Events

COPENHAGEN: Danish newspaper hosts Guy Standing on basic income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/09/2017 - 9:08pm in

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More information about the event with Standing, “Borgerløn - Utopi eller Nødvendighed?” (“Basic Income: Utopia or Necessity?”), is available on the website of Politiken Live.

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Dates announced for 2018 North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/09/2017 - 12:38pm in

The 2018 NABIG Congress will be May 24-27 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The post Dates announced for 2018 North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress appeared first on BIEN.

Unconditional Basic Income Europe announces meeting prior to BIEN Congress

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 7:53pm in

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UBIE will be holding a meeting in Lisbon on Sunday, September 24. All conference attendees may join its afternoon workshops.

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Sophie Webber, ‘The new “gold standard”: experimentalism, behaviouralism, and marketisation for development’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 2:45pm in

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2017 Political Economy Seminar Series

Sophie Webber (University of Sydney), ‘The new “gold standard”: experimentalism, behaviouralism, and marketisation for development

Date: Thursday 21 September 2017

Time: 4:00pm-5.30pm

Location: Merewether Seminar Room 398, University of Sydney

Abstract: Development economics and institutions have a new ‘gold standard’: the randomized control trial, or RCT. An RCT is an evaluation technique that draws from experimental design in order to measure the impact of a development project. Due to randomization – randomly distributing people or communities to receive either control or treatment – advocates suggest that it is possible to measure the impact of an intervention, and attribute a causal relationship between the intervention and its outcome. As such, proponents claim that RCTs are able to get to the heart of what really ‘works’ for development interventions. This paper charts the rise of RCTs within two major development institutions: the World Bank, and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Drawing from fieldwork at these two institutions, we follow RCTs as a technology of development, finding that they take divergent forms at each of the institutions. The paper examines the contested and uneven paths of RCTs as they have proliferated throughout development economics scholarship and practice, and teases out the new problems, subjects, spaces and governance regimes of development that RCTs engender. We build on existing research within economic geography concerned with the rise of behaviouralism as a tool for expanded, and corrected, marketisation. By centring the methodology of RCTs, we find institutional and geographical variation, as well as a reconfiguration of development governance through experimentation.

About the speaker: Sophie is a human geographer, who conducts research about the political economies of climate change and international development assistance, principally in South East Asia and the Pacific region. In particular, Sophie studies how ‘truth’ (knowledge claims and expertise), ‘capital’ (financial flows and investments), and policy packages structure relations between the minority and majority worlds. Methodologically, this research requires relational fieldwork, examining how climatological and developmental crises and problems are interpreted, storied, and managed, both by local and governmental authorities, as well as by distant international experts such as the World Bank.

Within this broad interest, Sophie is currently working on three related projects. The first is an ongoing engagement with the roll-out of climate change adaptation programming in Pacific Islands, and by international development experts. Building on this research, Sophie is currently examining efforts by climate scientists and development experts to create bundles of useful climate science, called ‘climate services’, and the commercialization that this entails. The second concerns the rise of evidence-based policy-making, including the proliferation of randomized control trials to assess development interventions. The third project is a collaborative investigation of the growth of urban resilience frameworks, associated financial tools, and their attempted implementation in Jakarta.

Contact: Gareth Bryant, gareth.bryant@sydney.edu.au

Upcoming seminars: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/political_economy/about/seminars/seminar_series.shtml

All welcome!

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World Prepares to Celebrate 10th Basic Income Week

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/09/2017 - 9:03pm in

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The 10th annual international Basic Income Week will be September 18 to 24.

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CfP Free Trade, Labour Movements and the Search for Alternatives

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/09/2017 - 10:02am in

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Events, Free Trade

At the next World Congress of the International Sociological Association in Toronto/Canada (15-21 July 2018), I am organising a panel on the topic ‘Free Trade, Labour Movements and the Search for Alternatives’. This call for Papers is open until 30 September and you can submit your proposals online HERE.

