The New Political Economy and Its Culture

Richard Sennett

I look at the practice of democracy not so much as a fixed set of procedural requirements, but as a process that needs to have certain kinds of symbolic markers and consummations that define where people are in relation to each other.

The Commodification of Self

Joseph E. Davis

The shaping and conditioning of our self-understanding by consumption is one form of the commodification of self. 

What Money Shouldn’t Buy

Michael J. Sandel

Is it true that there's nothing wrong with commodification that fair terms of social cooperation cannot cure?

The Universe in a Grain of Sand?

Johann N. Neem

Those committed to human rights at the global level should seek not to universalize the particular but rather to particularize the universal.

The Meaning of Secularism

Charles Taylor

For the people to be sovereign, they need to form an entity and have a personality.

The Long-Term Unemployed

The Editors

“I am outdated and can’t afford to update.”

Main Street USA

James M. Jasper

Cities are capable of uniting people, especially compared to the isolation found in that great object of nostalgic fantasy, the family farm.

American Culture Facing China’s Rise

Jeffrey C. Alexander and Hans Andersson

How America has long viewed China exerts no small influence on which path Washington will follow in its material and cultural relations with the People’s Republic. 

Watching and Worrying

Jeffrey S. Dill

The author’s interpretive framework truncates the narrative by forcing her to see thick cultural issues only through the lens of social class.

The Social Meanings of Dignity at Work

Allison J. Pugh

Economies of dignity shape what people talk about and how people talk about others.

Does Money Undermine Social Relations?

Eva Illouz

The ideology of the pure gift is not foreign or extraneous to the monetization of relationships.

Poverty and Paradox

Alice O’Connor

Poverty research has become caught up in a paradox of its own making—of diminishing insight into the problem of poverty amid more data about the poor.

Soul Survivor

Dominic Green

We can be sure that, religiosity being constitutional in human and social terms, religion has survived.

We Have Never Been Disenchanted

Eugene McCarraher

Capitalism has been a form of enchantment, a metamorphosis of the sacred in the raiment of secularity. With money as its ontological marrow, it represents a moral and metaphysical imagination as well as a sublimation of our desire for the presence of divinity in the everyday world.

Pink Pills and Economic Man

Joseph E. Davis

Mysteriously, biologically, men and women want, or want to want, “the same thing.”

Temps, Consultants, and the Rise of the Precarious Economy

Louis Hyman

Since 1970, temporary labor has become part of the everyday fabric of work across all segments of society, from the bottom to the top.

Liberated as Hell

Brent Cebul

The quest for personal authenticity and autonomy in the face of unreliable communities and institutions has become a defining feature of the modern working class.

Vocation in the Valley

Philip Lorish

What kind of society can be produced from a work culture that demands so much from its workers without offering them stability in return?

The Self-Assembled Career

Carrie M. Lane

The solution to the unraveling of the social contract of employment may not be to prop up the ailing traditional job but, instead, to imagine what other forms work lives might take. 

Animal Spirits

Jackson Lears

The self-made man and the confidence man have existed in dialectical tension down to the present.

Virtuosos of Idleness

Charlie Tyson

Our crisis of work is accompanied by a crisis of idleness.

Don’t Be Evil

Kyle Edward Williams

Is Whole Foods a kind of morality tale, a story of what happens when a company that started with good intentions gets too big too fast?

Who Pays for the Buy?

Karen Corinne Herceg

In the long run, we all pay dearly for the carefully crafted commercial illusion that we can hold people to standards on a selective basis.

Wayward Leviathans

David Ciepley

How America's corporations lost their public purpose.

Friedman’s Demon

Phil Christman

Can neoliberalism’s conceptual structure be traced directly to medieval Western Christianity?

The Phantom Economy

Joseph E. Davis

The highly abstract and immaterial phantom economy is inextricable from the “real economy.”

Work and Dignity

Joseph E. Davis

Work is not just an economic matter. Beyond survival, a range of other human values and ideals are at stake.

The Corporate Professor

Jennifer L. Geddes

Exploring the bureaucratization of the life of the mind.

Sustain-ability?

Joshua J. Yates

There seems to be little agreement on what it is that needs sustaining, let alone how we should go about it in practice.

Does Philanthropy Subvert Democracy?

Nick Burns

Is modern-day philanthropy a disease in the democratic body politic?

You Are What You (Don’t) Eat

James McWilliams

The personal diet has become not only a cult; it has become a political statement.

The Distance from Our Food

Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft

Distance can breed ignorance of the ecosystems and individual animal lives that feed us.

The Odd Couple

Natasha Zaretsky

Both Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey endorse the same belief: that there are only winners and losers.

After Cosmopolitanism

Stuart Whatley

Like globalist, cosmopolitan has become a freighted term.

The Means of Production

Bradley Babendir

Could the great size of companies like Apple and Walmart actually be a good thing?

Closing Time

Clare Coffey

We’re all counting bodies.

You’ve Been Hacked

Richard Hughes Gibson

Government ties to Big Tech run deep.

To Make the World Select for Democracy

John M. Owen

Cosmopolitan liberalism has reshaped international institutions and practices.

