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Albena Azmanova talk

Wednesday 17 March 2021, 12-1.30pm

Albena Azmanova of the University of Kent in Brussels, and a member of our International Advisory Network, presents her book Capitalism on Edge: How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia (Columbia University Press, 2020). The talk is part of the general SSP School research seminar series.

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Capitalism on Edge puts precarity at the root of such social pathologies as the rise of populism and the inability of liberal democracies to effectively manage crises. It develops one of the first methodologies of critical theory in an algorithm that proceeds as articulating the normative generality behind the apparent singularity of conflicting grievances and tracing their origins to capitalism’s structural contradictions. Rather than focusing on distributive aspects of social justice (inequality) Azmanova scrutinizes the systemic dynamics of contemporary capitalism, which leads her to discern what she describes as a transformation of neoliberal capitalism into a novel form -- ‘precarity capitalism’ marked by political, economic and psychological insecurity that afflicts the 99 per cent across class, occupation, and income levels. This raises the stakes for progressive politics: fighting precarity, not just inequality, becomes a priority. A new path of reform opens: replacing the growth-and-redistribution formula with fighting precarity renders social justice compatible with environmental justice. This allows radical progressive change without the crutch of crisis, revolution or utopia.

The U.S. economist James Galbraith has call Capitalism on Edge ‘the big-think book of our time’ (interview, Project Syndicate); book review here: “The Pandemic and Capitalism,” Democracy journal (8/04/2020)

Commentaries by Robert Reich, Claus Offe, Kalypso Nicolaidis, John Judis and others:

Albena Azmanova is a scholar, author and political commentator who has written extensively on the transformation of capitalism and the rise of new ideologies, social conflict, judgment and justice, rule of law and democratic transitions.  She is currently Associate Professor in Political and Social Thought at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies, and has held academic positions at the New School for Social Research in New York, Sciences Po. Paris, Harvard University, and the University of California Berkeley. Dr Azmanova has worked as a policy advisor for a number of international organisations, most recently, as a member of the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality to the European Parliament.