Erik Olin Wright
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The Marxist claim is that the social relations within a system of production identify real mechanisms that shape the lives of people and define a terrain of conflict, and that the heart of those mechanisms is a combination of exploitation and domination.
- Homepage of Erik Olin Wright - University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
-  Utopia & Revolution Seminar - Transcript
A transcript of a seminar called Utopia & Revolution organized at the Graduate Theological Union (a consortium of seminaries in Berkeley) in January 1971.
A discussion about the ultimate goals: the highest order of principles which we would like to see accomplished in our ideal society. Before discussing specific institutions and about how to go about achieving those institutins, it is important to straighten out the difference between values and goals which are really goals and values and goals which are really means to other goals.
-  The Politics of Punishment: A Critical Analysis of Prisons in America
Harper Colophon Books.
-  Alternative perspectives in the Marxist theory of accumulation and crisis
In: Critical Sociology 6(1): 5-39. October 1975.
-  Recent Developments on Marxist Theories of the State
(with David Gold & Clarence Lo)
In: Monthly Review, 29-51. October/November 1975.
-  Class Bounderies in Advanced Capitalism
In: New Left Review 98: 3-41. July/August 1976.
-  Marxist Class Categories and Income Inequality (with Luca Perrone)
In: American Sociological Review, 42(1): 32-55. February 1977.
Marxian class categories have been almost totally ignored in systematic quantitative studies of social stratification and income inequality. Occupational status or a similar variable is almost always used as the core criterion defining the individual's position in the system of stratification. This study provides a preliminary operationalization of the Marxian class categories for use in quantitative research.
-  Intellectuals and the Working Class
In: Critical Sociolology, 8(1): 5-18. January 1978.
-  Race, Class, and Income Inequality
In: American Journal of Sociology, 83(6): 1368-1397. May 1978.
-  Class, Crisis and the State
London/New York: Verso.
-  Class Structure and Income Determination
New York: Academic Press.
-  Class and Occupation
In: Theory and Society 9(1): 177-214. January 1980.
-  The Transformation of the American Class Structure, 1960-1980
(with Bill Martin)
In: American Journal of Sociology 93(1): 1-29. July 1980.
This study explores the relationship between economic events which occurred during the 1970s and 1980s and the development of a proletarian class structure in the United States. Contrary to theoretical expectations, the data show a decisive acceleration in the growth of the managerial class. Internationalization of business and technological and organizational changes are factors which contributed to this result.
-  Varieties of Marxist Conceptions of Class Structure
In: Politics & Society, 9(3): 323-70. September 1980.
-  The Value Controversy in Social Research
In: Ian Steedman  The Value Controversy.
London/New York: Verso. pp. 36-74.
-  Reconsiderations
In: Ian Steedman  The Value Controversy.
London: Verso. pp. 130-162.
-  Proletarianization in the American Class Structure (with Joachim Singelmann)
In: Marxist Inquiries, Supplement to the American Journal of Sociology, vol. 88.
-  The Status of the Political in the Concept of Class Structure
In: Politics and Society 11(3):321-341. September 1982.
-  The American Class Structure
(with Cynthia Costella, David Hacken & Joey Sprague)
In: American Sociological Review, 47:709-26. December 1982.
The first systematic investigation of the American class structure based on data gathered from a Marxian, relational perspective. Classes are defined in terms of social relations of control over investments, decision making, other peoples work, and ones own work. The results show that the working class is by far the largest class in the American class structure and that the half of all class locations have contradictory character. Lower status white-collar occupations are virtually as proletarianized as manual occupations. Women and blacks are considerably more proletarianized than white males.
-  Capitalisms futures
In: Socialist Review 68: 112-156.
-  Giddens Critique of Marxism
In: New Left Review, 138:11-35. March/April 1983.
-  A General Framework for the Analysis of Class Structure
In: Politics & Society, 13: 383-423. December 1984.
Reprinted in Wright 1985: 3-43
-  Classes
-  Was bedeutet neo und was heißt marxistisch in der neomarxistischen Klassenanalyse
In: Strasser, Herman / Goldthorpe, John H.  Die Analyse sozialer Ungleichheit - Kontinuität, Erneuerung, Innovation.
Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. pp. 238-66.
-  Inequality
In: John Eatwell  The New Palgrave.
London: Macmillan, pp. 4773-4781.
-  Reflections on Classes
In: Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 32: 19-49.
-  A Reply to Burowoys Comments on Reflections on Classes
In: Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 32: 73-78.
 Temporality and Class Analysis: A Comparative Study of the Effects of Class Trajectory and Class Structure on Class Consciousness in Sweden and the United States (with Kwang-Yeong Shin)
In: Sociological Theory 6(1): 58-84. Spring 1988.
