Imagined, Real and Moral Economies
John Clarke: Social Policy, Open University, UK
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
Theme: Capitalism: Current Crisis and Cultural Critique Edited by Johan Fornäs

No. of pages:
Publication type:

This article explores three different inflections of the idea of economy: imagined, real and moral. Each offers a distinctive way of thinking about economies and each raises the possibility of providing critical purchase on the formations of ’actually existing capitalisms’. The article begins from the idea of imagined economies given the proliferation of such imaginaries, not least in the wake of the fi-nancial crisis. In political, public and policy discourse, economies have become the focus of intense fantasy and projection. The resulting imaginaries underpin a range of economic, public and social policies. Importantly, they articulate a foundational distinction between economic and other sorts of policy. The idea of imag-ined economies opens the space for a certain type of critical engagement with contemporary political economy. In a rather different way, ideas of the ’real economy’ have also been the site of critical work - distinguishing between ’real’ relations and practices involved in the production of material objects (and value) in the contrast with virtual, digital, financialised economies. This article treats the ‘real economy’ as one further instance of an imagined economy. Like the concept of the ’real economy’, E.P. Thompson’s exploration of a ’moral economy’ also offers a standpoint from which critical analysis of the current economic, political and social disintegrations might be constructed. Thompson’s articulation of a moment in which collective understandings of economies as fields of moral relationships and obligations dramatises the contemporary de-socialization of economies, even if it may be harder to imagine twentieth and twenty first century capitalisms as moral economies that the current crisis has disrupted. Again, the article treats ’moral economies’ as another form of imagined economy, in part to make visible the shifting and contested character of what counts as ’economic’.

Keywords: Imagined economies; everyday thinking; crises; contradictions; frac-tures; consent; conjuncture

Volume 6, Theme: Theme: Capitalism: Current Crisis and Cultural Critique Edited by Johan Fornäs

, Article 5, 2014

John Clarke
Imagined, Real and Moral Economies:

Althusser, Louis (1970/1971): ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation)’, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, New York, NY: Monthly Review Press, 127-186.

Anderson, Benedict (1991): Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso.

Berkel, Rik van & Vandho Borghi (2008): The Governance of Activation, Social Policy and Society, 7:3, 331-340.

Cameron, Angus & Ronen Palan (2004): Imagined geographies of globalization, London: Sage Publications.

Clarke, John (2007): ‘Subordinating the Social? Neoliberalism and the Remaking of Welfare Capitalism’, Cultural Studies,21:6,974–987. DOI: 10.1080/09502380701470643

Clarke, John (2008): ‘Reconstructing Nation, State and Welfare: The Transformation of Welfare States’, Martin Seelieb-Kaiser (ed.): Welfare State Transformations: Comparative Perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 197-209.

Clarke, John (2010): ‘After Neo-liberalism? Markets, States and the Reinvention of Public Welfare’, Cultural Studies, 24:3, 375–394. DOI: 10.1080/09502381003750310

Clarke, John & Janet Newman (2010): ‘Summoning Spectres: Crises and their Construction’, Journal of Education Policy, 25:6, 709-715. DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2010.513745

Clarke, John & Janet Newman (2012): ‘The Alchemy of Austerity’, Critical Social Policy, 32: 3, 299-319. DOI: 10.1177/0261018312444405

Clarke, John, Janet Newman, Nick Smith, Elizabeth Vidler and Louise Westmarland (2007): Creating Citizen-Consumers,London: Sage Publications.

Farnsworth, Kevin (2012): Social versus Corporate Welfare: Competing Needs and Interests within the Welfare State, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1057/9780230361539

Frank, Thomas (2001): One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism and the End of Economic Democracy, New York, Anchor Books.

Gamble, Andrew (2009): The Spectre at the Feast: Capitalist Crisis and the Politics of Recession, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gibson-Graham, J. K. (1996): The End of Capitalism(as we Knew it): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Grossberg. Larry (2011): Cultural Studies in the Future Tense, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hall, Stuart, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke & Brian Roberts (1978/2013): Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order,London: Macmillan.

Jessop, Bob (2011/2013): ‘Recovered Imaginaries, Imagined Recoveries: A Cultural Political Economy of Crisis Construals and Crisis-management in the North Atlantic Financial Crisis’ http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/cperc/docs/E-2012%20Jessop-CPE-Swansea-Recovery.pdf (accessed 24 January 2014) subsequently published in Benner, Mats (ed.): Before and Beyond the Global Economic Crisis: Economics, Politics, Settlement, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Massey, Doreen (2007): World City, Cambridge: Polity.

Mitchell, Timothy, (1998): ‘Fixing the Economy’, Cultural Studies, 12:1, 82–101. DOI: 10.1080/095023898335627

Mitchell, Timothy (2006): ‘Rethinking Economy’, Geoforum, 39, 1116-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2006.11.022

Newman, Janet & John Clarke (2009): Publics, Politics and Power, London: Sage Publications.

Peck, Jamie (2001): Workfare States, New York: Guilford Press.

Peck, Jamie (2010): Constructions of Neo-Liberal Reason, Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580576.001.0001

Ruccio, David (2008): ‘Economic Representations: What’s at Stake?’, Cultural Studies, 22:1, 892-912. DOI: 10.1080/09502380701865115

Sarkozy, Nicolas (2010): Opening Speech at the Fourth World Economic Forum, Davos, 27 January: http://www.voltairenet.org/article163780.html (accessed 29 October 2013).

Thompson, E.P. (1971): ‘The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century’, Past and Present, 50: 76–136. DOI: 10.1093/past/50.1.76

Weeks, Kathi (2012a): ‘The Problem with Work’: http://libcom.org/library/problem-work-kathi-weeks (accessed 29 October 2013).

Weeks, Kathi (2012b): The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Williams, Raymond (1977): Marxism and Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Volume 6, Theme:: Theme: Capitalism: Current Crisis and Cultural Critique Edited by Johan Fornäs

, Article 5, 2014

John Clarke
Imagined, Real and Moral Economies:
Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
  • Meaghan Morris (2016). “Doing” cultural studies: Chua Beng Huat on popular culture. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 17(2): 272. DOI: 10.1080/14649373.2016.1186261

    Export in BibTex, RIS or text