Economy and Society Summer School
Blackwater Castle, Co. Cork, Ireland. 8-12th of May 2017
A week-long doctoral symposium bringing together scholars from diverse disciplines to discuss fresh perspectives on ‘economic’ themes; the market, the state, production, consumption, value, money, work, commodities, poverty, inequality.
How can we re-think these concepts amid contemporary transformations?
President Michael D. Higgins opening the 2015 Summer School with staff and students.
Conceiving the economy as separate from society is problematic; theoretically, politically and morally. An economy is not simply an assemblage of law-like forces of production, consumption and market valuation which provides society with a material foundation. Rather, the ‘economy’ is a set of human institutions which are created socially, transformed through history and open to revision. Furthermore, far from being ethically-neutral laws of nature, economic processes have profoundly moral consequences for our society; for instance, in the growth of alienation, environmental degradation, inequality, hyper-individuation and the loss of meaning, hope and political alternatives.
Recent decades have seen the predominance of neo-liberal economics, which insists that human nature is fundamentally self-interested, and therefore the only institution which can fairly decide the value of anything is the market. Indeed, states have increasingly been caught up in this logic, deregulating existing markets, opening up new areas to the market principle, and turning the welfare state into an adjunct to the labour market.
The diffusion of these theories, from the academy to policy makers, politicians, journalists, teachers and the polity at large, is problematic: Firstly, this is only one perspective within economics, often backed with invocations of mathematical certainty, yet making vast assumptions about human nature. Secondly, there then appears to be no alternative, with the state as the mere hand-maiden of the productive market, and society as palliating the suffering of those left behind. Thirdly, ethical questions become relegated to private morality, as all public questions must be concerned strictly with utility, efficiency and cost effectiveness. Finally, activities which are the very fabric of society, caring for children or the elderly, community engagement and volunteering, contributing to public debates and criticism, creativity in arts, music or literature are subjected to the market evaluation of the ‘bottom-line’; nothing has intrinsic value.
This Economy & Society summer school has been developed under the auspices of the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative, an attempt to address recent and on-going crises, to understand and criticise the thinking which put these processes in train. Furthermore, we have the ambition to re-imagine alternatives to the present, where ethics would temper economic processes, and moral foundations to society are acknowledged.
Therefore, this summer school addresses the multiple and complex intersections of economy and society. Moving beyond the dichotomy of ‘economics versus social science’, this forum explores a multitude of alternative paradigms, methods and concepts, drawing from anthropology, cultural studies, governmentality, history, critical management studies, marketing and organisation studies. It is tailor-made for doctoral students, whether in exploratory stages, interpreting data or writing-up. Drawing together two dozen academic staff from Ireland and internationally, the summer school is a convivial, supportive and inspiring forum.
Apply now to: info.easss[@]gmail.com
Organised by the UCC/WIT:( http://moraleconomy.eu/ )
Centre for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Economy & Society:
School Directors: Tom Boland & Ray Griffin.