-  The Comparative Project on Class Structure and Class Consciousness: An Overview
In: Acta Sociologica, 32(1): 3-22.
A general introduction to the theoretical and empirical objectives of the Comparitive Project on Class Structure and Class Consciousness, along with a set of brief summaries of some of the core findings of the initial empirical analyses done by the American research group.
-  Women in the class structure
In: Politics and Society 17:35-66. March 1989.
-  The Debate on Classes
- Exchange on Classes [pp. 47-104]
A discussion between Erik Olin Wright and Michael Burawoy. Wright uses the tools of analytical Marxism to resolve some of the long-standing problems in contemporary class theory. From differing perspectives critics of Wrights work deploy a range of empirical data from studies undertaken in a number of countries. Burowoy and Wright address questions as varied as the concept of «contradictory class locations», the continuing coherence of Marxist approaches to class, the relation between stratification and social development, as well as the contentious roles of gender and ethnicity in generating inequality, and the central problem of the import of consciousness and concrete political activity on class composition. Included are Wrights own responses and reformulations in the light of these criticisms.
- Rethinking, Once Again, the Concept of Class Structure, [pp. 269-348]
-  Falling Into Marxism, Choosing to Stay
In: Mid-American Review of Sociology, 15(2): 1-14.
-  The Relative Permeability of Class Boundaries to Cross-Class Friendships: A comparative Study of the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Norway
(with Donmoon Cho)
In: American Sociological Review, 57(1):85-102. February 1992.
The structural analysis of social classes encompasses not only the analysis of class location, but also the analysis of permeability of boundaries separating those locations. The authors examine pattern of friedship tier accross class boundaries in four capitalist societies. They conclude (i) that the property-based class boundary is the least permeable of the three exploitation dimensions (property, authority and expertice); (ii) that the authority-based class boundary is significantly more permeable than the expertise-based bounderies; and (iii) that pattern of inter-class friendships are largely invariant across these four countries.
-  Non-Effects of Class on the Division of Labor in the Home: A Comparative Study of Sweden and the United States
(with Karen Shire, Shu-Ling Hwang, Maureen Dolan and Janeen Baxter)
In: The Gender and Society 6: 252-282. June 1992.
An exploration of the relationship between class and the gendered domestic division of labour. Using data from the United States and Sweden the authors examine how the contribution by husbands to housework indual-career families varies across the class system. The findings indicate that location in the class structure is not a powerful or systematic determinant of variations in the division of labor across households.
-  Reconstructing Marxism: Essays on Explanation and the Theory of History (with Andrew Levine & Elliot Sober)
-  Interrogating Inequality: Essays on Class Analysis, Socialism and Marxism
-  The Class Analysis of Poverty
In: International Journal of Health Services 25(1): 85-100. January 1995.
There are four general approaches to explaining poverty: poverty as a result of inherent individual attributes, as the by-product of contingent individual characteristics, as a by-product of social causes, and as a result of inherent properties of the social system.
Wright elaborates a class exploitation analysis of poverty by explaining how economic oppression, economic exploitation, and class generate a social system in which poverty plays a crucial functional role. The general problem of poverty must be broken down into two subproblems: poverty generated inside exploitative relations (the working poor) and poverty generated by nonexploitative oppression (the underclass). A class analysis of poverty argues that significant numbers of privileged people have a strong, positive material interest in maintaining poverty. Poverty can be reduced only through popular mobilization of pressure that challenges the power of the dominant classes.
- Novak, Tony  The class analysis of poverty: a response to Erik Olin Wright
In: International Journal of Health Services 26(1): 187-195.
Novak takes issue with Wrights analysis of class relations and in particular the position of the underclass. He offers instead an analysis that identifies poverty as a peculiar feature of capitalism and its class relationships, pointing to the need for a broader understanding of poverty and of the political forces that need to be mobilized for its eradication.
- Erik Olin Wright  The Class Analysis of Poverty: A Response to Tony Novak
In: International Journal of Health Services, 26(2): 371-380.
Contrary to Novaks views, a class analysis of poverty should define poverty in terms of both income-poverty and asset-poverty. Novak is correct that the term «underclass» often has a pejorative meaning, But it remains an important concept for identifying segments of the population that are deeply oppressed economically, but not exploited. The concepts of class analysis must be elaborated at a variety of levels of abstraction, not simply the highest level of the pure «mode of production», as is implied by Novaks arguments. Class analysis must acknowledge and conceptualize the specific forms of complexity of contemporary class structures, which is impossible if it restricts its class concepts to a simple polarized notion.
