economics, and will reflect, more generally, on the ways in which it might be used to gain an understanding of the complexities of capitalism - both of the past and of the present.

Confirmed speakers:
•Geoff Ingham (Cambridge)
•Scott Lash (Goldsmiths)
•Linsey McGoey (Essex)
•Keith Tribe
•Sam Whimster (Global Policy Institute)
•David Woodruff (LSE)

Session topics:
•‘Market Order and Social Rationality’
•‘Charismatic Authority and the Rise of the 21st-Century Philanthrocrat’
•'Weber and Markets: From Neoclassicism to Neoliberalism’
•‘Weber and Money as an Economic Institution’
•‘The Economics of Power: Max Weber on Banking’
•‘Money, Capitalism, and the West’

Full Programme Available Here