Cover of The Emotional Logic of Capitalism by Martijn Konings
The Emotional Logic of Capitalism
What Progressives Have Missed
Martijn Konings


184 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804794077
Paperback ISBN: 9780804794473
Ebook ISBN: 9780804794503

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Winner of the 2016 Transdisciplinary Humanities Book Award, sponsored by Institute for Humanities Research, Arizona State University.

Shortlisted for the 2016 IPEG Book Prize, sponsored by the British International Studies Association (BISA) - International Political Economy Group.

The capitalist market, progressives bemoan, is a cold monster: it disrupts social bonds, erodes emotional attachments, and imposes an abstract utilitarian rationality. But what if such hallowed critiques are completely misleading? This book argues that the production of new sources of faith and enchantment is crucial to the dynamics of the capitalist economy. Distinctively secular patterns of attraction and attachment give modern institutions a binding force that was not available to more traditional forms of rule. Elaborating his alternative approach through an engagement with the semiotics of money and the genealogy of economy, Martijn Konings uncovers capitalism's emotional and theological content in order to understand the paradoxical sources of cohesion and legitimacy that it commands. In developing this perspective, he draws on pragmatist thought to rework and revitalize the Marxist critique of capitalism.

About the author

Martin Konings is Senior Lecturer and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

"In his timely new book, The Emotional Logic of Capitalism: What Progressives Have Missed, Martijn Konings launches a sophisticated critique of the various disembedded, externalist understandings of capitalism associated with strands of American progressivism, generally rooted in the approach most forcefully developed by Karl Polanyi . . . Konings' analysis of capitalism is profound. It is original, sophisticated, and at its best, convincing."

—Bryant William Sculos, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

"In The Emotional Logic of Capitalism: What Progressives Have Missed, Martijn Konings reframes Marx's observations about money, calling on semiotics as well as political economy to make his case. Konings provides a thoughtful intellectual history to justify his framework, and he arrives at several refreshingly counterintuitive conclusions . . . Konings makes a compelling argument that markets are productive in social, cultural, and political as well as economic realms, and that both Marxist and neoclassical economists miss the full richness of these intertwined processes."

—Edward F. Fischer, European Journal of Sociology

"[I]t is clear that there are many opportunities for Konings' arguments to make a significant contribution to our empirical understanding of the performative construction of the economy. His book serves to remind those of us interested in the organization of markets and the economy of the extraordinary power of signs – of icons – and encourage us earthbound ANTs to look occasionally to the heavens."

—Philip Roscoe, Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization

"This book explores previously uncharted territory in which a very cultural system reinforces the market. The author's concern goes well beyond advertising, the media, or crass consumerism to suggest the existence of market icons, which like religious icons, bring a sense of important matters that go well beyond everyday life . . . Recommended."

—M. Perelman, CHOICE

"This extraordinarily incisive and provocative book goes a long way toward explaining the tenacious grip of money on the American moral imagination."

—Eugene McCarraher, Villanova University

"A unique and original rethinking of the conceptual and affective armature of economy, both in its emergence as a distinct domain of social life and object of analysis over the past century and in its new salience under the sign of neoliberalism."

—Randy Martin, New York University

"I found the book to be a compelling and thought-provoking read. The writing is conceptually dense, yet concise and clear."

—Erin B. Taylor, Journal of Cultural Economy

"[T]he discussion of the sadomasochistic rituals of earning, saving, and consuming as constituting the construction of wounded attachments of the individual to money and the role of these rituals in supporting the neoliberal order, both on affective and moral levels, is a pregnant insight into the deep human psychology that perpetuates the capitalistic status quo...there is much to recommend this book. It is no doubt a substantial contribution to discussions about how and why people are emotionally attached to capitalist culture."

—David M. Kutzik, Contemporary Sociology

"Konings employs insights from sociology, psychology, and semiotics, in addition to history and political economy, to craft a rich account of American exceptionalism as manifest in its long-standing tradition of populist republicanism, most recently in the Tea Party movement...This is an extremely important book that deserves wide and careful reading"

—Michael Keaney, Review of Radical Political Economics