- Chernomas Robert / Sepehri Ardeshir 
The class analysis of poverty: is the underclass living off the socially available surplus?
In: International Journal of Health Services, 27(2): 381-383.
Wright argued that the U.S. underclass is a drain on the socially available surplus and thus a hindrance to capital accumulation. His argument is not supported by available evidence from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom on the states distributive activities. This evidence suggests that the social welfare necessary to sustain the underclass is provided by transfers from wage and salary earners rather than from profit.
-  The Gender Gap in Workplace Authority: A Cross-National Study (with Janeen Baxter & Gunn Elisabeth Birkelund)
In: American Sociological Review, 6(1): 407-435. June 1995.
A comparative analysis of the gender gap in workplace authority in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Norway and Japan. The gender gap in authority show a considerable cross-national variation (lowest in the English-speaking countries and highest in Japan). These variation are not the result of gender differences in personal attributes or employment setting, but can be explained by the interaction between the availability of managerial positions and the capacity of politically organized womens movements to challenge barriers to women gaining authority in the workplace.
-  Review of Peter Evans, Embedded Autonomy
In: Contemporary Sociology, 25(2): 176-179. March 1996.
-  The Continuing Relevance of Class Analysis - Comments
In: Theory and Society 25(5): 693-716. October 1996.
Class primacy as a generalized explanatory principle across all social explananda are implausible. Nevertheless, class remains a significant and sometimes powerful determinant of many aspects of social life. Class boundaries, especially the property boundary, continue to constitute real barriers in peoples lives; inequalities in the distribution of capital assets continue to have real consequences for material interests; capitalist firms continue to face the problem of extracting labor effort from non-owning employees; and class location continues to have real, if variable, impacts on individual subjectivities.
-  Equality, Community, and Efficient Redistribution
In: Politics & Society, 24(4): 353-367. December 1996.
-  Class Counts: Comparative Studies in Class Analysis
Cambridge University Press.
-  Working Class Power, Capitalist Interest, and Class Compromise
-  Experiments in Empowered Deliberative Democracy (with Archon Fung)
-  Foundations of Class Analysis: A Marxist Perspective
Paper presented at the panel of The Foundations of class analysis, the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Chicago, July 1999.
-  Real Utopian Proposals for reducing Income and wealth Inequality
-  Working-Class Power, Capitalist-Class Interests, and Class Compromise
In: American Journal of Sociology, 105(4): 957-1002. January 2000.
Wright proposes a general theoretical framework for understanding
the concept of class compromise in terms of a reverse-J
model of the relationship between the associational power of
workers and the interests of capitalists: increases in working-class
power adversely affect capitalist-class interests until such power
crosses some intermediate threshold beyond which further increases
in working-class power are potentially beneficial to capitalists interests. Wright argues that the reverse-J curve is itself the result of two distinct kinds of effects of workers power on capitalists interests: (i) a negative effect, in which workers power undermines the capacity of capitalists to unilaterally make various kinds of decisions, and (ii) a positive effect, in which workers power helps capitalists solve the various kinds of collective action problems they face.
-  Metatheoretical Foundations of Charles Tillys Durable Inequality
In: Comparative Studies in Society and History, 4293): 458-474. April 2000.
Revised version of a paper presented at panel on Charles Tillys Durable Inequality at the Social Science History Conference, Chicago Illinois, November 20-23, 1998.
-  The Glass Ceiling Hypothesis: A Comparative Study of United States, Sweden and Australia (with Janeen Baxter)
In: Gender & Society, 14(2): 275-294. April 2000.
The glass ceiling hypothesis states that not only is it more difficult for women than for men to be promoted up levels of authority hierarchies within workplaces but also that the obstacles women face relative to men become greater as they move up the hierarchy. Gender-based discrimination in promotions is present across levels of hierarchy but is more intense at higher levels. This implies that the relative rates of women being promoted to higher levels compared to men should decline with the level of the hierarchy. This article explores this hypothesis with data from the United States, Australia, and Sweden. The basic conclusion is that while there is strong evidence for a general gender gap in authority there is no evidence for systematic glass ceiling effects in the United States and only weak evidence for such effects in the other two countries.
-  Class, Exploitation, and Economic Rents: Reflections on Sørensens Sounder Basis
In: American Sociological Review, 105(6): 1559-1571. May 2000.
