The current sense of crisis–in economy, ecology, politics, and society–is prompting many critical theorists to revisit the problem of capitalism. In her lecture, Nancy Fraser saluted this return to core issues of social theory after a period of neglect. But received understandings of capitalism are not adequate to 21st century conditions. Therefore Fraser proposed, accordingly, to re-examine a basic theoretical question: How is capitalism best conceptualized–as an economic system, a form of ethical life, or an institutional order? To answer this question, she integrated relatively familiar concepts from Marx, Polanyi, and Habermas with newer insights from feminist, ecological, and political theorizing. The result was an expanded conception of capitalism able better to accommodate the multiplicity of crisis tendencies and social struggles that characterize the 21st century.
Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York where she is also chair of the Department of Philosophy and Politics. Since January 2011, she has been Einstein Visiting Fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Fraser holds an international research chair in “Global Justice” at the Collège d’études mondiales in Paris and was a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies Justitia Amplificata at Goethe University Frankfurt. Over the last twenty years, she has published highly recognized books on topics such as justice, democracy, oppression and feminism.
Jan Patocka Memorial Lecture 2013; in cooperation with the Karl-Renner Institute