How Enduring the Promise?

Andrew Lynn

It is fair to say that a new economic populism has been rendered impotent by cultural identity markers that shape voting patterns.

America, the Exceptional?

Steve Lagerfeld

Once attacked for rejecting American exceptionalism, liberals now are in almost sole possession of it.

To Forgive Us Our Trespasses…

Nancy Isenberg

In the words of retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy,  “a people confident in its laws and institutions should not be ashamed of mercy.”

Left Behind

Nancy Isenberg

The trouble with euphemism.

The Man Who Saved Capitalism from Itself

Charlie Tyson

In studying Keynes, we watch radical ideas emerge filtered through a conservative sensibility.

America’s Tailspin

Ronald Aronson

Despite obvious differences and contradictions, “we” extended across class and race and stressed our common vulnerability.

A Different Sense of Privilege

Steve Lagerfeld

Privilege today still comes with strings attached, but they are different now.

A New Guild System

Alan Jacobs

I envision a world in which the increased fragmentation of our media scene leads, over time, to the rise of new institutions that are built on stronger foundations.

The Endless Pursuit of Better

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

What is clear is that the great divisions in our country rest on our different systems of cultural capital.

Capital Inequalities

Shamus Khan

We may well need to transcend the capital analogy.

Too Many Doctors in the House

Ronald W. Dworkin

The title of "doctor" is a very useful thing, provided you can make other people believe it is important.

Stacked Deck

Jonathan Malesic

Substack prompts the question should the people we rely on to inform us be celebrities?

From Hard Hats to Scrubs

Colin Gordon

Industrial capitalism is but a stepping-stone on the path to a service economy and so-called knowledge work.

Self-care

B.D. McClay

Every critique of self-care is true. Unfortunately, you still have to take care of yourself.

Snapshots of City Life: Our Top Reads

Stephen Assink

We at Common Place over the past year read numerous articles on issues facing our cities and communities. Here are our favorite reads.

Why the New Flows of Capital Matter for Cities

Stephen Assink

Cities are increasingly being eyed by tech companies for their social dynamism and ability to generate innovation. This will have tremendous consequences for the future of society.

Cozy Up to Whole Foods

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Whole Foods Market is tired of your “whole paycheck” jokes. Recently, “America’s healthiest grocery store” launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign titled Values Matter.

Could Show You Incredible Things—But That Would Be a Trademark Violation

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Taylor Swift’s recent trademarking frenzy is another example of how artists are scrambling to maintain control over their work in the face of the digital tsunami.

Up in Smoke—Plain Packaging and Brand Identity

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Is plain packaging for cigarettes a barrier to trade?

My Love/Hate Relationship With Streaming

James Rathjen

It's just not possible to love something that says “be unique, but only as unique as we'll allow you to be.”

“Putting the Soul to Work”: Reflections on the New Cognitariat

Talbot Brewer

Why should we expect that the inner self waiting to be born corresponds to some paid job or profession?

It’s the System, Stupid

Ned O’Gorman

In identifying “the system” as the issue of this election, Trump has managed to find a singular concept by which to encompass issues from wage stagnation to political corruption.

Our Chekhov Moment

Eric B. Schnurer

Who will emerge as the new elite from this particular moment’s cast of winners and losers?

The Dirty Work of Killing

Joanna Sierks Smith

It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that meat consumption has risen as fewer Americans participate in or even think about the slaughter that allows it.

Reading Wealth of Nations and Meeting Adam Smith

Richard Hughes Gibson

To measure the Wealth of Nations, you had to inspect the shirts on people’s backs and the shoes on their feet.

The Compatibility Trap

Siobhan Lyons

As the titans of big tech see it, the reticence to upgrade is nothing less than resistance to progress. But a willingness to upgrade does not benefit customers in the long run.

A New Guild System

Alan Jacobs

What if the more successful political commentators on Substack, or music teachers on YouTube, or masters of the podcast interview, began to teach their craft to others?

Amazon and Us

Kyle Edward Williams

We are distinctly susceptible to businesses that ingeniously cater to and profit from our greatest vulnerabilities

The Serf’s Story

Alan Jacobs

Like the tenants of the Bishop of Worcester, they know that in a tightening job market they have leverage.

A Stacked Deck

Jonathan Malesic

What makes someone a likely Substack star is an ability to cultivate one-way, parasocial relationships with readers.

Finding Fukuyama’s Ends

Addis Goldman

Western liberal democracy is something worth aspiring toan optimal destiny, not an imminent fate.

Looking Under the Hood of AI’s Dubious Models

Ethan Edwards

Models are only valuable in the long run if we are free to take them apart.

The Professional-Managerial Novel

Sohale Andrus Mortazavi

Pretending that all workers are the same obscures rather than clarifies the reality of class.

The Problem with Productivity and the Good Work of Love

Alan Jacobs

That means, first, that I have to love my neighbor—my colleague—above my own productivity.

Why Carl Schmitt Matters to China

Addis Goldman

It would be prudent to take the Chinese at their word––especially if it is bound up in the mystifying language of Carl Schmitt.