Wool Works – Manhattan Marxism / Exploitation / Strange Teaching / art project by Rainer Ganahl

The artist Rainer Ganahl addresses exploitation by comparing the preindustrial way of producing woolen products with the products and processes using computer-aided knitting maschines. His aim is „to raise consciousness about the manifold complicated hidden production processes that enter the consumer products we purchase at department stores for little money“ (http://strangeteaching.info/porto_exploitation.html, see also: http://ganahl.info).


a project developed for PANORAMA BOA VISTA, Porto, Portugal, March 2017


Rainer Ganahl – Manhattan Marxism / Wool Works / Exploitation / Strange Teaching / Wool Works / Exploitation – Opening Wednesday, Apr 12, 10pm

In this exhibition, Rainer Ganahl combines his projects Manhattan Marxism and Strange Teaching, emphasizing the aspect of exploitation. …

Manhattan Marxism has previously taken place at Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein (2012), White Columns, New York (2013), and De Vleshaal, Middelburg (2014). Ganahl is interested in Karl Marx as a theoretician and as a metaphor for a more just world. He is interested in convivial spaces to be shared with others.

His guiding idea for the Porto edition of Manhattan Marxism consists of working with wool in a preindustrial way. The students spin, make felt and produce works from scratch that compare and compete with five machine-knitted pieces that are made possible with the help of STOLLs knitting computers. The work process is documented and quantified. Thus, it is meant to raise consciousness about the manifold complicated hidden production processes that enter the consumer products we purchase at department stores for little money. Like a Do It Yourself (Marxian) superstructure, a series of guest lectures with visiting local and international artists and critics, as well a presentation by the participating students, accompany the hard and restless labor of the unpaid work program.

Ganahl’s exhibition is complemented with a separate show of works by the selection of students from the  AbK-Stuttgart and FBAU Porto who volunteered to be „exploited“ by the artist.“ (Source: http://strangeteaching.info/porto_exploitation.html; the picture you may find here: http://strangeteaching.info/strange/mm_marx_0677s.jpg; Danke an Hannes für den Hinweis).

„Economics is For Everyone“ (I would add: The economy is for everyone.)

„‘Economics is for everyone’, argues legendary economist Ha-Joon Chang in our latest mind-blowing RSA Animate. This is the video economists don’t want you to see! Chang explains why every single person can and SHOULD get their head around basic economics. He pulls back the curtain on the often mystifying language of derivatives and quantitative easing, and explains how easily economic myths and assumptions become gospel. Arm yourself with some facts, and get involved in discussions about the fundamentals that underpin our day-to-day lives.“

See also here: https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/economy-enterprise-manufacturing-folder/citizens-economic-council). The book Chang refers to is this: Economics: The User’s Guide, Penguin, London, 2014.


„Die feinen Unterschiede“ – Pierre Bourdieu erläutert seine Sozialtheorie

In einem sehr interessanten Interview in einer Dokumentation des Hessischen Rundfunks aus dem Jahre 1981 erläutert Pierre Bourdieu seine Theorie bzw. Theorielemente, die er in seinem Buch „Die feinen Unterschiede“ entwickelt hat (Bourdieu, Pierre (1991): Die feinen Unterschiede. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, französischsprachiges Original 1979 bzw. deutschsprachiges 1982). Er klärt u.a., was er mit Habitus meint und legt seine Theorie der „Kapitalsorten“ dar.

Der etwas mehr als 40 Minuten lange Beitrag des Hessischen Rundfunks ist im besten Sinne altmodisch – er bleibt bei seinem Thema, auf die heute oftmals verwendeten, unnötigen und ablenkenden Animationen wird verzichtet, die Erläuterungen des Sprechers sind präzise. Fernsehen ist eben doch nicht dazu gezwungen, zur „Blödmaschine“ (Metz, Markus; Seeßlen, Georg (2012): Blödmaschinen. Die Fabrikation der Stupidität. Berlin: Suhrkamp) zu verkommen.

New publication: „Socio-economic Research in Personnel versus Personnel Economics“

Do we have an alternative to personnel economics? Yes, we have one: socio-economics.

This is what economists (in this case Edward Lazear) claim:

„Economists have something new to say about these issues, however, primarily because economics provides a rigorous, and in many cases more straightforward, way to think about these human resources questions than do the more sociological and psychological approaches.“ (Lazear, Edward. „personnel economics.“ The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 16 December 2015 <http://www.dictionaryofeconomics.com/article?id=pde2008_P000327> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1275

My paper argues that personnel economics is still based on wrong assumptions (yes, I know, that some theorists might say, that this is not a problem. The so-called „as-if“ approach is seems to be still alive in economics, probably the only scientific discipline where this thinking is viewed as acceptable), and I try to offer an alternative to personnel economics, that is: socio-economics.

„This paper argues that personnel economics is still dominated by the assumptions of orthodox microeconomics, and also that newer fields such as transaction cost theory are far removed from socio-economics. Personnel economics is characterised by assumptions of unbounded rationality, stable preferences and functioning markets; power differences are seen as unimportant for explanations. By contrast, a socio-economic perspective works with the assumption of bounded rationality; it takes preferences into account, assumes that markets are characterised by ‘non-equilibrium’ states and power differences. The paper outlines a socio-economic mode of explanation and suggests that any explanation should include assumptions about three theoretical mechanisms: pursuit of utility, power and sense-making.“ Source: Nienhueser, Werner (2014): Socio-economic Research in Personnel versus Personnel Economics. In: Forum for Social Economics DOI: 10.1080/07360932.2014.961498.

If you’re interested in my paper, you may read it for free at: tandfonline (37 of 50 copies still left today…).

Academic unfreedom in economics

„from David Ruccio: We forget, at our peril, the extent to which academic unfreedom is enforced in departments of economics across North America.

Most departments of economics offer—in the classroom and in terms of research and policy advice—only mainstream economics. By that I mean they hire economists who only teach, conduct research, and offer policy advice defined by one or another version of mainstream (neoclassical and Keynesian) economics. Other approaches to economics—generally, these days, referred to as heterodox economics—simply aren’t recognized by or represented within those departments. That was true in the decades leading up to the crash of 2007-08 and, perhaps even more startling, it has continued to be the case in the years since.“  (Source and read more: Real-World Economics Review Blog; Academic unfreedom in economics)

„Corporate apologies: Beware the pitfalls of saying sorry“

Interesting, but somewhat cynically sounding piece on „Corporate apologies: Beware the pitfalls of saying sorry“ by Jeffrey Pfeffer. (Source:  http://jeffreypfeffer.com/2015/10/corporate-apologies-beware-the-pitfalls-of-saying-sorry/). I see 2 hypotheses, which would be interesting to test empirically: a) Power -> +probability of apologizing OR b) Apologizing –> -power. Or is there a feedback loop: power (t1) –> apologizing (t2) –> power (t3)? But we should also ask: In whose interest would this kind of research be done? (I don’t have a simple answer.)

Etzioni explains Communitarianism in a few minutes

Amitai Etzioni explains Communitarianism in „five minutes“ (in fact in a bit more than 11 minutes…). Great! I have a lot of questions especially regarding the relationship between individual freedom and the strenghts of social norms but nevertheless find this a very interesting and attractive political philosphy.  See the „The Five Minute Communitarian HD video.

Who wants to read more, should have a look at this: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/communitarianism/