Virtualism; A New Political Economy

Overview

We live in a time of economic virtualism, whereby our lives are made to conform to the virtual reality of economic thought. Globalization, transnational capitalism, structural adjustment programmes and the decay of welfare are all signs of the growing power of economics, one of the most potent forces of recent decades. In the last thirty years, economics has ceased to be just an academic discipline concerned with the study of economy, and has come to be the only legitimate way to think about all aspects of ...

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Overview

We live in a time of economic virtualism, whereby our lives are made to conform to the virtual reality of economic thought. Globalization, transnational capitalism, structural adjustment programmes and the decay of welfare are all signs of the growing power of economics, one of the most potent forces of recent decades. In the last thirty years, economics has ceased to be just an academic discipline concerned with the study of economy, and has come to be the only legitimate way to think about all aspects of society and how we order our lives. Economic models are no longer measured against the world they seek to describe, but instead the world is measured against them, found wanting and made to conform.

This profound and dangerous change in the power of abstract economics to shape the lives of people in rich and poor countries alike is the subject of this interdisciplinary study. Contributors show how economics has come to portray a virtual reality — a world that seems real but is merely a reflection of a neo-classical model — and how governments, the World Bank and the IMF combine to stamp the world with a virtual image that condemns as irrational our local social and cultural arrangements. Further, it is argued that virtualism represents the worrying emergence of new forms of abstraction in the political economy, of which economics is just one example.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers will find his survey of retail trade interesting and valuable." —American Jourbanal of Sociology

"This volume ... is a worthy turban-of-the-century successor to Karl Polanyi's The great transformation (1957) ... " —Jourbanal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Booknews
Nine multidisciplinary contributors unite in sounding an alarm over how neo-classical economics has morphed into model of reality accepted by governments, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund over local sociocultural ones. Anthropologist Miller concludes with a theory of virtualism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859732427
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Abstraction in Western Economic Practice 25
2 The Triumph of Economics; Or, 'Rationality' Can Be Dangerous to Your Reasoning 49
3 Abstraction, Reality and the Gender of 'Economic Man' 75
4 Development and Structural Adjustment 95
5 Cash for Quotas: Disputes over the Legitimacy of an Economic Model of Fishing in Iceland 117
6 The Transnational Capitalist Class 135
7 Virtual Capitalism: The Globalisation of Reflexive Business Knowledge 161
Conclusion: A Theory of Virtualism 187
Notes on Contributors 217
Index 219
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