What, when & where
Imaginaries of contemporary capitalism
Im@ago. A Journal of the Social Imaginary, n.16 (December 2020)
Editors: Vincenzo Mele / Antonio Tramontana
At least since the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007, the term “capitalism” has once again emerged in the public, scientific and media debate. In the field of the social sciences, there was the need to return to thinking again about “capitalism” after the words of reference had been for years “postmodern”, “complexity” and “globalization. Even Socialism – the revolutionary or reformist alternative to capitalism at least up to the fall of the Berlin wall in the 1989 – re-emerged timidly in the political debate in USA. This change raises scientific, political, and cultural questions. Is capitalism still a useful concept for analyzing the social changes and the economic and symbolic processes we are going through? In which way the recent “material” transformations are symbolically represented in the popular culture and mass products?
From a scientific point of view, the return of reflection on capitalism has the advantage to reconnecting – revisiting it – the reflection of the classics, avoiding the not always fruitful introduction of a new often pleonastic and misleading terminology. According to the classic and contemporary authors of sociology, capitalism and its link with the imaginary – understood in a broad sense as a set of symbolic representations of material reality – is out of the question. It is possible to think about the representations of the collective consciousness in Durkheim, the concept of the “spirit of the capitalism” (Geist des Kapitalismus) in Weber, the concept of commodity fetishism (or more generally of “ideology” as “socially necessary false conscience”) or the finish in consumption in Marx, to the concept of “money” in Simmel (understood as a symbolic form of the Modernity). Not all Classics of sociology theorize the concept of “capitalism” (some of them prefer to say “division of labour” or “monetary economy”, and this lexical and conceptual choice is obviously not random and of no relevance in their theoretical elaboration), but in all of them there is an analysis of the symbolic dimension, consequent and/or coexisting, when not primary, with respect to the modern economic dimension. In all cases – with significant differences in concept, cultural tradition and historical context- is questioned the relationship between the body and its representation, the sphere of the “physical-material environment” and the “imaginary” sphere, the realm of necessity and freedom.
The theme “imaginaries of contemporary capitalism” is therefore topical. On the basis of these points of reflection, the next issue of im@go aims to publish both theoretical and empirical analysis that make an original contribution to the knowledge of the images, symbols and cultures of contemporary capitalism:
Themes of possible interest:
– Rethinking the sociology of the imaginary/capitalism through the classics;
– Rethinking the relationship between economics and the imaginary from a theoretical point of view;
– Analysis of the contemporary cultural industry (television series, films, literature);
– Analysis of contemporary material culture (objects, fashion, design);
– Imaginary as a place of domination and critical theory of capitalism;
– Is the concept of capitalism still useful today? How can the perspective of sociology of the imaginary contribute to a sociological theory of capitalism?
Deadline & how to apply
The proposals can be submitted in Italian, English, French and Spanish. They must be accompanied by a short abstract (max 100 words) and a short biographical note (max 50 words) and sent simultaneously to: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for the submission: 30th March 2020
Notification of acceptance: 15th April 2020
Notification of reviews: 25th May 2020
Revised peer- reviews papers to the editors: Date on 27th July 2020
Publication: December 2020