‘Economic Science Fictions’

Call for essays

The newly established Goldsmiths Press will be publishing a collection of essays on the topic of ‘economic science fictions’. The volume will be edited by Will Davies, Co-Director of PERC, and encompass various disciplinary perspectives, writing styles, including fiction and non-fiction. This builds on PERC’s launch event, at which Professor Ha-Joon Chang spoke on the topic ‘what can economics learn from science fiction?‘.

We are inviting proposals for additional contributions to this volume. Proposals should be no more than 300 words, and offer an overview of what the chapter will explore, what style and approach it will adopt, and which of the themes outlined below it will address. We particularly welcome contributions from designers and design theorists which reflect on how economic institutions are amenable to (re)design. If you are interested in contributing, please email Will Davies with an outline and short biog (including any publications you’ve written for in the past) by 20th May. If proposals are accepted, full drafts will be required in late September.

About the book

Contemporary capitalism suffers from a grave shortage of alternative futures. While the dominant models of markets, of property, of money, of regulation no longer inspire much confidence, let alone enthusiasm, our contemporary fate is to repeat them regardless. Blank repetition of the status quo signals a society without the capacity to exercise economic imagination or economic design. The function of debt is precisely to ensure that such possibilities remain unexplored, creating bonds to the past, rather than blueprints for the future.

What we lack is ‘economic science fiction’, that is, the capacity to inject a modernist design ethos into institutions and practices which have come to feel permanent. This may also enable us to reconsider the present as the effect of past ‘science fictions’, and the on-going fictions as repeated by economists, financial services, accountants and managers. This is not simply about the need to revive utopian thinking, but also about the value of prosaic acts of institutional re-design, which go on in everyday situations. It is also about the need to open up the expert discourse of economics to a broader range of voices and styles, and to explore the overlap between economic ‘science’ and economic ‘fiction’. And it is an effort to re-capture the meaning of economic ‘creativity’ from its repetitive business usage.

This collection will bring together around 15-20 short chapters (circa 2,000-5,000 words each) from contributors inside and outside of Goldsmiths, from across economics and other social sciences, and also from creative and artistic spheres, such as creative writing and design.

Chapter topics could include:

  • What is ‘economic science fiction’?
  • Orthodox economics as a ‘science fiction’
  • Designing alternative futures: what do economic blueprints look like?
  • The art of writing an ‘economic science fiction’
  • Enclaves of utopian thinking: where (and by whom) will economic science fictions be crafted?
  • Alternative currencies or alternative property rights as ‘economic science fictions’
  • Postcapitalist organisations as ‘economics science fictions’
  • Economic science fictions of the past: excavating dead utopias
  • Prosaic acts of everyday fiction-building

Ha-Joon Chang’s PERC lecture will be included. We can also confirm contributions from Miriam Cherry, Mark Fisher, Judy Thorne, Owen Hatherley, amongst others.

Contributors are encouraged to write for a general readership and to explore ideas and opinions from a diversity of cultures and standpoints.

About the editor

Will Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Goldsmiths and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Centre. He is author of The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition (Sage, 2014) and The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing (Verso 2015). He blogs at www.potlatch.org.uk