Prof. Erik Olin Wright: Understanding Class

16 June 2011

Prof. Erik Olin Wright argues that although the Marxist tradition is a valuablebodyof ideas because it successfully identifies real mechanisms that matter for a wide range of important problems, this does not mean it has a monopoly on the capacity to identify such mechanisms.

In practice, sociological research by Marxists should combine the distinctive Marxist-identified mechanisms with whatever other causal processes seem pertinent to the explanatory task at hand. What might be called a 'pragmatist realism' has replaced the 'grand battle of paradigms'. In this seminar, Prof. Wright will focus on three clusters of causal processes relevant to class analysis, each associated with a different strand of sociological theory.

Erik Olin Wright is Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His research has mainly concerned comparative class analysis and problems of rethinking the foundations of contemporary Marxist theory.

He has published more than 10 books, including Reconstructing Marxism: essays on Explanation and the Theory of History, with Elliott Sober and Andrew Levine (Verso, 1992), Interrogating Inequality (London: Verso, 1994), Class Counts: Comparative Studies in Class Analysis (Cambridge University Press, 1997, 2000), and recently American Society: how it really works, with Joel Rogers (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010).

Time: 5.30pm - 7pm

Location: Rm 310, Old Teachers' College, China Studies Centre, the University of Sydney

Cost: Free