Appel à contribution: “Economic Life: From the Economy to the Economical?”

[informations issues du site Calenda]

Without living beings there would be hardly no economy. The crucial question is, however, how to conceptualize the relationship between different ways of comprehending life and different ways of understanding the economy. There seems to be at least two main possibilities, which we would like to discuss and confront with each other in this workshop.

Albeit in very different ways, major social thinkers of the 19th and 20th century – from Hegel to Marx, from Simmel to Habermas – tend to consider the relationship between life and economy as a foundational and, at the same time, an antagonistic one. Along these lines, the modern economy is generally regarded as an autonomous domain operating on its own terms, and its critique focuses on blaming the economy for “damaging” life in one way or another. The economy has thus been criticized for alienating and exploiting human life (Karl Marx), for constraining human beings to act in the mode of instrumental rationality (Max Weber), for colonizing the human lifeworld (Jürgen Habermas) or for bringing about social pathologies and misdevelopments (Axel Honneth). In recent years, however, several thinkers have cast doubt on the assumption that there is such thing as “the economy”. Authors as diverse as Bruno Latour, Michel Callon, Maurizio Lazzarato, Theodore Schatzki and Timothy Mitchell have suggested to conceptualize the relationship between life and the economy in a more immanent manner, thus indicating a possible replacement of the idea of “the economy” by the notion of “the economical”. In this perspective, the realm of economic relations is not regarded as a system standing above life, but as a reality performed and reproduced through interactions and practices of living (and non-living) beings.

In our workshop we would like to confront these two theoretical accounts of the relationship between (social) life and the economy/the economical. In particular, we are interested in discussing the following questions:

  1. What are the conceptual strengths and weaknesses of each position?
  2. Which kinds of social ontology and social theory are linked to these various accounts?
  3. What are the modes of critique enabled by such different conceptions of the economic realm?

Following up the “Thinking the Economy” workshops which were successfully held at the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory in 2012, 2013, and 2014, we are inviting graduate students and post-docs from various academic fields to discuss their work related to one or more of these questions in an interdisciplinary manner.

Submission guidelines

Please send your abstract (300-500 words) to the convenors of the workshop, Bastian Ronge ( and Arthur Bueno (,

by April the 30th 2015.

Participants will be notified by May the 15th 2015. Graduate students can apply for a bursary. For further information, please contact Stephanie Rinaldi from the MANCEPT organization team (

Place and date : MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, 1-3 September 2015, Manchester


(in charge of the selection)

  • Dr. Bastian Ronge (Humboldt University Berlin)
  • Dr. Arthur Bueno (University of Sao Paulo)

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