Lecture 2: Overview

NOTE: These notes can be read in conjunction with the pdf of the lecture powerpoint slides.

In this lecture, I wanted to cover four main concepts that I think are important to TBTE:

1. Capitalocentrism. This concept (first introduced in J.K. Gibson-Graham’s The End of Capitalism (as we knew it): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy and revisited in A Postcapitalist Politics) is an essential underpinning of TBTE (Take Back the Economy) (pages 1 to 2 of slides). I think it’s important to point out how so such much of our thinking is captured by the idea that “the economy” – capitalism. We do not explicitly cover this in TBTE as we wanted to “move on” to talk about how people are building community economies that prioritise the wellbeing of people and the planet. But I think it is important to cover when teaching TBTE as it helps to bring into focus what’s novel about the approach we take in TBTE.

In this section of the lecture I wanted to give practical examples of this type of thinking so used an extract of Steffen Böhm’s review of TBTE (from the journal Sociology, 2014) and an interview with David Harvey on the Occupy Movement and how he sees in it the potential for a “comprehensive social movement” that might be able to resist capitalism.

2.  The antidote (if you like) to capitalocentrism is the diverse economy, captured in both the (in)famous iceberg and an elaborated table which we introduce in TBTE. In the lecture I explain how this is a means of both shrinking capitalism (or if like me you’re trained in Steve Resnick and Richard Wolff’s anti-essentialist Marxian thinking, it’s a way of replacing capitalism with the idea of a capitalist class process which pertains to capitalist enterprises, while leaving “the economy” open to all sorts of class processes – which is I guess why I cringe whenever I hear capitalism talked about as if it is a real thing, big breath!) and enabling space for other sorts of economic activity (and therefore other types of economic politics) (pages 2 to 3 of slides).

At this point in the lecture we had a look at some examples of the diverse economy (drawing from the book and from other work where we’ve used the diverse economy table), and we did an exercise in which the students worked in pairs to complete “The Diverse Economy of …”. I’ve included the finished tables.

3. The next step is to move from the diverse to the community economy to show how economic diversity can be mobilised to build economies that respond to a range of ethical concerns (page 3 of slides).
4. Finally, there is an understanding of the politics of research, in this case the idea that research (and writing) is a performative practice that can help bring into being not just new worlds, but the type of worlds we actually might actually want to live in and be a part of! In other contexts, we have written about what is means to conduct practical research in this mode, e.g. Cameron 2011, Cameron and Hicks 2014; Cameron and Wright 2014; Cameron, Gibson and Hill 2014; Gibson-Graham 2008; Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2010. However, it’s just as much a part of how we have written TBTE, drawing on the three sorts of politics identified in the introduction to A Postcapitalist Politics: a politics of language, a politics of the subject and a politics of collective action. As I elaborate in the slides (pages 3 to 5 of slides) these types of politics have heavily informed how we have written and structured TBTE.