Sørensen endorses the traditional Marxist idea that exploitation is central to understanding the ways in which class relations
generate inequalities and antagonisms of material interests, but proposes that the Marxist approach to exploitation be replaced by one which identifies exploitation with economic rents. Wright criticizes this proposal on two principle grounds: (i) Sørensens proposal fail to distinguish between situations in which exploiters actively need the exploited and situations in which they simply gain advantages at the expense of the exploited. Both of these situations generate antagonistic material interests, but in only the former is it the
case that material welfare of the exploiter depends upon some level of cooperation by the exploited. (ii) Sørensens approach fails to recognize the ways in which the ownership of capital generates antagonisms of material interests with workers. Although rent and exploitation are closely connected, Wright rejects the equation of the exploitation with rent.
-  The American Jobs Machine (with Rachel Dwyer)
September 8, 2000.
-  Foundations of Class Analysis in the Marxist Tradition
-  Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance (with Archon Fung)
Volume IV in the Real Utopias Project. April 18, 2001
-  Sociological Marxism (with Michael Burawoy)
In: Jonathan H. Turner (ed.)  Handbook of Sociological Theory.
New York: Plenum Publisher.
-  Complex Egalitarianism (with Harry Brighouse)
In:  Historical Materialism, 10(1): 193-222. Leiden: Brill.
A review of Alex Callinicos  Inequality. Cambridge: Polity Press.
-  The Shadow of Exploitation in Webers Class Analysis
In: American Sociological Review 67:832-853. December 2002.
Wright analyses the inner structure of Webers concept of class, its similarities and differences from Marxs concept, and its relationship to the problem of exploitation. He uses this interrogation of Webers work to defend the importance of the concept of exploitation for sociological theory. For Weber class is the way economic power is distributed when economic action is organized to the greatest degree in an instrumentally-rational manner. The problem of exploitation the extraction of labor effort from workers is treated primarily as a problem of technical efficiency and economic rationality in creating work incentives and effective discipline. This conceptualization leads to a relatively impoverished understanding of the nature of antagonistic interests generated by class relations.
-  The patterns of job expansions in the USA: a comparison of the 1960s and 1990s (with Rachel E. Dwyer)
In: Socio-economic Review, 1(3): 289-325. September 2003.
-  Beneficial Constraints: beneficial for whom?
In: Socio-economic Review, 2: 461-467.
-  Social Class
In: George Ritzer (ed.) Encyclopedia of Social Theory. New York: Sage.
-  (ed.) Approaches to Class Analysis
Cambridge University Press.
-  Basic Income as a Socialist Project
Paper presented at the annual US-BIG Congress, March 4-6, 2005.
-  Basic Income as a Socialist Project
In: Rutgers Journal of Law & Urban Policy, 2(1); 196-203. Fall 2005.
-  From Stratification to Class Analysis (and back again?)
Paper presented at the American Sociological Association annual meetings, August 2005.
-  Class
In: Jens Beckert / Milan Zafirovsky (eds.)  International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology. Routledge, pp. 62-68.
-  Falling into Marxism, Choosing to Stay
In: Alan Sica / Stephen Turner (eds.)  The Disobedient Generation: Social Theorists in the Sixtees. University of Chicago Press. pp. 325-349.
-  Basic Income, Stakeholders Grants, and Class Analysis
In: Bruce Ackerman / Anne Alstott / Philippe van Parijs (eds.)  Redesigning Redistribution: Basic Income and Stakeholder Grants as Cornerstones for a More Egalitarian Capitalism. Volume 5 in The
Real Utopias project. pp. 79-82.
The first conference of the Real Utopias Project discussed the proposal for what is variously called citizen dividends, Basic income Grants, or unconditional guaranteed income. In this conference the basic income idea is contrasted with other prominent proposals for redesigning redistribution, particularly the proposal by Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott for large stakeholder grants to be given to all citizens upon reaching the age of majority. The conference was held in May 2003.
-  Two Redistributive Proposals universal basic income and stakeholder grants
In: Focus, 24(2): 4-7.
Wright discusses two provocative proposals for radical redesigns
of distributive institutions: the Universal Basic Income (elaborated
by Philippe van Parijs) and Stakeholder Grants (elaborated
by Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott). While both of these proposals contain a range of complex details, as ideals they are both based on very simple principles.
-  Compass Points: Towards a Socialist Alternative | Spanish | French
In: New Left Review, 41: 93-124. September-October 2006.
The particular institutional arrangements historically associated with «socialism» are now seen as incapable of
delivering on their promises. But many of the traditional socialist criticisms of capitalism seem more appropriate than ever: inequality, economic polarization and job insecurity are worsening; giant corporations dominate the media and cultural production; politics is increasingly run by big money and unresponsive to those without it. The need for a vibrant alternative to capitalism is as great as ever. Wright proposes a way of thinking about a socialist alternative
to capitalism that begins from the observation that both social democracy and socialism contain the word social.
