Although discussions on the negative effects and consequences of capitalism have recently spread, ideas about how to concretely promote a more just and democratic socio-economic system have remained deficient or lack public support. Today it seems that there is no alternative political-economic model that represents an effective challenge to capitalism.
The aim of this course is to critically survey the progressive theories and emancipatory experiments proposed in the time period between the French Revolution (1789) and Russian Revolution (1917), in order to understand how they sought to construct social, economic and political alternatives to the capitalist system. Using the lens of political sociology, we will examine some of the most relevant political changes of the “long 19th Century” in their social and historical contexts. The Industrial Revolution, the birth of labour movement, the rise of class politics and the spread of democracy will be among the main themes addressed by this course.
The readings for this course were selected in order to enhance students’ understanding of concepts central to political sociology such as the nature of political power and theories of social change. The main analytical focus of the course will concentrate on evaluating the adequacy of capitalism to address the challenges and opportunities of European societies in the 19th Century and identifying the main characteristics of the alternatives to capitalism proposed within the Socialist tradition. Finally, we will also assess the relevance of the alternatives proposed in the past for the fundamental and enduring social problems of our society today.