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By Todd Dufresne, Clara Sacchetti

Scholars learn a number of the basics of what makes “the financial system” paintings through exploring the metaphors of and resistances to capitalism today.

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Additional resources for The Economy as Cultural System: Theory, Capitalism, Crisis

Example text

In other words, the basic unit of contemporary capitalism seems to have morphed from the circulation of the commodity, defined by its exchange-value (as expressed through price fluctuations, for example), to the communication of cultural style, perceived in terms of the differentiation of sign-values (as in can be seen in the competition between brands). Likewise, economic activity now turns as much on the fixed assets and guaranteed securities of privately owned businesses as on high-risk and mobile investments made by institutional shareholders.

They also include the virtual side effects of financial crises and speculative meltdowns of markets in stocks, bonds, loans, and funds (Lash 2010, 116–25). 0). Canonical concepts such as commodityfetishism, rationalization, discipline, and (de)individualization, for example, still afford us some critical perspective on the potential within contemporary capitalism for political transformation and civic regeneration (O’Neill 2004). Exploiting distraction: Beyond Marx and Simmel In Marx’s draft for a chapter he planned to write on “The Results of the Immediate Process of Production,” which he ultimately abandoned but which is often included as an appendix in posthumously published editions of the first volume of Capital (Capital I), he elaborates on the key theoretical distinction around which most of the main text is organized: between “absolute surplus value” on the one hand—the value added to capital by the extension of the working day or the expansion of markets and manufactories—and “relative 22 THE ECONOMY AS CULTURAL SYSTEM surplus value” on the other, which accrues through the acceleration of the work process or by increasing output through technological innovations.

Although not devoid of the concrete or the everyday, chapter x valorizes theoretical work for helping us think through the dynamic, iterative connections between capitalism and culture, or what we are calling the economy as culture system. We are aware that our emphasis on the theoretical, synthetic, or abstract, may be somewhat controversial in the post-2008 era where people are struggling to meet their basic needs. We are acutely aware, as well, that many scholars have turned away from theory in the name of dealing with the so-called “real world” (cf.

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