-  Imaginando Utopías Reales
A lecture at the University of Buenos Aires, 2007.
-  Sociologists and Economists on The Commons
In: Pranhab Bardhan / Isha Ray (eds.)  The Contested Commons. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 234-238.
-  Three Logics of Job Creation in Capitalist Economies
Presentation at the American Sociological Association panel on: Globalization and Work: challenges and responsibilities, August 2008
-  Strong Gender Egalitarianism (with Harry Brighouse)
In: Janet Gornick / Marcia Meyers (eds.)  Gender Equality: Transforming Divisions of Labor in the Family. Volume VI in the Real Utopias Project. London/New York: Verso. Chapter 3: 79-92.
-  From Grand Paradigm Battles to Pragmatist Realism: Towards an Integrated Class Analysis
Paper written for a conference on Comprehending Class, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. July 2009.
-  Understanding Class: Towards an Integrated Analytical Approach
In: New Left Review 60: 101-116. November/December 2009.
-  The Real Utopias Project: a general overview
-  American Society: how it really works (with Joel Rogers)
New York: W.W. Norton. August 2010.
See also Wrights Introduction and Conclusion.
The authors ask several crucial questions: What kind of society is American society? How does it really work? Why is it the way it is? In what ways does it need changing, and how can those changes be brought about? They explore the implications of these questions by examining five key values that most Americans believe our society should realize: Freedom, Prosperity, Efficiency, Fairness, and Democracy. Its an unique introduction to balance different sociological perspectives. To what degree contemporary American society realizes these values? And how might Americans solve some of the social problems that confront this nation today?
-  Envisioning Real Utopias
London/New York: Verso.
Rising inequality of income and power, along with convulsions in the finance sector, have made the search for alternatives to unbridled capitalism more urgent than ever. Yet few are attempting this task most analysts argue that any attempt to rethink our social and economic relations is utopian. This book is a comprehensive assault on the quietism of contemporary social theory. A systematic reconstruction of the core values and feasible goals for Left theorists and political actors, lays the foundations for a set of concrete, emancipatory alternatives to the capitalist system.
-  The Triadic model of Society in Somers Genealogies of Citizenship
In: Socio-economic Review, 9: 405-418.
Also published in: Trajectories, 22(2): 8-43. Spring 2011.
-  Real Utopias
In: Contexts, 10(2): 36-42. Spring 2011.
We live in a world in which much human suffering is the result of the
organization of our social structures and institutions. But while we live in a social world that generates harms, we also
have the capacity to imagine alternative worlds where such
harms are absent. Utopia is a place in the imagination of peace and harmony, of flourishing lives and happiness; it is a fantasy world where our ideals of a just and good society are fully realized. Utopia reflects the human longing for escape from the oppressions, disappointments, and harsh realities of the real social world.
-  The Wisconsin Protests (with João Alexandre Peschanski)
In February and March, 2011, the state of Wisconsin witnessed the largest, most sustained political protests in its history. During these protests, the state capitol building in Madison was
occupied by thousands of people for 17 days and rallies outside of the building reached over 100,000 people. The Wisconsin protests received tremendous national media attention, and were soon followed by labor mobilizations in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Maine. The authors reconstruct the story of these events.
-  In defense of Genderlessness
In: Axel Grosseries / Yannick Vanderborght (eds)  Arguing about Justice: Essays for Philippe van Parijs. Presses Universitaires de Louvain. pp. 403-413.
-  Real Utopias in and beyond Capitalism: Taking the Social in Socialism Seriously
Fifth Annual Nicos Poulantzas Memorial Lecture in Athens, Greece. December 19. 2011.
-  Taking the social in socialism seriously | idem
In: Socio-economic Review, 10(2): 386-402. April 2012.
-  Class Struggle and Class Compromise in the Era of Stagnation and Crisis
In: Transform! European journal for alternative thinking and political dialogue, 11: 22-44.
Based on a presentation given at the Nicos Poulantzas Institute, Athens, Greece, in December 19, 2011.
-  Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias
In: American Sociological Review, 78(1): 1-25. February 2013.
In German, published as Durch Realutopien den Kapitalismus transformieren. in: Michael Brie (ed.)  Beiträge zur
kritischen Transformationsforschung. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. pp.59-106.
Wright explores a broad framework for thinking sociologically about emancipatory alternatives to dominant institutions and social structures, especially capitalism. The framework is grounded in two foundational propositions: (1) Many forms of human suffering and many deficits in human flourishing are the result of existing institutions and social structures. (2) Transforming existing institutions and social structures in the right way has the potential to substantially reduce human suffering and expand the possibilities for human flourishing. An emancipatory social science responding to these propositions faces four broad tasks: (i) specifying the moral principles for judging social institutions; (ii) using these moral principles as the standards for diagnosis and critique of existing institutions; (iii) developing an account of viable alternatives in response to the critique; and (iv) proposing a theory of transformation for realizing those alternatives.