Title:

Free Trade, Labour Movements and the Search for Alternatives

Session Description:

Expanded free trade agreements including free trade in services, procurement and investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms seemed to go ahead despite widespread criticism. And yet, first the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was stalled in Europe by a broad coalition of trade unions and social movements and then US President Trump ripped up the Transpacific Partnership agreement as one of his first actions in office.

Historically, the global labour movement has been divided over free trade. While trade unions in the Global North and here especially Europe were in support, as free trade seemed to secure export markets for companies in which they organised workers, labour movements in the Global South were frequently opposed. They too often had experienced deindustrialisation as a result of free trade and the inability of their infant industries to compete with higher productivity goods from the North.

The purpose of this panel is twofold. First, the focus is on papers analysing the alliances between trade unions and social movements against free trade agreements. Have these different types of actors been able to co-operate successfully at the national, but also international level? Are there signs that the divisions between North and South are being overcome within the global labour movement? Second, the emphasis is on papers, which attempt to develop proposals for an alternative trade regime, which is driven by a labour perspective beyond both neoliberal free trade and mercantilist protectionism.

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Confessions of a ‘critical marketographer’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/09/2017 - 9:01pm in

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Last week I attended the 12th International Ethnography Symposium, at the University of Manchester, and had the pleasure in speaking to a group of fellow ‘marketographers’, whatever they may be. In fact, I think that was rather the point of the stream, organized by Daniel Neyland and Vera Ehrenstein (both of Goldsmiths University) and Dean Pierides (University of Manchester). My thanks to Dan, Vera and Dean for a great two days. In the meantime, here’s my talk:

When I mischievously titled my abstract ‘Confessions of a critical marketographer’ I had in mind, not so much Augustine, but those bawdy films of the 1970s with names like Confessions of a Window Cleaner, all suggestion and double entendre but no more than the occasional glimpse of flesh on camera. This, I thought, accurately represented the state of my ideas, or lack of them. But of course the confessional tale is one of the categories of ethnography highlighted by John van Maanen in Tales of the Field. It is, he says a response to the realist abstraction of earlier scientific ethnography, focusing attention on the fieldworker as a means of supporting authority. It is typically told from a shifting perspective and in a character building narrative, ending on an upbeat note: a justification, in fact, of the realist work that follows it, or more usually precedes Tales of the Fieldit, because in 1988 at least, one could not write a confession until after the realist account. Van Maanen goes on to introduce the Impressionist tale, a narrative account depending on interest, coherence and fidelity, offering impressionistic moments or fleeting glances of the subject at hand: the audience is invited to relive the tale with the teller, to work out what is going on as the narrative unfolds. It seems to me that this move, described by van Maanen in 1988, it is roughly where we are at when it comes to marketography: glimpses and impressions, stylishly drawn, are appearing alongside more realist tracts. If I had to give an example, I would site Muniesa and company’s achingly stylish oeuvre ‘Capitalization’. Though whether we Brexit Brits could get away with something so assuredly Parisian is another matter…Capitalization

Those of us working in the qualitative social sciences are witnessing a proliferation of –ographies: organisational ethnography, ethnography of science, net-nography, valueography, emotionography, even elfnography, if we can get it published. Now marketography. We marketographers have presented a diverse clutch of empirical studies united by common theoretical concerns: the constructed nature of markets and market knowledge (prices), theories of performativity and qualification, an emphasis on the material embeddedness of markets and market action, on expertise and on evaluation.

Yet if all that we have to say is that market designers work on markets, our theoretical agenda ‘simply loses its radicalism’ – as Christian Frankel and colleagues have pointed out. Like the substantivist ethnographers of the twentieth century, working to show the un-normalness of our taken-for-granteds, the task of marketography is to denaturalize and decentre the market: to show through careful investigation that what is often taken as natural occurrence requires hard work and much organizational effort. The substantivists railed against the existence of economic man. We who study markets know that economic man surely does exist: we must ask how (and what) he comes to be (Callon, 1998). In the configuration of economic man – or rather, the plurality of forms he takes – we find the pivotal moment of the political economy of high modernity and an entry point for all kinds of critical activity – an inherently political move.

