Dear COR community,
You are cordially invited to attend a colloquium co-sponsored by COR and the Department of Sociology.
IMAGINED FUTURES AND CAPITALIST DYNAMICS
Prof. Jens Beckert, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Germany
Friday, February 10
Abstract: In a capitalist system, consumers, investors, and corporations orient their activities toward a future that contains opportunities and risks. How do actors assess the future if this future is open and uncertain? Jens Beckert adds a new chapter to the theory of capitalism by demonstrating how fictional expectations drive modern economies—or throw them into crisis when the imagined futures fail to materialize. Collectively held images of how the future will unfold are critical because they free economic actors from paralyzing doubt, enabling them to commit resources and coordinate decisions even if those expectations prove inaccurate. Since they are not confined to empirical reality, fictional expectations are a source of creativity in the economy. In the talk Beckert will develop the notion of fictional expectations and relate it to the operation of investments, innovation and consumption. The talk is based on Beckert’s new book “Imagined Futures. Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics” (Harvard University Press, 2016).
Speaker bio: Jens Beckert is professor and director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne, Germany. His research examines the role of economy in society, especially based on studies of markets, organizational sociology, sociology of inheritance, and sociological theory. His books in English include Beyond the Market: The Social Foundations of Economic Efficiency (Princeton University Press, 1996), Inherited Wealth (Princeton University Press, 2008), and Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics (Harvard University Press, 2016). He is (co)editor of The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Constructing Quality: The Classification of Goods in Markets (Oxford University Press, 2013), among others. Prof. Beckert is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and currently serves as one of the editors of the European Journal of Sociology.