-  Class, State and Ideology - An Introduction to Social Science in the Marxist Tradition (Syllabus + Outlines + Podcasts)
-  American Society: how it really works (Syllabus) + Videos of lectures
Sociology 125. Fall 2014.
- [2014/16] Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy | ebook
(with Robin Hahnel)
London/New York: Verso. November 2014.
Poverty, exploitation, instability, hierarchy, subordination, environmental exhaustion, radical inequalities of wealth and power it is not difficult to list capitalisms myriad injustices. But is there a preferable and workable alternative? What would a viable free and democratic free society look like? The discussion between economist Robert Hahnel and sociologist Erik Olin Wright revolves around the crucial but oft-neglected question of what kind of society should we be fighting for instead of capitalism. Hahnel favours participatory economics, Wright advocates real utopiian socialism.
-  Is the Precariat a Class?
In: Global Labor Journal, 7(2): 123-135. April 2015.
The «precariat» consists of people whose lives are characterized by precariousness within the relations of production, vulnerability within the relations of distribution, and marginality within the relations to the state. Can the precariat be regarded as a class in its own right?
Wright proposes a test for whether two locations within the
socio-economic structure should be treated as in the same class or different classes based on an evaluation of material interests defined with respect to different forms of struggle. He concludes
that while there are grounds for treating the precariat as a particularly vulnerable segment of the working class, it is not a class in its own right.
-  Class and Inequality in Piketty
In: Contexts, Winter 2015.
Wirght praises Piketty for his detailed analysis of the trajectory of two dimensions of economic inequality: income and wealth. The central observations of Pikettys are (i) the U-shaped graph of the share of national income going to the top layers of the income distribution; (ii) the sharp rise in income share of the top income decile is largely the result of the dramatic rise in income share of the top 1%; and (iii) there is considerable variation across countries in the degree to which concentration increased by the
centurys end. Pikkety deserves credit for contributing to the growing attention to inequality. But Piketty gets it wrong by treating capital and labor exclusively as factors of production each
earning a return. If we want to really understand and even alter whats going on as inequality creates social and economic distance, we must go beyond income and wealth trends to identify the class relations that generate escalating economic inequality..
-  Sociological limitations of the climate change encyclical
In: Nature climate Change, 5, October 2015
-  Eroding Capitalism: A Comment on Stuart Whites Basic Capital in the Egalitarian Toolkit
In: Journal of Applied Philosophy, 32(4): 432-439. November 2015.
Wright argues that unconditional Basic Income has a greater
potential to erode capitalism than does Basic Capital. While both of these policies in the egalitarian toolkit may make the economic system statically more just, over time Basic Capital grants are likely to strengthen capitalism as the core structure of the economic system, whereas unconditional Basic Income has the potential to erode the dominance of capitalism. As part of a long-term project of human emancipation, therefore, unconditional Basic Income should have
priority over Basic Capital.
-  How to be an Anticapitalist Today
In: Jacobin, 12.2.2015.
-  Why Class Matters
In: Jacobin, 12.13.2015.
-  How to Think About (and Win) Socialism
In: Jacobin, 4.27.2016.
-  Two approaches to Inequality and their Normative Implications
In: Items: insights from the Social sciences. SSRC. July 2016.
There is something intuitively appealing about the individual attributes approach to inequality. After all, the income distribution is a distribution across persons. It seems natural, therefore, to believe that this distribution is explained by the distribution of other properties across the same individuals. Countless studies have demonstrated that a range of social factors play a crucial role in shaping such individual market capacities: racial and gender discrimination, the quality of schools, childrearing practices, neighborhood characteristics, and so on. Social causes are thus relevant for explaining inequalities in income and economic status, but they work through the inequalities in the attributes of persons, not directly on the income distribution itself. The central idea of structural approaches to inequality is that while the attributes and efforts of persons may explain who ends up in what position, they do not adequately explain the distribution of the positions themselves. Power relations shape the distribution of opportunities, and thus inequalities, in ways that are beyond what can be captured by a perspective that focuses on individual attributes alone.
-  Real Utopias and the Dilemmas of Institutional Transformation
In: Justice, Power and Resistance, 1(1): 33-52.
The idea of real utopias is a way of thinking about emancipatory alternatives to existing institutions of domination and inequality, about both the destinations to which we aspire and the strategies for getting there. Wright elaborates the values embodied in the idea of real utopias, explores the strategic problem of transforming society in ways that advance these values, and examines the dilemmas of creating real utopias in situations where the optimal design for ameliorating the harms of existing institutions is not the same as constructing real utopias.
