Soziale Ungleichheit und Soziale Strukturen




Understanding Capitalism: The Objective Power of Markets

15296 - Übung

Dipl. Soz. Barbara Brandl & Veit Braun, M.A.

Fr. 10-12 Uhr c.t., Konradstr. 6, Raum 108
Beginn: 15.04.2016   Ende: 15.07.2016

"Like God, capitalism does not exist."

         — Bruno Latour: Irreductions

Wherever we look, everything seems to be commodified. In capitalism's cold logic, there is nothing that cannot be optimized, nothing one could not attach a price tag to, and nothing too precious to be sold off – or is there? The less we understand capitalism, the more inevitable its victory seems, regardless of whether we hail or fear it. But what if capitalism is really just a very mundane and futile activity, not any more or less rational than doing the dishes or getting a new haircut?

By bringing together political economy and the anthropology of markets, this course wants to understand capitalism rather than celebrate or criticize it. If capitalism is neither a form of transcendent rationality, nor an inhuman enterprise based on exploitation, exhaustion of resources, and alienation, then how can we explain it? Discussing central concepts such as money, the market, or the economy, we will ask what capitalism requires to exist, why it will unlikely conquer the world, and what that means for a critique of capitalism.

The course will be held in English, but advanced language skills are not required. One session will take place as a field trip on Saturday, April 16.


  • Callon, M. (ed.). (1998) The Laws of the Markets. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Polanyi, K. (2001). The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of our Time. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.


Anwesenheitspflicht in der 1. Veranstaltungsstunde! Sollten Sie aus triftigen Gründen nicht teilnehmen können, so informieren Sie den/die Dozenten/Dozentin rechtzeitig. Unentschuldigtes Fehlen in der 1. Veranstaltungsstunde bedeutet automatisch den Verlust des Kursplatzes.


  • regelmäßige und aktive Teilnahme
  • kontinuierliche Lektüre der Literatur


  • Feldbericht (Übungsaufgaben)
  • Referat