Department of Political Economy Seminar Series

Semester 1, 2015

26 February 2015 - 4 - 5.30pm
Presenter/Affiliation: Professor Stuart Elden
Warwick University
Title: Foucault’s Third Course on Governmentality
Abstract:
Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]


12 March 2015 - 4 - 5.30pm
Presenter/Affiliation: Dr Tim Anderson
University of Sydney
Title: From Havana to Quito: understanding economic reform in Cuba and Ecuador
Abstract: This paper considers the persuasive force of early impressions of other cultures, and the problems similar rapid impressions may pose for political economic analysis. Cuba and Ecuador are countries involved in substantial economic change yet, despite close ties between the two and some important common history, the processes of reform are quite different. Those differences are clearly conditioned by their distinct histories, yet political and economic modernism often misses that. One result is that processes of change are often poorly characterised and important misconceptions creep in. Through these two examples this paper argues that, when considering political economic change in other cultures, we should have regard to sufficient detail of their contingent histories and to the key ideas developed in relation to those histories. It also characterises the key features of reform in Cuba and Ecuador, noting some common misconceptions as well as achievements and challenges.
Click here to download the PowerPoint Slide in PDF
Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]


26 March 2015 - 4 - 5.30pm
Presenter/Affiliation: Dr Ben Spies-Butcher
Macquarie University
Title: Can Care Work Help Us Change Track? Revisiting the post-industrial thesis and comparative welfare analysis
Abstract: The organization and provision of care work has been transformed in the transition to a post-industrial economy. This has particular implications for the organization of the welfare state and the division between public and private provision. While acknowledging the importance of care to understandings of welfare, Esping-Andersen earlier reaffirmed his ‘three-worlds’ categorization of advanced economies, arguing differences between national economic institutions remained relatively stable over time. This article re-visits Esping-Andersen’s analysis to examine how the growing economic importance of paid care may contribute to a broader reshaping of economic institutions, particularly in liberal welfare regimes. Citing evidence from across the advanced Anglo Saxon countries, but particularly Australia, it argues that the incorporation of care into markets poses particular challenges, which may allow for a greater level of political contestation, and thus for economies to transition between ‘worlds’. This analysis places care at the centre of important developments in the broader economy, and as a core concern of economic policy makers.
Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]


16 April 2015 - 4 - 5.30pm
Presenter/Affiliation: Associate Professor Melinda Cooper
University of Sydney
Title: Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism
Abstract: As Governor of California, Ronald Reagan oversaw one of the earliest state-level attempts to reform welfare. Declaring that “intact, self-reliant families are the best antipoverty insurance ever devised,” Reagan implemented a series of welfare to work and family promotion policies that would later inspire Clinton’s efforts to “end welfare as we know it.” He was also amongst the first to revive the old “filial obligation” laws that made family members responsible for the welfare of the indigent under the Elizabethan poor laws. In the early 1970s, Reagan’s social policy was to the right of President Nixon, who was engaged in an expansion of the family wage. By the end of the decade, his particular combination of neoliberal and neoconservative perspectives had become the dominant response to stagflation.

Taking Reagan’s trajectory from state to federal government as a guide, this paper enquires into the role of family values politics in the rise of the new right. It argues that family values were not a peripheral feature of the politico-economic events of the period but are key to understanding the peculiar alliance of neoliberal and neoconservative tendencies that energized the Reagan revolution. The paper questions the now common-sense assumption that the rise of the new right can be understood as an unmediated reaction against the New Deal welfare state. Instead, it will be argued that neoliberalism and neoconservatism in their mature forms crystallized in response to leftist social movements that were themselves challenging the gendered and racial boundaries of the welfare state, as embodied in the family wage. The new right absorbed the leftist critique of the family wage, but reversed its terms: where the new left said no to normativity and yes to redistribution; the new right said yes to family values, and no to redistribution. In specific terms, the new right sought to replace the redistributive family values of the Fordist social wage with a renewed politics of family responsibility, inspired by an older poor law tradition of private family values. It is this common commitment to family responsibility that explains the otherwise surprising alliance between neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

Click here to download the flyer

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]


30 April 2015 - 4 - 5.30pm
Presenter/Affiliation: Phillip Roberts
University of Sydney
Title: The Brazilian Landless Workers Movement: From Agrarian Reform to Post-Neoliberalism
Abstract: The Landless Workers Movement of Brazil (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST) has been one of the most successful working class organizations in the struggle against neoliberalism. Under the banner of demands for agrarian reform, land occupations by the MST have enabled over a million of Brazil's poorest to access land and establish farms. The movement itself has placed these victories in a broader context of the struggle for social transformation and an end to capitalism itself. However, Brazil has undergone significant changes under successive Workers Party presidencies. A new policy platform focused on neo-developmentalist measures has been installed in order to address the consequences of Brazil's neoliberal turn after 1990. The resultant shifts in the nature of class struggle posed by these changes may also have significant impacts for the MST, as Brazil embarks on a post-neoliberal turn. This presentation therefore uses a theoretical framework developed from the work of Antonio Gramsci to examine the nature of the changes to Brazil's political economy, form of state and class structure, before examining the status of the MST struggle against capitalist hegemony through one of its major projects. By examining the role of agroecological food production on MST settlements, I will evaluate whether the Landless Workers Movement has genuine potential to be a counter-hegemonic force in this new era.

Click here to download the flyer

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]


28 May 2015 - 4 - 5.30pm
Presenter/Affiliation: Peter Thomas
Brunel University
Title: Revolutions, Passive and Permanent
Abstract: This paper will explore similarities and divergences between the notions of passive and permanent revolution in the work of Antonio Gramsci and Leon Trotsky. Although Gramsci himself explicitly rejected Trotsky's notion of permanent revolution as a reversion to a strategy of 'war of movement', he also claimed that his development of the theory of hegemony could be regarded as a contemporary form of Marx and Engels's notion of the 'Revolution in Permanence'. The paper will analyse the similarities and differences of the two seemingly divergent claims to inherit a central perspective of the classical Marxist tradition, and will argue that thinking the concepts of passive and permanent revolution together enables us to clarify and to make explicit dimensions that remain underdeveloped in each theorist's respective work.
Venue: New Law Seminar Room 020, F10 [map]