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The Hegemony of Finance

  • Harvard Divinity School 45 Francis Avenue Cambridge, MA, 02138 United States (map)
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The hegemony of finance compels a new orientation for everyone and everything: companies care more about the moods of their shareholders than about longstanding commercial success; governments subordinate citizen welfare to appeasing creditors; and individuals are concerned less with immediate income from labor than appreciation of their capital goods, skills, connections, and reputations.

That firms, states, and people depend more on their ratings than on the product of their activities also changes how capitalism is resisted. For activists, the focus of grievances shifts from the extraction of profit to the conditions under which financial institutions allocate credit. While the exploitation of employees by their employers has hardly been curbed, the power of investors to select investees — to decide who and what is deemed creditworthy — has become a new site of social struggle.

Join for a conversation with Michel Feher, whose new book, Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age describes the extraordinary shift in conduct and orientation generated by financialization and articulates the new political resistances and aspirations that investees draw from their rated agency.


Speaker Bios

Michel Feher, a Belgian philosopher, is the author of Powerless by Design: The Age of the International Community and the editor of Nongovernmental Politics and Europe at a Crossroads, among other titles. Founder of Cette France-là, a monitoring group on French immigration policy, Feher is also a founding editor of Zone Books.

Lenore Palladino is Senior Economist and Policy Counsel at the Roosevelt Institute, Lecturer in Economics at Smith College, and Of Counsel at the Law Firm of Jason Wiener, p.c. Her work focuses on shareholder primacy, how to rebalance stakeholder power within companies, and strategies for employee ownerships and worker cooperatives.

Quinn Slobodian is Associate Professor of History at Wellesley College. He is the author of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism.

Ministry of Ideas is a podcast dedicated to investigating and illuminating the ideas that shape our society. It is an initiative of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School. It is produced in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is featured in The Boston Globe Ideas Section. 

Boston Review is a non-profit political and literary forum that puts a range of voices and views in dialogue on the web, in print, and at events. It’s mission is to cultivate a public space for informed discussion of topics and ideas. It has been an independent publication for over 40 years, offering its online content for free, at no cost—without ads, corporate sponsors, or paywalls. 

Zone Books is an independent nonprofit publishing house founded in 1985. The publisher of a select list of titles in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, Zone Books is committed to original English-language texts as well as to the translation of significant works by contemporary authors.

Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, The Roosevelt Institute reimagines America as it should be: a place where hard work is rewarded, everyone participates, and everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We believe that when the rules work against this vision, it’s our responsibility to recreate them.

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