Let me put that another way. We may share formal concerns, but we also, I suspect, have an intuitive set of provocations, things we regard as axiomatic to our academic work. Here are mine. First of all, the world is in a bit of a mess. Second, much of that mess can be traced back to markets. Give me a couple of pints and a bar stool and I will expand on that. Among present, learned company I should say that many of the market-based solutions in our polity cause more harm than they have prevented. Third, that markets in and of themselves are not a bad thing: in many ways they can be a positive and beneficial form of association. Adam Smith did know a thing or two after all. And fourth, crucially, that we marketographers are much better equipped than economists to understand the functioning of markets.

This last point needs unpacking. The sociologist of markets, the marketographer, rails against economic analysis of markets, with its assumptions and abstractions, precisely because she understands this analysis to be part of the culture, context, temporality and meaning in which many contemporary markets are situated. Going back to our intellectual roots, we recognise that economics is constitutive of markets: on the inside, not the outside. We recognise the social processes implicated in the construction of economic fact, we understand these facts for what they are, and we recognise the economic and political processes that give such facts primacy.

This presents us with a methodological problem. Ethnographers recognise that the culture in question is as much created by the writing, as it determines the writing – in other words ethnography itself is performative. So, while our main critical anchor is the claim that economics constructs the world, our methodological armoury is vulnerable to the same accusation, and comments of motes and beams are likely to start flying around.

And there is a second methodological conundrum. Scholars think of ethnography in terms of an outcome of research, ‘an anthropological concern to understand the human as a cultured being’ and then to write about that culture in a rich, insightful manner. And to do this, there should be some long-term participant observation, an attempt to get close to people and experience that culture.

But markets, despite our insistence upon their situated nature, are often ‘elsewhere’. What does it mean to participate in the market? We have Caitlin Zaloom’s participant observation of a trading floor, or Iain Hardie and company lurking in a hedge fund. But it seems to me that these are often epiphenomena of markets that remain tantalisingly aloof. Are these observations any more valid than, say, CF Helgesson and friends’ reading of textbooks on the organization of drug trials, or Shiona Chillas and my own meanderings through the organizational structure of dating sites?

Perhaps participant observation might mean involvement in a range of things that are not the fundamental transactions of the market. This position makes sense to us, as social scientists, for we intuitively know that markets are embedded in chains of socio-material interaction, policed by the mores of the community. A marketographer will recognize that the eventual transaction is the culmination, and transformation, of a long choreography of social and material action. We have worried a great deal about the ontological status of the market, but from a pragmatic, critical perspective, perhaps that’s a distraction, an academic debate (in a non-pejorative sense of the word). I’m happy to settle for the market as a placeholder around which actors, whether participants or academics, circulate.

Which takes me back to my central provocation, the claim that we marketographers can do markets better than economists. What does it mean to be a critically engaged marketographer? We can deconstruct economics: we can rail about its abstraction, its assumptions, its fetishisation of mathematical modelling and its general physics envy. But we cannot be so un-self-aware as to fail to notice that many of these criticisms will apply to our own work, especially as we if we seek to establish a universal grammar of market action equivalent to the toolbox of the economist. We do have our own toolbox, our emerging sensibilities. Borrowing Anne Cunliffe’s list of ethnographic concerns, marketography could be about: culture, context and temporality, sociality and meaning, thick description and imagination. All of which can be told as tales. I suggest that our knowledge is necessarily local and contingent, and that our critical interventions be talked into being through stakeholders and research participants.