-  Understanding Class
London/New York: Verso.
Real Utopia Project
The Real Utopias Project, begun in 1991, explores a wide range of proposals and models for radical social change. The basic idea is to combine serious normative discussions of the underlying principles and rationales for different emancipatory visions with the analysis of pragmatic problems of institutional design.
The Real Utopias Project embraces a tension between dreams and practice. It is founded on the belief that what is pragmatically possible is not fixed independently of our imaginations, but is itself shaped by our visions. The fulfillment of such a belief involves real utopias': utopian ideals that are grounded in the real potentials for redesigning social institutions.
The Real Utopias Project examines various basic institutions-property rights and the market, secondary associations, the family, the welfare state, among others-and focuses on specific proposals for their fundamental redesign. The books in the series are the result of workshop conferences, at which groups of scholars are invited to respond to provocative manuscripts.
-  Volume I. Associations and Democracy - Joshua Cohen & Joel Rogers
Edited and introduced by Erik Olin Wright
London: Verso 1995.
In Secundary Associations and Democratic Governance (pp. 393-472] Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers advance an innovative scheme for rejuvenating the democratic state. Their proposal involves the strengthening of secondary associations, organizations like unions, works councils, neighborhood associations, parent-teacher groups and womens societies. These secondary associations are effective vehicles for the representation and formulation of the interests of citizens. With enlivened secondary associations mediating between individual citizens and the state, active participation in the political process can be expanded and democracy enhanced. Such an approach raises a number of thorny issues: Can such associations retain their independence from government if they are pulled further into the political sphere? Will a shift from territorial to functional representation further fragment an already divided polity?
-  Volume II. Equal Shares: Making Market Socialism Work - John E. Roemer
Edited by and introducted by Erik Olin Wright.
London: Verso. September 1996.
-  Volume III. Recasting Egalitarianism: New Rules for Communities, States and Markets - Sam Bowles & Herbert Gintis
Edited by Erik Olin Wright
London: Verso. January 1999.
-  Volume IV. Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance - Archon Fung & Erik Olin Wright
Edited by Erik Olin Wright
London: Verso. January 2003.
Includes the introduction of Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright: Thinking about Empowered Participatory Gorvernance [pp. 3-44] and the epilogue: Countervailing Power in
Empowered Participatory Governance [259-290].
-  Volume V. Redesigning Distribution: Basic Income and Stakeholder Grants as Cornerstones for an Egalitarian Capitalism - Bruce Ackerman, Anne Alstott & Philippe Van Parijs
Edited and introduced by Erik Olin Wright.
London: Verso. December 2005.
-  VI. Gender Equality: Transforming Family Divisions of Labor - Janet C. Gornick & Marcia K. Meyers
Edited and prefaced by Erik Olin Wright.
London: Verso. August 2009.
-  Reflections on Marxism, Class and Politics
Interview by Chronis Polychroniou. February 2001.
The first question is: Why this commitment to the problematic of
class and to the interrogation of inequality? Wrights describes two main groundings. (1e) The most important, is his moral commitment to a radical egalitarian vision of the just and good society. (2e) His commitment to class analysis is also grounded in a scientific belief: the belief that class inequality constitutes the most important socially structured axis of inequality that a radical egalitarian project confronts. [...] Class inequality and the institutions which reproduce that inequality are deeply implicated in all other forms of inequality and that, as a result, whatever else one must do as part of a radical egalitarian political project, one must understand how class works.
-  Interview with Erik Olin Wright - by Mark Kirby
In: Social Science Teacher. April 2001.
-  Entrevista: Erik Olin Wright e Michael Burawoy | English - by Ruy Braga & Alvaro Bianchi
In: Cult, 122. February 2008.
Wright and Burawoy are trying to find answers to questions like: Why socialism failed in the USA? Why there wasnt a strong socialist movement in the USA? How you evaluate such flourishing of theoretical Marxism in the US after 1968?
-  Erik Olin Wright responses to questions posed by Ladinamo
February 2, 2010.
-  An interview with Erik Olin Wright: When I Began My Work, My Fantasy Was That Marxism Would Once and for all Defeat Sociology…
In: Economic Sociology, 11(2). March 2010.
