Annette Freyberg-Inan introduces Hirschman, whose insights can be applied to many empirical contexts and issues. We will meet the man and his three most important books and explore how his brilliant “cutting through the crap” can be useful to us today.
Most of us remember Albert Hirschman (1915-2012) from his categorization of possible responses to dissatisfaction, economic, political or otherwise: exit or voice. And the treatise Exit, Voice, and Loyalty is indeed characteristic for his work inasmuch as it defies all disciplinary boundaries and brings simple categorizations to bear on common and complex phenomena with profoundly illuminating effect. His other most widely used book, The Passions and the Interests, traces the evolution of the modern concept of self-interest from opposition to humankind’s destructive passions to its economic narrowing and conceptualization as the central driver of social life. It is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the still evident attraction of rationalist approaches in the social sciences (or to understand the first thing about economics).
A much later key contribution is The Rhetoric of Reaction, written just after the Cold War, in which he analyzed the rhetoric of conservativism in opposition to social change as consisting of three narratives of perversity, futility, and jeopardy. His ideas for how such rhetoric might be countered to further progressive aims can help inspire us a quarter century later. Reading Hirschman, one often thinks “can it really be so simple?” and answers the question with “yes, and that really makes a lot of sense!”. Hirschman’s insights can be applied to vastly disparate empirical contexts and issue areas. We will meet the man and his three most important books and explore how his brilliant “cutting through the crap” can be useful to us today.
Annette Freyberg-Inan joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam as well as the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research in August 2003. She is Associate Professor and teaches in the fields of International/World Politics, European Politics, Political Theory, Political Psychology, and Social Science Methodology. Her research interests center on the theoretical and normative aspects of International Relations and International Political Economy, European integration and EU enlargement, and transitions in post-communist Europe and Turkey.
This lecture will be followed by a PhD seminar on 20 May, 10:00 – 12:00. Please contact Alix Nieuwenhuis (A.E.Nieuwenhuis@uva.nl) if you wish to register for the PhD seminar.
AISSR members present the work of a great thinker in the field of social sciences immersing us in key features of the social science canon and ‘Great Thinkers’ and exploring contributions across disciplinary lines. Staff members, PhD students and others interested can attend the public lecture. For AISSR PhD students the lecture can be followed by a PhD seminar with a second discussion of key readings of the respective thinker. How can you use these readings in your own research project?