Research Projects:
Economic sociology and political economy

Research Group: The Power of the Future. Conditions of Political Possibility for a Post-Crisis Era

Jenny Andersson

Capitalist societies are traversing multiple forms of crises: these are not just financial but ecological, social and cultural. Likely, these crises are not to be thought of as crises at all, but as elements of inherent instability, in which the role of politics becomes confined to seeking, through a variety of means, the stabilisation and regulation of profound unsustainability. The research group seeks to understand how contemporary societies manage social futures, how futures are actively created, and with what consequences for the ability to envision change and imagine alternative possibilities.

It is constructed around two main research themes:

  • First, it seeks to examine the role played by forecasts and scenarios as forms of stabilisations of potentially unstable sets of expectations in a wide range of fields, ranging from financial markets to environmental governance and European crisis management. The research group will investigate how such forms of prediction contribute to the extending of key forms of economic interests over time, and how, in doing so, they also contribute to displace or postpone forms of social conflict from the present to the future.

  • Second, it seeks to explore the future as a set of contradictions rooted in the complex processes of disintegration and fragmentation in European societies since the period of the 1970s and after. By bringing in an historical perspective, and social historians, it wants to understand the shifting boundaries between structural factors and forms of agency and the creation of a set of new conditions for political action in this period. This includes studying new definitions of Left and Right politics, emergent versions of populism and protest, and how austerity politics redefine the space for possible socioeconomic alternatives on both the national and European level.

Research Group: Financialization, Transformation of
Labor Markets, and Flourishing Inequality

Olivier Godechot

Financialization is traditionally viewed as a major factor of instability, with each successive financial crisis (1987, 1998, 2002, 2008) increasingly affecting the global economy, economic growth, and, ultimately, social cohesion.

More recently, new types of political movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, have also denounced finance’s direct impact on overall inequality. An insightful way to understand the contours, causes, and consequences of financialization – a trend that remains difficult to grasp – is to study the financial labor market. In order to address these key issues, the research group will explore the following points:

  • how patterns of mobility in financial labor markets shape broader inequalities, with a special emphasis on collective moves that are typical in finance and beyond in the service-to-business sector;

  • a comparison of compensation mechanisms for two very highly paid types of professionals, financial operatives and CEOs, with a special focus on the role of interpersonal networks in each case;

  • a comparative account of the role of finance in the dynamics of inequality based on the comparison of the most detailed wage databases in France, the UK, and the US.
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