CapitalismEducationO.O.P.S.Theory & Practice

O.O.P.S. vs M.O.O.C.s: Midterm Report, Part 2

The O.O.P.S. courses Rethinking Capitalism and Feminism, Capitalism and Social Transformation share a critical understanding: capitalism, as we are experiencing it, is undesirable and not the only political economy possible. They also both analyze how major social problems are directly linked to the present order of capitalism, from sexism, to racism, to climate change, and much more. While my Social Condition course shares a critical approach with these two courses, it is with a significant difference. The critical focus has not been specifically on capitalism, even as my students and I have been examining existential and political conditions of social continuity and transformation that are clearly connected to the present state of the political economy. …

CapitalismEducationO.O.P.S.Sex & GenderTheory & Practice

O.O.P.S. vs M.O.O.C.s: Midterm Report, Part 1

“The proponents of M.O.O.C.s (Massive Open Online Courses) look for the magic bullet, hoping to find a technological solution to the crisis in education. The O.O.P.S. (Open Online Public Seminar) project is to use the new technology, the potential of the web, to extend education’s promise.”

With these words, I closed my introduction to a New School for Social Research experiment, using the resources of Public Seminar to realize the intellectual mission of engaged social science in and beyond the classroom. Since then we have been pushing forward. …

O.O.P.S.Theory & Practice

Arendt’s Plurology

The sociologist reading Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition is bound to squint at the page in puzzlement when Arendt gives her definition of society. So would, I think, most readers of the text. Arendt’s fondness for assigning new meanings to commonly used words is most perfectly demonstrated in that moment when she nonchalantly declares that “society” is a distinctly modern phenomenon: the intrusion of the private sphere into the public, resulting in a massive emptying of the value of human association.

CapitalismO.O.P.S.Sex & Gender

Kollontai, Pankhurst, and Goldman on Feminism and Social Transformation

Many of us were excited and inspired by Kollontai, Pankhurst and Goldman’s approach to the relation between feminist and anti-capitalist struggles. For all three revolutionaries, social relations as a whole (gender and family relations, affective and moral capacities, and psychic life) are involved in the reproduction of capitalism. This entails that the transformation of reproduction in this expanded sense is as important as that of production, since an emancipatory struggle that fails transform social life as a whole runs the risk of reproducing the very forms of domination it seeks to overcome. In order to reconstruct some of our discussion in a schematic way, I will discuss several aspects of this insight that informs the practical and theoretical commitments of Kollontai, Pankhurst and Goldman. This shared presuppositio