ES: Critical Transitions in A.I.S

Faculteit Gedrags- en MaatschappijWetenschappen
Jaar 2019/20
Vakcode GMSCS005
Vaknaam ES: Critical Transitions in A.I.S
Niveau(s) master
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester I b

Uitgebreide vaknaam Economy and Society: Critical Transitions in Advanced Industrialised Societies
Leerdoelen After the course, the students:
- describe selected key (long term) transformations in modern (capitalist) societies, as postulated in current scholarship
- critically assess the quality of the available empirical evidence that is used to substantiate specific trends, and identify their shortcomings
- describe sociological theories explaining the transformations and their consequences
- critically apply this knowledge to disentangle competing social mechanism explanations related to the antecedents and consequences of specific transformations
Omschrijving The scholarly literature and public debate of the past two decades is packed with allusions to presumed crises and the resulting transformations of modern econ-omies. Globalization and financialization (Krippner) by now seem to be taken-for-granted developments in markets. Retrenchment of the welfare state and de-democratization (Streeck) of its capitalist arrangements are seen as the signature of Western nation states. Rationalization of control and flexibilization of production were proclaimed as inevitable survival strategies for firms and public organizations. And finally, informatization (Castells) as the driving force behind a nascent network society, and fragmentation of its elites (Mizruchi) shape the social fabric of modern societies.
Each of these presumed macro-level trends or “crises” is subject to heated debates about their very nature, their scope, their antecedents, their consequences, and their potential remedies. The main objective of this course is to provide a state-of-the-art overview of the current debates on economic transformations and their social consequences. For this purpose, we will draw on the rich traditions and exciting recent insights in the field of Economic Sociology - “a sociological perspective applied to economic phenomena” (Smelser & Swedberg, 1994). More specifically, for each transformation, we will address a descriptive and an explanatory element.
In the descriptive part, we will first examine the conceptual foundations, striving to arrive at clear-cut definitions. What kind of assumptions are behind the multi-dimensional theoretical constructs that are used to describe each of these transformations (e.g. what exactly does financialization mean? How can we diagnose a retrenchment of the welfare state?). Subsequently, we investigate to what degree the assumed developments can indeed be observed (historically and geographically). Here, an important question is to what degree such developments reflect temporary shifts or “irreversible” reconfigurations of fundamental social and economic processes and structures. For example, in which sectors and regions can we observe flexibilization of production? How did it evolve through time?
In the explanatory part we will critically analyze current attempts to explain these transformations and their societal consequences. Here, particular emphasis will be on disentangling different social mechanisms, paying particular attention to potentially competing explanations. For example, whereas some ob-servers advocate informatization – the use of the world wide web as a means of instant information dissemination and coordination - as a major stepping stone towards less social segregation and inequality, others argue that this trend will further consolidate existing power asymmetries in favor of large multinational companies.
Uren per week variabel
Onderwijsvorm colloquium
(work sessions including presentation from the lecturer and students)
Toetsvorm deelname, presentatie, werkstuk (individueel)
(The final grade for this class is based on three contributions (weighting in brackets). First: the design and implementation of one session of the course, consisting of a presentation part (“mini-lecture”) and an interactive part, addressing one of the transitions or trends (40%). Second: an individual term paper of about 6000 words, in which the transition is analyzed in more detail (50%). Third: active participation during all sessions (10%).)
Vaksoort master
Coördinator Z. Lippényi, PhD.
Docent(en) Z. Lippényi, PhD. ,prof. dr. R.P.M. Wittek
Entreevoorwaarden The prerequisites are specified within the general outline of the master’s pro-gram for the Sociology and Social Research (Utrecht students) and Human Behavior in Social Contexts: program Social Networks, Solidarity, and Inequality (Groningen students). Prerequisites generally consist of an undergraduate training in Sociol-ogy (or a non-sociology major and sufficient undergraduate training in related social science education).
Opmerkingen Recommended readings about critical transitions will be provided in the course manual.
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
Research Master, Behavioural and Social Sciences (ReMa)  (ReMa) 1 semester I b keuze