1st Edition

Capitalism and its Critics Capitalism in Social and Political Theory

By Gerard Delanty, Neal Harris Copyright 2023
    220 Pages
    by Routledge

    220 Pages
    by Routledge

    Capitalism and its Critics offers an accessible account of major theories of capitalism from the industrial revolution to the present day. The book provides a comprehensive account of the economic and social thought of key theorists from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to David Harvey and Thomas Piketty.

    Capitalism has long been the subject of passionate debate, and today such contestations are perhaps more timely than ever. For its advocates, capitalism brings democracy and freedom and is the cornerstone of modernity and of progress. For its critics, capitalism is based on the exploitation of labour and is responsible for the destruction of the environment as well as colonialism. Whether capitalism survives the century, or whether an alternative social system emerges, may very well determine the fate of humanity. Capitalism and its Critics gives a comprehensive critical analysis of the most important theorists of capitalism, including Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Joseph Schumpeter, Karl Polanyi, F.A. Hayek, J.M. Keynes, David Harvey, and Thomas Piketty. The book discusses some of the main debates about capitalism and considers alternatives in the twenty-first century. The 12 chapters are loosely chronologically organised around the main approaches and historical phases in the history of capitalism. Central themes of the book are the ideas of capitalist crisis and of tensions between democracy and capitalism in the making of modernity.

    A highly readable, informative and engaging text, Capitalism and its Critics is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding capitalism and its alternatives.

    Introduction: Capitalism, Crisis and Critique

    1 From Smith to Marx: Marx’s Critique of Capitalism

    2 Weber and the Iron Cage of Modern Capitalism

    3 Schumpeter and Capitalist Crisis

    4 Karl Polanyi and the Moral Critique of Capitalism

    5 F. A. Hayek and the Emergence of Neoliberalism

    6 The Rise and Fall of Organized Capitalism: J. M. Keynes and Social Liberalism

    7 The Frankfurt School: Capitalism, Reason and Desire

    8 Late Capitalism and Capitalist Crises

    9 The Hidden Abodes of Capitalism: Environment, Gender, ‘Race’

    10 Neoliberalism Triumphant: The New Spirit of Capitalism, Networks, Globalisation

    11 The Financial Crisis and Austerity Capitalism: Responses from Thomas Piketty and David Harvey

    12 The End of Capitalism: Contemporary Critiques of Capitalism


    Gerard Delanty is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Sussex, UK. His research explores social theory and the cultural and historical analysis of social and political questions, particularly the comparative analysis of modernity in global perspective and in social change in Europe. He is the author of The Cosmopolitan Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2009), The European Heritage: A Critical Re-Interpretation (Routledge, 2017) and Critical Theory and Social Transformation (Routledge, 2020). He is also co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory (Second Edition, 2021).

    Neal Harris is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Oxford Brookes University, UK. His research explores the relationship between critical social theory (particularly the Frankfurt School) and a range of social problems, including global warming, capitalism, nationalism, patriarchy and digital totalitarianism. He is the author of Critical Theory and Social Pathology: The Frankfurt School beyond Recognition (Manchester University Press, 2022). He is also the editor of Pathology Diagnosis and Social Research: New Applications and Explorations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and co-editor of Thinking beyond Neoliberalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022).

    "Amid so much empty rhetoric and shallow theory about capitalism, pro and contra, Delanty and Harris have provided us with a book that is as lucid as it is incisive. Understanding capitalism as an intrinsically historical phenomenon, they trace its development as a concrete historical formation but also explore the evolutions in theory that have sought to understand it. This is a book that should be read widely especially by those today who would seek to create a politics to confront the destructive effects of capital."

    Michael J. Thompson, Professor of Political Theory, William Paterson University, USA

    "This outstanding book is a comprehensive guide to theories and critiques of capitalism, by two leading critical theorists."

    William Outhwaite, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Newcastle, UK

    "In concise and clear prose, Delanty and Harris line up all the great authors of the past to understand the past, present and future of capitalism. This is the book you need if you want to anticipate the coming crash!"

    Frederic Vandenberghe, Professor of Sociology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil