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A Crisis AND A Trick

February 18, 2012 by and tagged , , , , ,

One of my Twitter followers pointed me to this documentary:

It is quite nice, for a change, to listen to social scientists that are neither psychologists nor economists discuss the current crisis. And I would argue that only sociologists are properly equipped to discuss social movements as the one that have been taking emerging all over the world.

It is indeed interesting to listen to Craig Calhoun, John B. Thompson or Michel Wievorka discuss the crisis and offer some sociological insights on the subject. I was surprised to not see Richard Sennett or Saskia Sassen. After all, they are the sociological power couple on this.

But the real star of this film is Manuel Castells, who perceived before anyone else the importance of the Indignados that sparked massive protests against austerity all over Europe as various institutions imposed the 2.0 version of structural adjustment programs, with the same results as the version 1.0 imposed on developing countries 30 years ago.

Castells is a thinker as important as Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman, with broader sociological insights than strictly economics. He is my sociologist of the semester, whose Information Age trilogy certainly is on a par with most important sociological works, such as Max Weber’s Economy and Society.

This is why I think could have gained from using more of, and singling out, Castells in order to have a tighter focus. The film delineates a lot of threads but leaves a lot of loose ends. There should have been more precise and detailed analysis of the movements themselves rather than what sparked them. The story of the causes has already been told. The analysis of social movements, using the tools of sociology, still needs to be propagated far and wide.

I really liked the film but would consider it a first draft that is promising but needs some improvements.

Posted in Globalization, Media, Power, Social Change, Social Movements, Sociology | 1 Comment »



One Response to “A Crisis AND A Trick”

  1.   mrwonkish Says:

    Hopefully their book goes into more depth. The documentary is rather superficial, touching only the basic building blocks of the crisis (the known narrative). Although it was a good first step, a first building block.

    Aftermath: The Cultures of the Economic Crisis (Hardback, Manuel Castells)

    The crisis of global capitalism that has unfolded since 2008 is more than an economic crisis. It is structural and multidimensional. The sequence of events that have taken place in its aftermath show that we are entering a world that is very different from the social and economic conditions that characterized the rise of global, informational capitalism in the preceding three decades. The policies and strategies that intended to manage the crisis-with mixed results depending on the country-may usher in a distinctly different economic and institutional system, as the New Deal, the construction of the European Welfare State, and the Bretton Woods global financial architecture all gave rise to a new form of capitalism in the aftermath of the 1930s Depression, and World War II. This volume examines the cultures and institutions at the root of the crisis, as well as the conflicts and debates that lead to a new social landscape, including the rise of alternative economic cultures expressed in the social movements occupying Wall Street. The book presents the results of a shared project of reflection by an interdisciplinary group of researchers from around the world. It contends that there is no quick fix to the current financial and political system. Life beyond the crisis requires a transformation of the mindset that led to bankruptcy and despair, and to economies and societies based on an unsustainable model of speculative finance and political irresponsibility. The book explains why and explores the contours of the world emerging in the aftermath of the crisis

    http://www.mrwonkish.nl/leestip-aftermath-the-cultures-of-the-economic-crisis-hardback-manuel-castells

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