Financialization of Daily Life.

Today I started reading Randy Martin’s Financialization of Daily Life. Part of the conclusion of my thesis is going to gesture towards the way elements of Lukacs, Adorno and Lefebvre’s social theory are relevant today. I have a rough notion of the supraindividual aspect of this relevance worked out, but I’m still working on subjectivity. Since it has struck me in the past that one of these ways is that financialization seems to bear out Lukacs and Adorno’s diagnosis of the pervasiveness of commodification, I am hoping Martin’s book will be a good basis for working out how subjectivity might relate to these supraindividual aspects. I’m happy to say that this already seems to be the case, at least its implied in Martin’s account of how the market integration of financialization produces capitalist subjectivity, it also implies an interesting way of introducing and naturalizing contingency into subjectivity:

financialization integrates markets that were separate, like banking for business and consumers, or markets for insurance and real estate. It asks people from all walks of life to accept risks into their homes that were hithero the province of professionals. Without significant capital, people are asked to think like capitalists. 12


I should also add that I have not come across any articles on critical theory/critical marxism and financialization. This strikes me as odd. Does anyone have any they would recommend?



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Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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6 Responses to Financialization of Daily Life.

  1. Jura says:

    Well, it’s not exactly “critical theory” in the historical sense of the term, but “Capitalism with Derivatives” by Dick Bryan and Michael Rafferty is a very interesting marxist analysis of derivatives. They show in a quite detailed way how exactly the thing described in the bit from Martin that you quoted happens (derivatives as the abstracting and “homogeneizing” link between various forms of capital), and how derivatives constitute a new form of value.

    • HR says:

      Awesome! I’ve got a pdf of that I’ve been meaning to read as well. What’s even better is that since nobody seems to have linked Martin to critical theory, I can go ahead and do it myself and help substantiate the highly dubious standard of a substantial original contribution my thesis requires.


  2. Kambing says:

    If you haven’t already seen it, there’s also a 2008 article by Martin, Rafferty and Bryan on ‘Financialization, Risk and Labour’ from the journal Competition and Change (volume 12, number 2).

    This may not quite be what you’re looking for, but Fredric Jameson’s ‘Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ and David Harvey’s ‘The Condition of Postmodernity’ both take financialisation as a key part of the ‘material base’ for the cultural phenomena they describe – Harvey more explicitly than Jameson. I know you’re not a huge fan of Harvey’s reading of ‘Capital’, but I thought his ‘Condition of…’ was a decent treatment of how shifts in capitalist production and financialisation have been associated with a changing experience of space and time, as well as particular cultural and aesthetic forms. And of course Jameson offers a lot if you’re looking for Adornoian aesthetics and critical theory (though you’ll need to supply your own detailed analysis of financialisation as a distinct process… my understanding is that he basically takes Mandel’s theory of ‘late capitalism’ as a given, and overlays his aesthetic critique on that).

    • HR says:

      Thanks, I’ll check that out Kambing.

      I read the Harvey and Jameson long ago. From what I can remember I think yr right. I should add that I don’t remember Jameson linking aesthetics and his take on late capitalism/postmodernism with Adorno, in his work on Adorno, but I could be wrong about that.

  3. Kambing says:

    I think Jameson does link Adorno to postmodernity and ‘late capitalism’ in his ‘Late Marxism’ book on Adorno (and the title certainly invites such a connection). More directly, he argues that Adorno’s modernist critique anticipated certain postmodern developments, while also arguing that ‘negative dialectics’ provides a better critical framework for an analysis of postmodernity compared to the ‘positivism’ of poststructuralism. But, as is typical for him, Jameson’s argument remains at a rather abstract philosophical level, with his views on social and economic life expressed as bare assertions or even implications rather than the result of any kind of rigorous inquiry.

    I think both Harvey and Jameson’s works are sometimes unfairly relegated to the ‘waffling on about postmodernism’ pile (where so much from that period rightly belongs) – though Jameson of course is much more deeply invested in that discourse than Harvey ever was. Personally, I think that Harvey’s postmodernism book holds up better, but that may simply reflect my own disciplinary preferences (and the fact that Harvey has better taste than to have been romantically linked to Ke$ha).

    • HR says:

      I’m sure your right that Jameson does because I remember his that recount about the relevance of Adorno for postmodernity. Other than that I only really remember his discussions about Adorno’s Nietzschean anthropology. But as you say, and this might be reflective of my disciplinary training, I find Jameson quite hard to follow especially when he couches these bare assertions in sentences that string together categories from a load of theorists i’m not really familiar while drawing on theories from his other writing. I also found this to be the case with book on dialectics, although I also thought it made some interesting points.

      I also agree that Harvey and Jameson’s book on postmodernism should be distinguished from the other stuff, which is rather unremarkable

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