SCOTT LASH. Learning from China: Sociology vs. Neo-Classical Economics

Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

In China Constructing Capitalism: Economic Life and Urban Change (2013), we - drawing on a decade’s research and experience - argue that China‘s is not neo-liberal.  Instead there are neo-Daoist and Neo-Confucian routines, which - though they may not have worked for the economy in Max Weber’s time -, are eminently suited to the 21st Century. The relational, embedded forms of economic life and urban property relations China may be closer to Adam Smith’s empiricism (and ethics) than to Weberian rationalism. Neo-liberalism has it basis in neo-classical economics. Carl Menger, one of the founders of neoclassicism was a major influence on Weber in the Methodenstreit at the founding of German Sociology: an influence that still may be dominant in today. Sociology should instead learn from China: it should draw on its own phenomenological routines and neo-institutional political economy (e.g. Ostrom) in a critique of both the neo-classical subject and neo-liberalism.

SCOTT LASH is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies (CCS) at Goldsmiths College, University of London. The CCS is an independent, self-financing unit with some 150 graduate students. Lash’s books are translated into 15 languages. They include The End of Organized Capitalism (1987), Sociology of Postmodernism, (1990) Economies of Signs and Space (1994), Reflexive Modernization (1994) (with U. Beck and A. Giddens), Critique of Information (2002), Global Culture Industry (2007) and China Constructing Capitalism (2013).  Lash continues his research in China and is assembling a large-scale integrated EU research project (including China, India, Brazil) on Design and Social Innovation.