Research Seminar Series


6.5.2019 - Marguerite Mendell: The Social and Solidarity Economy. A citizen based countermovement?

Monday, May 6, 2019, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

Comments by Ruth Simsa, WU Vienna (tbc) and Roland Atzmüller, JKU Linz (tbc)

Karl Polanyi did not live long enough to witness the return of unbridled market liberalism and the discrediting of the post-war compromise, the role of the state and organized labour in many parts of the world. Over the last decades, neoliberal globalization has spread commodification and marketization to diverse spheres of social life and social ecology. Is the social and solidarity economy a forceful countermovement or is it only accommodating the dominant paradigm? The lectures describes recent developments in the sector and reflects on strategies of strengthening agency, institutions and structures that foster social justice, equity and living in harmony with nature, best achieved through working collectively.

Marguerite Mendell is the Director of the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy Montreal which hosts the Karl Polanyi archive. She is a key protagonist of research and discussions referring to Karl Polanyi’s work and a renown scholar in the field of the social and solidarity economy. Many awards show the extraordinary relevance of her work: Member, Order of Canada; Officer, Order of Québec; laureate Prix Québec, Marie-Andrée Bertrand and Prix ACFAS, Pierre Dansereaux. His latest/most important contributions include “Commoning and the Commons - Alternatives to a Market Society” in Michael Brie and Thomas Clausberger, (eds.), Karl Polanyi's Vision of Socialist Transformation. Montreal, Black Rose Books, 2018; "Democratizing Capital: Social and Solidarity Finance in Quebec" in Ngai Pun, Ben Hok-bun Ku, Hairong Yan, Anita Koo (eds.), Social Economy in China and the World. London, Routledge, 2015;

3.5.2019 - Dani Rodrik: Karl Polanyi and Globalization´s Wrong Turn

May 3rd, 2019, Radiokulturhaus, Argentinierstraße 30A, 1040 Vienna

Comments by Kari Polanyi Levitt, Mc Gill University/Montreal and Ayse Bugra, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

Globalization took a wrong turn when it overlooked Polanyi’s central insight that markets need to be embedded in institutions, both for effectiveness and legitimacy. The brief period of Bretton Woods-style globalization in the decades following World War II was more Polanyiesque in so far it did not question the centrality of national economic management and regulation. Constructing a viable globalization will require going back to that central insight, though the results are unlikely to look much like the Bretton Woods regime.

Dani Rodrik is an economist whose research covers globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy. He is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was previously the Albert O. Hirschman Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2013-2015). Professor Rodrik is currently President-Elect of the International Economic Association. His newest book is Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (2017).

29.4.2019 - Jamie Peck: Whatever happened to uneven development?

Monday, April 29, 2019, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

Comments by Jürgen Essletzbichler, WU Vienna, and Karin Fischer, JKU Linz (tbc)

Uneven development has long been part of the lexicon in political economy and heterodox economic studies, a signifier of a cluster of received (if often loosely specified) understandings relating to geographical inequality, core-periphery relations, unequal exchange, and global interdependency. The terminology of uneven development enjoyed its widest currency during the 1970s and 1980s, a time when the tectonic plates of globalizing capitalism seemed to be moving underfoot. In the decades since, the question of uneven development—as a locus for active theorization—has waned somewhat, even as geographical transformations in the world economy have, if anything, intensified. It has receded, one might say, into the background. The presentation will outline a conjunctural approach to the analysis of capitalist transformations and recombinant development models, drawing particularly on insights from the work of Karl Polanyi and Doreen Massey.

  Jamie Peck is Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy, Distinguished University Scholar, and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. His recent publications include Doreen Massey: critical dialogues, edited with Marion Werner, Rebecca Lave and Brett Christophers (Agenda, 2018) and Offshore: exploring the worlds of global outsourcing (Oxford, 2017).

4.4.2019 - Éric Pineault: A Deeper Treadmill : a theory of capitalist growth in the Great Acceleration

Presentation by Éric Pineault, Professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Quebéc in Montréal, Canada

Time and Place:Thursday 4 April – 6 p.m. D4.0.144 Seminarroom

The I=PAT equation proposed by Ehrlich and Holdren in the 1970’s to capture the factors that provoke environmental degradation continues to be today a dominant framework in the environmental sciences. In his seminal “Environment and Society” Schnaiberg critically examined the now classic equation, his basic argument was that in and of itself I=PAT was more descriptive then analytical. Furthermore, he showed that behind each factor was a set of implicit sociological, demographic and economic presuppositions and a priori’s which he set out to criticize and finally that the equation as presented, masked important interdependencies between each factor. He developed the “Treadmill of production” model of growth as an alternative theory that explained the evolution of the I=PAT factors through the development of capitalist social relations of production (T), consumption (A), and culture and class politics of advanced capitalist society (P). There are serious limitations in Schnaiberg’s model, some will be highlighted, but we have retained overall the structure of his analytical strategy in the construction of an argument on the factors that drove capitalist growth during the Great Acceleration. The ‘Deep Treadmill” model we will present proposes an analysis of these specific growth dynamics. Influenced by the Kaleckian and monopoly capital school of political economy this approach considers economic and material growth as the products of a constraint of surplus « absorption» instead of surplus production, for this school, advanced capitalism is characterized by a state of over-accumulation, and thus surplus absorption takes the form of waste and historically high throughput rates through sustained overconsumption. We shall critically assess the concept of economic surplus used in the original argument and propose a revision based on the insights of metabolic analysis and biophysical economics all the while outlining how the capitalist institutions and metabolic structures mediate each other. We will also revisit Schnaiberg’s concept of “Growth coalitions” to analyze how these mechanisms are sustained at the societal level by class structure. The result will be a model of the specifically capitalist growth imperative of modern economies and societies.

Éric Pineault is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Quebéc in Montréal, Canada. Pineault’s research focuses on the growth dynamics of advanced capitalism, extractive economies, the issue of ecological transition and degrowth as well as the general macroeconomic and social transformations of advanced capitalism. He is a member of the research Collective for the analysis of the Financialization of Advanced Capitalism (CAFCA) and Senior Fellow at the “Postgrowth societies“ College of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, where he is currently writing a book on the Social Ecology of Capital.


16-17 May 2018, WU Vienna

Critical Perspectives on ‘Sustainable Work’ and ‘Postwork’

Venue: WU, Building D4, 3rd floor, room 106 (D4.3.106) and

            WU, Building TC, TC.0.03 (Ground Floor)

Find here the detailed program.

8. Mai 2018 Arbeiterkammer Wien

Kari Polanyi Levitt (McGill University, Montreal, Kanada)

Karl Polanyi und die sozioökonomische Transformation im 21. Jahrhundert


8. Februar 2017, 19 Uhr Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Festsaal 1 (2., Welthandelsplatz 1, Gebäude L)

Hartmut Rosa

Wie viel Zeit braucht ein gutes Leben?