How capitalism affirms its Hegemony: The imperial mode of living

21 Septembre, 2023 - 10:15 - 12:15


Co-organised by CEE and AIRE, Sciences Po

Sciences Po, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris - and via Zoom


Critical social and social scientific thinking has a rich tradition of conceptualizing and concretely analyzing stability, change, and crises in capitalist societies. While mainstream social sciences usually speak of problems (to be solved) without looking at the root causes of those problems, analyses inspired by critical theory have as their starting point the inherently contradictory and also contested character of social relations. The concept of the “imperial mode of living” aims to grasp some historical and current contradictions with an emphasis on a major challenge of our times: the deepening ecological crisis and its relationship to globalizing capitalism.

The deeply rooted patterns of production and consumption, which dominate above all in the early industrialized capitalist societies, presuppose a disproportionate access to nature and labor power on a global scale. This leads to the destruction of ecosystems, the overstretching of ecological sinks, high unemployment in many countries, and an uneven division of labor which tends to place extra burden on precarious workers, women, and (undocumented) migrants.

One of developed capitalism’s characteristics is its need for a less developed or non-capitalist geographical and social “outside” from which it obtains raw materials and intermediate products, to which it shifts social and ecological burdens, and in which it appropriates both paid labor and unpaid care services. It is exclusionary and exclusive and presupposes an imperialist world order. At the same time, that order is normalized in countless and structured acts of production and consumption, which render its violent character invisible to those who benefit from it.


Ulrich Brand is a Professor for International Politics atUniversity of Vienna.

Ulrich Brand works at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna. His research focuses on the crisis of liberal globalization, international environmental and resource politics, imperial more of living, social-ecological transformations and Latin America. Among other things, he is head of the Latin America Research Network at the University of Vienna. His book, co-authored with Markus Wissen, The Imperial Mode of Living. Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism (London: Verso 2021) , in Franch Le mode de vie impérial. Vie quotidienne et crise écologique du capitalisme (Montréal/Paris: Ed. Lux 2021) was a bestseller in Germany and is translated into 12 languages.


Joost de Moor, Sciences Po, CEE & AIRE

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