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Capitalism, crisis and ideology

Capitalism is the social form that defines our modern world. It is, however, a form of society that, through its own development, appears to be in a state of crisis that could lead to its final collapse.

The evidence of this crisis is manifold: environmental disasters, global warming, mass unemployment, the collapse of economies on the periphery of the world market, religious fundamentalism, and increasingly large, and ever more frequent, financial crises.

Despite the many critical responses to such social problems, there is still a great deal of resistance to seeing these issues as part of general crisis of capitalism, due to in large part to ideological and psychological attachment to the basic forms of capitalist socialisation: work, value, the commodity, money and the subject form. In this context it is more important than ever to challenge these social forms through the critical exploration of the nature of capitalism – its history, its cultural products, its crisis and its critique – across disciplines and fields of research.

In the School we hold regular seminars and reading groups, host national and international visiting speakers and organise conferences, often collaborating with other academic Schools in the University. We research on all of the topics above, with special interests in the history of theories of work, capitalism and identity, industrial relations, and critical economic, political and social theory.


  • Interrogate the bases on which capitalism should be understood and critiqued, engaging with both the history of and latest developments in critical theory.
  • Develop a categorical critique of capitalism that problematises its basic social forms, such as work, value, the state, money nation, etc.
  • Engage the critique of political economy.
  • Consider the meaning of “collapse of modernisation” in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
  • Define the shape and ontology of the crisis.
  • Investigate the history of and developments in social movements, such as the labour, feminist and civil rights movements.
  • Consider social models and industrial relations.
  • Invite reflection on effective ways forward for social movements engaged in a project of social emancipation.

Theme leaders

Professor Fabio Vighi

Professor Fabio Vighi

Professor of Italian and Critical Theory

+44 (0)29 2087 5605
Heiko Feldner

Heiko Feldner

Reader in German Studies and Critical Theory

+44 (0)29 2087 5598