Mid-Season Lecture – What is Capitalism?

What is Capitalism? with Professors Claire Lemercier and Pierre François

Chair: Lucile Boucher

In this special mid-season episode, we speak with historian Claire Lemercier (CNRS/SciencesPo – CSO) and sociologist Pierre François (CNRS/SciencesPo – CSO) about the difficulties of (re)defining what the word “capitalism” means within and outside of academia.

Building on the recent renewal of studies on capitalism in the social sciences, their new book Sociologie historique du capitalisme (La Découverte, 2021) proposes a renewed reflexion on capitalism at the crossroads of disciplines. Based on a decade of interdisciplinary empirical research, the book’s argument builds on various case studies to develop a broader theoretical argument about capitalism as a social system. While distinguishing three major epochs of capitalism from the 17th century to today (the ages of commerce, factories and finance), the authors also adopt a thematical approach including topics such as the “Great Divergence”, consumer movements, the segmentation of workplaces, conflicts between shareholders and managers, the social capital of capitalists, and conflicts over property rights.



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