Sociological Imagination as Social Critique: Interrogating the Global Economic Crisis

A C Dinerstein, Gregory Schwartz, Graham Taylor

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Why talk about the global economic crisis today? The topic no longer seems as relevant or fresh as it did two years ago when we issued the call for papers. At that time, the events following the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008 seemed to be at the centre of everyday and media discourse: we heard it on the radio, saw it on television, read it in the printed media and thought about it in public and private places. Our imaginaries and experiences seemed to be saturated by the global economic crisis. The global economic crisis informed or structured discussions about political interventions, bailouts, quantitative easing, the nationalisation of financial institutions, and austerity programmes. The emergence of the Indignados in Spain, the public sector workers’ protests in Greece, the London Riots, the Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring and the mass demonstrations in Russia and Turkey were often read through the prism of, or shared a common destiny with, the unfolding crisis.
Does the decentring of the global economic crisis from public and media attention imply that the crisis is over or should we understand both the existence and the effects of subsequent events and developments as ongoing expressions of the crisis? These events and developments have included a shift in the dominant discourse from ‘crisis’ to ‘recovery and growth’, heightened concerns around migration, the fiscal and legitimation problems of political institutions, the rise of right wing parties and movements and the return of geopolitics and violent conflicts. Is it now appropriate to reassign these events and developments to the discrete domains of economics, demography, politics and geography or do we need to rethink the concept and understanding of crisis in deeper sociological terms?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-868
Number of pages10
JournalSociology-the Journal of the British Sociological Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Ana C Dinerstein is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath, UK. She is corresponding editor of Historical Materialism. She was member of the Associate board of Sociology and participates in the BSA Theory Group. She has published extensively on Argentine and Latin American politics, Marxism and subjectivity, labour, social and indigenous movements, emancipatory struggles and the politics of policy. Her publications include The Labour Debate (2002), La Ruta de los Piqueteros (2010) and Social Movements and Collective Autonomy in Latin America (2013). Her book The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope is forth- coming with Palgrave Macmillan in November 2014.

Gregory Schwartz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at the University of Bristol. He is a sociologist by training, is on the editorial boards of Work Employment and Society, Organization and Historical Materialism, and is a member of the British and American Sociological Associations. He has researched and published widely on the changing nature of work organisation, labour relations and economic restructuring in post-Soviet Eastern Europe and Russia, and has edited a number of special issues on these themes.

Graham Taylor is Associate Professor of Sociology and Subject Leader of Sociology at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Publications include The New Political Sociology: Power, Ideology and Identity in an Age of Complexity (Palgrave, 2010), The Crisis of Social Democratic Trade Unionism in Western Europe: Prospects for Alternatives (with M Upchurch and A Mathers; Ashgate, 2009) and Globalization, Modernity and Social Change: Hotspots of Transition (with J Dürrschmidt; Palgrave, 2007).


  • global economic crisis
  • sociology
  • social critique
  • social theory
  • deconstructing the crisis
  • crisis and hope


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