I have spent the last 18 months conducting a marketography of two small company stock markets founded in London in the mid-1990s. So it is a history, and much of the research has been spent chatting to ageing men about what they did 20 years ago – there should be a special term for history dispensed by old men in armchairs, bufferography, or somesuch – and ploughing through documents, news reports, press releases and so forth. I am oddly sensitised to the field. I was there, in my mid-twenties, working as a stocks and shares journalist, and since the project began old friendships have been renewed and new ones made. I am being pulled slowly into the community. I have sat in bars with brokers; I attended the boozy wake of a legendary PR man; I am off to a grand dinner at the Dorchester next week. My political antennae have become sharper, and I am starting to recognise the divisions and struggles within the community. Yet I am an outsider, too. Although though many interviews started, ‘I am glad you used to work in the city, dear boy, because you’ll understand what I have to say,’ the words that follow still sounded strange. I have what Bud Goodall terms ‘perspective by incongruity’.

I wrote a narrative history, simply to get a handle on all this material. Late at night I put some half-thought conclusions onto the end. When I had finished the draft I circulated it among the interviewees, wondering if anyone would like to talk further. Many did and I spent a busy week in London meeting my sources. I found this surprising. I was surprised that a retired businessman worth many tens of millions of pounds would take time to plough through my report and pick up on small points; that senior executives would take the time to gently persuade me that my emphasis was wrong, or that I was mistaken on key points. In fact, I was surprised that anyone gave a damn. I should not have been. Paraphrasing van Maanen’s opening line, marketographic work carries serious intellectual and moral responsibilities, for the images of others inscribed in writing are most assuredly not neutral.

It was clear that certain individuals saw me as a means to a particular end; the hastily written conclusions turned up at the London Stock Exchange at the end of a long email string, despite the fact that I had specifically requested that the document should not be circulated. In fact, I am publishing a finished narrative report, in part to engage the practice community and in part to take back control of the draft material.

The recommendation-conclusions with which I have fronted up this report might seem banal to you and me. I point out that the shape of these markets is embedded in particular social and organisational cultures and material path dependencies, for example, or that relying on social networks formed in the pre-Big Bang era as the main regulatory mechanism has become problematic three decades on. Yet, these claims seem to carry some weight, precisely because my observations are contextually specific and situated. I’m talking about their world in ways that participants find novel and illuminating. I also have to accept that much of the intellectual and analytic purchase of my marketographic writing does come from its institutional setting and intellectual context; I’m a reader at the University of St Andrews, and that in itself seems to provoke, in London at least, a particular and peculiar set of cultural semiotics.

What could it mean to be critical here? It strikes me that these markets, or others like them, have some potential as ‘critical performativity engines’, in terms of encouraging broad economic participation and shareholder democracy in a meaningful sense. They provide money, at risk, for firms that make and sell things, employ people, pay taxes, and so forth. In speaking well of these markets there is an implied critique of derivatives, and hedge funds, and all things high finance. It is surely as interesting to speak well of something good as it is to critique something rotten, though goodness, this needs doing too. Especially if speaking, or writing, has a performative effect, producing by power of speech alone, a world where things are – not could be, but are – a little bit different.

Still, I am troubled as to what I wish to achieve, or, rather, what I feel I can say. The great strength of economics over the last fifty years that it has been able to provide the ‘real world’ with positive ‘answers’ – scare quotes round both! – from free markets as the answer to totalitarianism, to nudges and diagnoses of irrationality as means of managing the atavistic biases of the great unwashed. I find myself talking about entrepreneurial ecosystems, but I suspect that’s too easy: a topic that demands the flamboyance of Fabian and colleagues if it’s not to slip to econ-lite prescriptions.

What can I say? What do I know? Let me give a small example, Over the last few years, my interest as a management scholar has fastened on the moral codes embedded in and performed by market structures: from neo-Darwinian incentive schemes to rational calculative romances, for example. In the current project it is quite clear that different kinds of market mechanisms bring into being different ethics of office, as Weber might say. In fact, conflicts between these rival ethics are one of the great sources of strife and change within the sector. The finding came strongly from the data, with many individuals talking about their responsibilities and moral codes: we did what was right for the market, says one, at the same time criticising the actions of another, who subsequently gave me a long justification in a frame of reference that any MBA would recognise.

