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Against the Tyranny of the Market

June 5, 2010

I just finished Pierre Bourdieu’s two volume Against the Tyranny of the Market. The first one is called Acts of Resistance and the second is called Firing Back.

Most of it won’t be new to those familiar with critiques of capital, but I still loved both of them and recommend them wholeheartedly to anyone interested in what Bourdieu might say about the “free market” and “globalization.”

Here are some sample quotations:

Casualization of employment is part of a mode of domination of a new kind, based on the creation of a generalized and permanent state of insecurity aimed at forcing workers into submission, into the acceptance of exploitation. To characterize this mode of domination, which, although in its effects it closely resembles the wild capitalism of the early days, is entirely unprecedented, a speaker here proposed the very appropriate and expressive concept of flexploitation. The word evokes very well this rational management of insecurity which, especially through the concerted manipulation of the space of production, sets up competition between the workers of the countries with the greatest social gains and the best organized union resistance … and the workers of the socially least advanced countries, and so breaks resistance and obtains obedience and submission, through apparently natural mechanisms which thus serve as their own justification.

Economic globalization is not a mechanical effect of the laws of technology or the economy but the product of a policy implemented by a set of agents and institutions, and the application of rules deliberately created for specific ends …. In other words, the “global market” is a political creation.

The concentration of finance capital in the pension funds and mutual funds that attract and manage collective savings enables the transstate managers of those savings to impose onto firms, in the name of shareholder interests, demands for financial profitability that gradually divert and direct their strategies. … The increased freedom to invest and, perhaps more crucially, to divest capital so as to obtain the highest financial profitability promotes the mobility of capital and the generalized delocalization of industrial or banking enterprises. … [T]he formal cosmopolitanism in which that integration is draped leaves citizens powerless in the face of the transnational economic and financial powers.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2010 9:19 pm

    few years ago, I was doing my honours thesis on a Bourdieu-sian approach to economic theory and having read his big works (Distinction, Reproduction, Outline of a Theoryof Practice, State Nobility and Homo Academicus), I though I had the guy sussed out. Then 5 weeks before the submission date when I was sexing things up, someone from the department dropped these two pamphlet-sized babies on my desk… and it just threw me way off! It really gives a different angle on Bourdieu who up to that point, seemed to be pretty skeptical of ‘resistance’ discourses.

  2. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    June 6, 2010 9:54 am

    Haha, that sucks!! Did your advisors expect you to rewrite it completely? Or did they let you call it “the early Bourdieu”?

  3. June 6, 2010 11:07 am

    “Flexploitation” is pretty handy.

    Did you know there’s a doc on Bourdieu?

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    June 6, 2010 1:50 pm

    I did not; I should check it out!


  1. Against the Tyranny of the Market « Missives from Marx | World Politics

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