Marxism constitutes one of the most powerful and coherent bodies of ideas to engage a range of really important problems, but it is not a comprehensive paradigm of everything, its not a grand theory of all things social. It is a theoretical attempt to give precision to a set of mechanisms that play a fundamental role for certain kinds of problems. [...] The problems I work on are problems for which I think the best concepts and arguments and accounts of mechanisms available come from the Marxism tradition. [...] Marxism may not be the only game in town any more, but it is still the best game if youre interested in the critique of domination, and exploitation and oppression, if the reason why you wanted to study society is because of the moral intolerability of poverty in the midst of plenty.
-  Metamorphose statt Revolution - by Lia Petridis Maiello
In: Jungleworld, 14(8). April 2010.
An egalitarian society is one in which all people have equal access to the necessary social and material means to lead a flourishing life.
-  Utopia, this time for real - by Mike Young
In: University Post, Copenhagen.
Neo-liberalism is a utopian illusion of the worst sort, it imagines that a world that is driven by the motives of greed and fear and organised through unfettered market competition, will provide for the best conditions for human beings to thrive. It is an absurd idea, a utopian fantasy, and it is just as destructive as simple-minded communism: the idea that perfection can be accomplished through simple one-dimensional institutional devices. [...] The collapse of communism and the triumph of neo-liberalism has led to a narrowing of peoples vision of what is possible.
-  Interview by Joshn Brandon [39:42]
In the program Mud and Water Radio on Winnipeg radio station CKUW.
-  Interview on Marxism and Capitalism, Part 1 [8:37]
| Part 2 [10:01]
| Part 3
| Part 4 [12:37]
| Part 5 [13:45]
Askimo TV. Spring 2013.
-  Erik Olin Wright on models for a Post-Capitalist Unconditional Basic Income [58:50] - by C.S. Soong
Against the Grain (KPFA). April 5, 2016.
Wright Live: videos
-  Erik Olin Wrights The Chess Game [6:55]
A 16mm film made in 1968 concerning the dilemmas of revolution. You cant dance a square dance on a chess board.
-  Experiments in Popular Democracy: Is it Really Possible to Democratize the Capitalist State - Part 1 [01:01:44] | Part 2 [34:17]
In: Left Forum.
A panel discussion with Hilary Wainwright, Johanna Brenner & Sujatha Fernandes.
-  Global Sociology: Erik Wright on Real Utopias in and Beyond Capitalism [1:10:17]
-  Envisioning Real Utopias - in and beyond Capitalism [45:22]
Video of the Luxemburg Lecture. Wright gives an introduction into his theories of transformation, the rethinking of real alternatives. He talks about the configurations of social empowerment.
-  Transforming Capitalism Through Real Utopias [1:57:10]
The David Frisby Memorial Lecture 2013. University of Glasgow. March 1, 2013
-  LookLeft Forum: Erik Olin Wright [34:18]
Realising a Left Alternative, Teachers Club Dublin. March 2, 2013.
-  A Sociology of Real Utopias [30:51]
Presidential Plenary II: Alternatives to an Unequal World
ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, 2014
-  Alternatives to an Unequal World [30:51]
Lecture at the ISA World Congress of Sociology, 2014.
-  Conversation with Professor Erik Olin Wright [10:59]
-  Transcending capitalism through real utopias [33:26]
Erik Olin Wright in-depth discussion on transitions away from capitalism at the SCORAI Colloquium Series, Boston, Massachusetts, January 21, 2015. The expansion of markets and pressures for endless growth in material consumption are not contingent features of a dynamic capitalist economy; they are intrinsic to an economy rooted in the competitive drive for profits and capital accumulation. Any serious effort to counteract systemic consumerism, therefore, must also attempt to transcend capitalism.
-  Challenging (and may be Transgendering) Capitalism Through Real Utopias [1:46:11]
In the 8th Annual Wheelwright Lecture (5th of August, 2015) Wright presented a typology of oppositional responses to capitalism and also developed his theme that the new is growing within the shell of the old.
-  Understanding Class [1:56:27]
At a public lecture held at Wits University, Erik Olin Wright talks about Understanding Class.
Listen to Wright: Postcasts
Three Criteria for Defining Exploitation
- Inverse Interdependent Welfare Principle
The material welfare of the advantaged group of people causally depends upon the material deprivations of the disadvantaged.
- The Exclusion Principle
The causal relation in (a) involves the exclusion of the disadvantaged group from access to certain important productive resources controlled by the advantaged group.
- The Labor Appropriation Principle
The causal mechanism which translates (b) exclusion into (a) differential welfare involves the appropriation of the fruits of labor of the disadvantaged group by those who control these productive resources.
Exploitation = (a) + (b) + (c)
In: The Story of Lll Abner & the Shmoo
Texts on Wright
Discussion & Communication
dr. Albert Benschop
Social & Behavioral Studies
University of Amsterdam
18th March, 2017