The Social Structures of the Economy
Much orthodox economic theory is based on assumptions which are treated as self-evident: supply and demand are regarded as independent entities, the individual is assumed to be a rational agent who knows his interests and how to make decisions corresponding to them, and so on. But one has only to examine an economic transaction closely, as Pierre Bourdieu does here for the buying and selling of houses, to see that these abstract assumptions cannot explain what happens in reality.
As Bourdieu shows, the market is constructed by the state, which can decide, for example, whether to promote private housing or collective provision. And the individuals involved in the transaction are immersed in symbolic constructions which constitute, in a strong sense, the value of houses, neighbourhoods and towns.
The abstract and illusory nature of the assumptions of orthodox economic theory has been criticised by some economists, but Bourdieu argues that we must go further. Supply, demand, the market and even the buyer and seller are products of a process of social construction, and so-called 'economic' processes can be adequately described only by calling on sociological methods. Instead of seeing the two disciplines in antagonistic terms, it is time to recognize that sociology and economics are in fact part of a single discipline, the object of which is the analysis of social facts, of which economic transactions are in the end merely one aspect.
This brilliant study by the most original sociologist of post-war France will be essential reading for students and scholars of sociology, economics, anthropology and related disciplines.
The Production of Space
Henri Lefebvre has considerable claims to be the greatest living philosopher. His work spans some sixty years and includes original work on a diverse range of subjects, from dialectical materialism to architecture, urbanism and the experience of everyday life. The Production of Space is his major philosophical work and its translation has been long awaited by scholars in many different fields.
The book is a search for a reconciliation between mental space (the space of the philosophers) and real space (the physical and social spheres in which we all live). In the course of his exploration, Henri Lefebvre moves from metaphysical and ideological considerations of the meaning of space to its experience in the everyday life of home and city. He seeks, in other words, to bridge the gap between the realms of theory and practice, between the mental and the social, and between philosophy and reality. In doing so, he ranges through art, literature, architecture and economics, and further provides a powerful antidote to the sterile and obfuscatory methods and theories characteristic of much recent continental philosophy.
This is a work of great vision and incisiveness. It is also characterized by its author's wit and by anecdote, as well as by a deftness of style which Donald Nicholson-Smith's sensitive translation precisely captures.
Dark Age Ahead
In this indispensable book, urban visionary Jane Jacobs argues that as agrarianism gives way to a technology-based future, we’re at risk of cultural collapse. Jacobs—renowned author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Economy of Cities—pinpoints five pillars of our culture that are in serious decay: community and family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation, and government; and the self-regulation of the learned professions. The corrosion of these pillars, Jacobs argues, is linked to societal ills such as environmental crisis, racism, and the growing gulf between rich and poor.
But this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Drawing on a vast frame of reference—from fifteenth-century Chinese shipbuilding to Ireland’s cultural rebirth—Jacobs suggests how the cycles of decay can be arrested and our way of life renewed. Invigorating and accessible, Dark Age Ahead is not only the crowning achievement of Jane Jacobs’ career, but one of the most important works of our time.
Discours de la Methode
Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations examines Catholicism from the inside and deals with the popular prejudices which John Henry Newman's contemporaries entertained of it. Newman uses the same touch he displayed in the pulpit of St. Mary's to explain the truths of the faith which he had embraced. His humour and irony enable him to reach those "who do not narrow their belief to their experience." This edition reveals the context of the Discourses and contains a wealth of references.
Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith is often considered the first modern economist. His magnum opus, "The Wealth of Nations" (1776) is widely credited with laying the theoretical and philosophical foundations for capitalism. The work had an immediate impact on economic thinking, in light of its arguments for the freedom of trade. "The Wealth of Nations" is far more than a treatise of economic theory, however. In this work Smith presents a powerful blueprint for a stable and peaceful society which rests upon a hard-headed and realistic assessment of humans and their natures.