Information Technology, the Disappearance of Middle-class Work, and the Long-term Crisis of Capitalism
Date: September 17, 2012
Time: 12:15 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: 165 Wallace Hall
Please feel free to bring a lunch.
A long historical trend of capitalism has been to create labor-saving technology, which displaces workers and reduces consumer demand. Until recently, the displacement of working-class labor has been made up by the rise of administrative or middle-class labor. But at the turn of 21st century, information technology has begun to displace administrative labor. Five escape routes from this new form of capitalist crisis are described; none of them appears likely to save capitalism. The most plausible would be the continued growth of educational credential inflation, as a hidden welfare state or unacknowledged Keynesianism. More likely, the 21st century will see oscillation between capitalist and non-capitalist regimes.
Randall Collins, Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the leading sociologists of his generation, with significant contributions spanning the areas of social theory, microsociology, and comparative-historical macrosociology. His books include, among others, Violence: A Micro-Sociological Theory (2008), Interaction Ritual Chains (2004), Macro-History: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run (1999), and The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (1998). Professor Collins is past President of the American Sociological Association. His current research includes studies of the future of capitalism, the impact of technology on war, and the relationship between intellectual and artistic change and the dynamics of creative networks.