Feb 14

Next workshop, Feb 13

Please join us this Thursday (Feb 13) at 6pm for the following paper and discussion at the Social Theory Workshop:

The Failure of Left Internationalism

Eli Thorkelson
PhD Candidate
Department of Anthropology
University of Chicago

Apr 13

Global Capitalism And The Crisis Of Work Conference

Global Capitalism And The Crisis Of Work

April 26 2013, 9:30 am–April 27 2013, 5:00 pm

Logan Center Performance Penthouse


The History, Social Theory, and Capitalism Project of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory; the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture; The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality have convened a two-day conference on ” Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Work,” to be held at the University of Chicago on April 26 and 27, 2013. The conference will be devoted to the structural transformations of capitalism and of the world of work in recent decades. It will also investigate the relationship between these changes and the fortunes of various social movements, including those based on identities. Finally, it will ask about the future of work, itself.

Work and its social, cultural, and political problems have become increasingly peripheral to academic studies on both the theory and the practice of democratic politics and of social movements in recent decades. Ironically, this diminished interest in work – its history, meaning, political potential, and likely place in the future world – has occurred during a fundamental transformation of work and its social meaning that cries out for critical analysis.

From the 1830s to the 1970s, movements that sought to create more egalitarian or democratic societies focused largely on the problem of work. In retrospect, one can argue that the dual crisis of Fordist/Keynesian capitalism in the West and “actually existing socialism” in the East began a long-term structural decline of the industrial working class and, hence, of the social basis of working-class movements and their power. Over the ensuing decades, automation and industrialized agriculture have displaced labor in factory and field. Meanwhile, globalization has sent industrial production and service employment on an international search for low-cost non-unionized workers, but the relentless advance of automation has also begun to limit the growth of proletarian labor even in the low wage countries. However, the rise of automation and the declining salience of industrial work have not led to the emancipation from toil. Furthermore, the performance of work continues to be a condition for social and political belonging. This remains true even at present as the labor time has increased for some and been eliminated through long-term unemployment for many others.

These developments in the problem of work associated with neo-liberal global capitalism also have implications for understanding the contemporaneous rise to prominence of social movements focused on gender, race, nation, ethnicity, and sexuality. Academics have lately increasingly turned their attention to the racialized and gendered conceptualizations of categories and experiences of work and, more generally, to the relation of different populations historically to the uneven global development of capitalism. Nevertheless, the salience of these racialized and gendered patterns for the capitalist restructuring of work calls for further investigation. We believe it is time to rethink the relation of identity-based movements to the recent development of capitalism and to the structural transformations of work. Finally, the combination of rapid advances in technology and the urgent demands for restraint in order to preserve the global ecology asks how work and its socio-political significance will be transformed in the future.

The goal of this conference is to take stock of these transformations and to ponder their implications. We look forward to learning about your reflections on problems of work – including speculative reflections on the broader issues raised by the conference. It is our sense that a major rethinking of the problematic of work, its history, and its future prospects is overdue.

This event is sponsored by 3CT; The Center for The Study Of Race, Politics, and Culture; and The Center for The Study of Gender and Sexuality.

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please email Parker Everett at peverett@uchicago.edu



Apr 13

“Work” Photographs by Bill Sewell–Friday April 12 6pm


Photographs by Bill Sewell

Exhibition Opening Reception

Friday April 12, 6pm

Wilder House / 5811 S. Kenwood
** Cocktails and Refreshments will be served **

This exhibition was composed as a meditation on aspects of the life of labor and draws from a series of photographs shot in Chicago’s Loop (1999-2000) and in the Marais district of Paris (2011-2012).
Reflecting upon a number of work experiences, objects and sites, this collection of photographs explores a range of existential and emotional qualities entailed in the quotidian experience of work.

WORK was mounted in anticipation of 3CT’s upcoming conference “Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Work” which will examine the structural transformations of capitalism and of the world of work in recent decades.
Further detail concerning this conference will be available shortly at ccct.uchicago.edu
Mail Attachment
These events have been generously co-sponsored by the Center for Race, Politics and Culture (CSRPC),  the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS), the History Department and the Department of Political Science.
Anyone who may need assistance attending these events should contact amtormey@uchicago.edu


Apr 13

Next Workshop- April 4

Please join us for the next meeting of the Social Theory Workshop, (THIS) Thursday April 4

“Modern Social Theory and the Project of the Abolition of Labor”

Alan Milchman, Lecturer, Department of Political Science at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)  

All papers will be distributed in advance of the workshops via the Social Theory Workshop list serv. To join this list serv go to: lists.uchicago.edu and search for “Social Theory”

All events will take place at 6pm in Wilder House (5811 S. Kenwood Ave)

Oct 11

October 24 — Parker Everett

The Social Theory Workshop is pleased to announce its next meeting will take place Monday, October 24 at 8pm in Wilder House (5811 S. Kenwood Ave.).

We will be discussing a paper by History PhD Candidate Parker Everett, ” Berlin, 1920-1927: The City that Labors.”

A copy of the paper can be requested from Stacie Hanneman, sakent@uchicago.edu

We look forward to seeing you there.

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please call Stacie Hanneman in advance at sakent@uchicago.edu

May 11

Monday May 9 Jake Werner

The  next meeting of the Social Theory Workshop will take place Monday May 9 at 8pm in Wilder House (5811 S Kenwood Ave). We will be discussing a paper by Jake Werner entitled, “The Chinese Communist Party’s bid for hegemony in the factories, 1949-1957.”

Those still in need of the paper should  contact Stacie sakent@uchicago.edu

We look forward to seeing everyone.

May 10

Jake Werner

The Social Theory Workshop will hold its final meeting of the 2009-2010 academic year on Monday evening May 31st when Jake Werner will present “A preliminary attempt to theorize Fordism with Chinese characteristics.”  All are welcome.

The meeting will be held in Wilder House (5811 South Kenwood Avenue) at 6:00 pm.  Please note the earlier meeting time.

Members of the workshop’s email list will receive the paper automatically as a file attachment, once it becomes available.  Others who would like a copy of the paper should contact Robin Bates (rdbates@uchicago.edu).