At least since the financial crisis, capitalism is back on the agenda of public debates. Discussions of the causes of the recent success of right-wing populism have brought attention to the social divides between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Recent proposals to consider the expropriation of large housing companies have caused controversial debates about legitimate forms of market control. In the light of such developments, it seems desirable for contemporary political theory to reflect on the nature of capitalism and the relationship between capitalism and democracy. In their co-written book Capitalism, Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi observe that critical theory has lost sight of this important relationship over the last decades and argue for a recovery of the topic in social and political theory. The reading course focuses on this book and the four themes that it addresses: the nature of capitalism, historical developments of capitalism, critiques of capitalism, and contestations of capitalism. The overarching question that will guide the discussions in class is what place reflections on these themes should have in contemporary political theory.

As a ‘Studienleistung’, participants prepare a presentation. The ‘Prüfungsleistung’ is a term paper of approx. 4,500 words.


Fraser, Nancy/Jaeggi, Rahel (2018): Capitalism. A Conversation in Critical Theory. Cambridge/Medford: Polity.

Kurs im HIS-LSF