Here’s the irony. When I began to draft this present talk, I realized that I had not included the finding in my summary. Perhaps it didn’t feel applied enough, or useful enough. In other words, it failed my criteria for utility in terms of what I might say. But that’s absurd, because the things I judge as useful are most likely things that the practitioners know far better than me already; the sole value I can add is by pointing out things to those in the market that they might never otherwise have seen. In this case because they have never read Science as a Vocation.

I propose that the task of the critical marketographer is not to know better, in the critical sense of somehow avoiding collective blindness to structures of dominion and fetishisation. Instead, it is to rework the situated knowledge of practitioners into critically-mined market innovations: I choose ethnographic hubris over critical hubris. How best should we do this? Most of all, how might we advance our long term aim as recasting markets as engines of performativity, vehicles to change the world in the way that we want? I do not know. I suspect – and this is my confession – there are no answers as such, that there is no grammar or lexicon of market action that we marketographers can peddle. Marketographers need to remain on the outside, peering through the steamed-up glass like the window-cleaner in these seventies films. The best we can do is offer a mirror to practitioners, painting impressionist pieces illuminated by our reservoir of theories. To open up discussion, to cast our bread upon the water – as the saying goes – and to see what comes back in return.

 

SPAIN: The Green European Foundation will host a Workshop about Basic Income on September 9.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/09/2017 - 5:00pm in

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The Green European Foundation will host a workshop about Basic Income during the upcoming 9th Edition of Univerde, a University Summer program that is one of the largest forums for debate on ecology and politics in Spain. Univerde is organized by the Green European Foundation together with the EQUO foundation with support from the political party Los Verdes/ALE and the

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Toby Rogers, ‘The Political Economy of Autism’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/08/2017 - 9:32am in

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2017 Political Economy Seminar Series

Toby Rogers (University of Sydney), ‘The Political Economy of Autism’

Date: Thursday 7 September 2017

Time: 4:00pm-5.30pm

Location: Merewether Seminar Room 498, University of Sydney

Abstract: Autism is a global epidemic. An estimated 1 in 40 children in Australia, 1 in 64 children in the U.K., and 1 in 45 children in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder. This is an enormous increase from the first known autism prevalence study in the U.S. in 1970, which established an autism prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000. Several studies have shown that changes in diagnostic criteria account for only a small fraction of the increased prevalence. The economic impacts of this epidemic are enormous. A 2014 study from the London School of Economics shows that autism spectrum disorders currently cost the U.K. more than heart disease, cancer, and stroke combined. A study from U.C. Davis estimates that autism cost the U.S. $268 billion (1.5% of GDP) in 2015; it also projects that if autism continues to increase at its current rate, autism will cost the U.S. over $1 trillion (3.6% of GDP) in 2025. At the same time, several groups of leading doctors and epidemiologists including Project TENDR, the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment have all published statements declaring that toxicants in the environment are contributing to rising autism prevalence. Yet governments have thus far failed to ban or restrict the substances that have been implicated. Given the size of the problem and the growing evidence about factors that increase the risk of developing autism, what explains why public health authorities, thus far, have failed to engage in autism prevention strategies? This paper will also explore the question of what is to be done?

About the speaker:  Toby Rogers is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney. Prior to coming to Australia Toby worked for twenty years for a variety of progressive non-profit advocacy groups in the U.S., including the successful campaign for LGBT marriage equality in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley where he was a graduate student instructor and researcher for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Contact: Gareth Bryant, gareth.bryant@sydney.edu.au

Upcoming seminars: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/political_economy/about/seminars/seminar_series.shtml

All welcome!

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The Netherlands: ‘Free Money’ at Studium Generale Utrecht University, October 25, 2017

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/08/2017 - 1:07am in

Rutger Bregman and Inge Robeyns comment on the social assistance experiments.

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