5070 Research Seminar: Karl Polanyi Visiting Professorship - Reflections on Society and Social Policy for the post-COVID world
em.Univ.Prof. Dr. Ayse Bugra Kavala, ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Andreas Novy
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
02/28/22 to 03/15/22
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Friday 03/18/22 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM Online-Einheit
Friday 05/13/22 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM D2.0.330
Saturday 05/14/22 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM D2.0.330
Tuesday 05/17/22 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM D2.0.330
Tuesday 05/17/22 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM TC.2.03
Friday 05/20/22 02:00 PM - 05:00 PM D2.0.038

This seminar addresses the commodity treatment of labour as a central aspect of capitalism and revisits some of the debates on key social policy problems pertaining to work, poverty and equality. It approaches capitalism as a historically changing socioeconomic order characterized by a continuous process of “creative destruction” as highlighted by Marx and draws on Polanyi’s ideas on the incompatibility of market economy with the reality of human society. The loss of livelihood and the entitlements of people caused by the developments toward the commodification of labour, the feelings of insecurity and alienation brought along by the technological and organizational innovations which lead to the devaluation of the workers’ skills and change the meaning of work, the relationship between civil, political and social rights in capitalist societies, and the possibility of democracy in a market economy include the questions pursued in the seminar.

Learning outcomes

The broad aim is to contribute to the development of a critical perspective on social policy-oriented ideas in capitalist societies. In the present environment of crisis brought along by the COVID-19 pandemic, the seminar also aims to place in a historical context the current debates on the possibilities for a post-pandemic world with a view to explore the types of policy intervention which could bring about a meaningful change in the existing socioeconomic order and social relations.

Attendance requirements

Absence in one session is permitted.


Teaching/learning method(s)

There will be four sessions:

1. Introduction to the themes pursued in the seminar and three perspectives on economy and society: Polanyi on the market society, T.H. Marshall on the tension between citizenship and social class, and Hayek on capitalism as a spontaneous order and the threat of political intervention to freedom

2. Poverty debate in a historical perspective

3. Work in industrial and post-industrial societies (Beveridge, Braverman, Sennett- The Culture of the New Capitalism, ch.2

4. Neoliberal “precariatization” and current debates around transformative policy intervention beyond the trickle -down mentality and against the commodity treatment of labour

In each session, a lecture by Ayse Bugra, on the readings and their significance for the themes pursued in the seminar will be followed by a class discussion (the list of readings will be available in February). Attendance is required and participation in seminar discussions is important.

Andreas Novy will support Ayşe Bugra on organizational issues and facilitating discussions.

  1. Regular attendance (one absence permitted) and active participation in seminar discussions.
  2. The students will be asked to prepare short oral presentations on parts of the course literature. More details will be announced (20 %).
  3. A term paper (10 to 15 double-spaced pages) on a subject related to the subjects discussed in the seminar is to be submitted by June 30 (60 %).
  4. A 5-minute oral presentation on the ideas for the term paper will be made in class (due date TBD) and a one- page written proposal will be submitted by May 30 (20 %).
Availability of lecturer(s)

Via mail:

Last edited: 2022-01-12