Term Paper: The Challenges of Scarcity in Contemporary Markets, States, & Societies
Due at Midnight on bcourses on Monday, APRIL 29
Political Economy has been defined as the study of the management of scarce resources. Of the
two questions at the root of political economy, David Ricardo’s question (“Who gets what?) came
to dominate the field in the 19th and 20th centuries at the expense of Thomas Malthus’s question
("How much is there?”) so long as the world appeared to have an inexhaustible supply of resources.
In 1930 John Maynard Keynes imagined a world one hundred years in the future where a more
prudently managed abundance would serve the interests of all humankind, where we would strive
to “make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible,” and where no-one
would have to work more than “three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week.”1 But as the world’s
population grows past 7.5 billion and climate change puts the carrying capacity of the planet under
increasing strain, Malthus’s question will probably be more relevant than ever in 2030.
Your task is to write an argumentative paper about the role of scarcity in a specific problem of
contemporary political economy—a problem at the intersection of markets, states, and societies
since 1990—using at least THREE theorists from our course to help you analyze it.
There are at least four different arenas in which you might look for scarcity:
THINGS & ACTIVITIES: Scarcity of resources, services, land, labor, or capital;
KNOWLEDGE: Scarcity of information or facts;
FEELINGS: Scarcity of trust or confidence;
RELATIONS: Scarcity of representation (in democratic states) or competition (in markets)
Writing of “The Crisis that Never Was” in Carbon Democracy, Timothy Mitchell reminds us that
perceived or imagined scarcity in our anxious and uncertain world (also fair game for your paper)
might in some instances be more significant than the real fact.
1. To write this paper, you will first need to formulate a question about a specific problem of
scarcity that interests you at the intersection of markets, states, and societies. Your answer to
this question will be your thesis. In order to formulate a good question you must first do some
research into this problem, drawing from AT LEAST TWO scholarly sources that are not on
our syllabus (books or scholarly articles written within the last fifteen years by different
authors). Newspaper articles do not count as these sources. These sources will help you find
out the most up-to-date and relevant information you will need to understand the background,
context, and details of your problem. The more specifically you can ground your research on
a particular event the closer you will be to having a workable thesis question.
John Maynard Keynes, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren (1930),” in Essays in Persuasion (New York:
Harcourt Brace, 1932), 358-373
2. Next you will need to apply the perspectives of THREE theorists from our course to help you
analyze your chosen problem. These theorists should be contemporary theorists, i.e. rising to
prominence after the Second World War. While you are welcome to draw upon the work of
Polanyi, Keynes, Hayek, and/or Milton Friedman in formulating your argument and your
analysis, your use of these figures must be in addition to the three main ones you will use to
inspire and guide your analysis. Look ahead to the titles of future weeks in trying to identify
the most relevant theorists for analyzing your chosen problem.
Though you are expected to do some research for this paper, remember that this is first and
foremost an argumentative paper. To do well on this paper you should have a strong, clear, and
provocative argument that puts your theorists in conversation with your problem as well as each
other. How do you know if your argument is interesting? A good start is to try to imagine a
plausible counterargument. If you can, then you are on the right track. If you cannot, your
argument is probably overly simplistic or uncontroversial (NOT a good thing for an argumentative
Format: Your paper should be between 2000 and 2500 words. In order to help with grading,
please include the total word count. In addition, be sure to include your full name and section
number on each page as well. Using Chicago Manual Style, you should include both footnotes
& a bibliography in which you list all the works you have consulted in writing your paper (this
should include all three theorists you intend to you as well as the outside scholarly readings).
Interim Due Dates: Your GSI will decide how to implement these, but everyone should seek
approval on your proposed topic from your GSI before you get too deep into investigating it.
1. Term Paper Question & Bibliography Due: February 28th
2. Argument & Thesis Paragraph Due: April 4th
Please consider making an appointment with the SLC (Student Learning Center) for help
when you enter the drafting phase of writing your paper: https://berkeley.mywconline.com/
Here are some common pitfalls of student papers. Try to anticipate & avoid these!
“Your problem is too broad. You need a more focused topic.”
“Your analysis is superficial, it lacks depth/substance.”
“You do not have a clear thesis.” or “Your thesis is weak.”
“Your evidence does not relate to your thesis.”
“You have represented a theorist’s ideas incorrectly.”
Academic Honesty: Plagiarism
I wish I did not need to write this final paragraph, but every semester we catch students
trying to pass off work by other people as their own. If you use another author’s ideas,
please cite properly. Plagiarized assignments will receive an automatic F, result in a formal
incident report to the Center for Student Conduct, and may, depending on the severity of
the infraction, result in a failing grade for the entire course. More information on what
constitutes plagiarism is available from the UC Berkeley Campus Code of Student
Conduct: http://sa.berkeley.edu/student-code-of-conduct. If you have any doubts about
whether you are in danger of plagiarizing something, please check with your GSI or me
before you turn in your final draft. Whatever you do, don’t plagiarize!
Contemporary Theories of Political Economy
Spring 2019 Syllabus
Lectures: TuTh 11 – 12:30 pm
2060 Valley Life Sciences
Office Hours: Tu 6–7 pm & W by appt.
GSIs and Sections:
3 – 4 pm
10 – 11 am
10 – 11 am
1 – 2 pm
B5 Hearst Field Annex
B1 Hearst Field Annex
This course introduces students to some of the major questions of political economy,
development, and globalization from Postwar Keynesian Consensus through the rise of
Neoliberalism to the Global Recession of 2008. What role should government play in the
market? Do firms have a social responsibility? What policies and institutions stimulate
economic development, and how is economic development related to politics? How much power
should be vested in international institutions as opposed to the nation-state? When do
international trade and investment create relationships of dependency and exploitation? What is
the relationship between environmental and labor rights and the desire for economic growth?
Over the course of the semester we will learn how intellectuals from a variety of disciplines have
approached these questions since 1944, paying particular attention to the relationship between
theorists and their historical context. In the first half of the course we will examine the
relationship between markets, states, and societies in liberal discourse and its critics. In the
second half of the course we will explore trends, conflicts, and crises in international
development and globalization.
PE 101 has the following pedagogical goals:
Through this course, students will:
Understand the key theories of contemporary political economy.
Learn the history and political contexts in which these contemporary theories emerged.
Identify links between political economy, international development, and globalization.
Recognize how theories of political economy inform current issues in the world today.
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Friedman, Milton. Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. Chicago: University
of Chicago, 2002.
Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Mitchell, Timothy. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London: Verso, 2011.
Polayni, Karl. The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time.
Boston: Beacon Press, 2001
Rodrik, Dani. The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.
New York: Norton& Company, 2011
Course Reader (2 Volumes) – You can purchase the readers at University Copy, 2425 Channing
Way (marked with a * on the syllabus).
For texts (and films) to be found online internet addresses are provided.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND POLICIES
Lecture Attendance and Readings: Students are expected to attend lectures regularly and to
complete biweekly reading assignments. The lectures will introduce the readings and place them
in wider historical context. Doing well on the examinations and term paper assignment will
require attending lectures and keeping up with weekly readings.
Discussion Sections: Students are required to attend and participate in weekly discussion
sections led by the GSIs. Attendance and participation in discussion sections will have a direct
impact upon final grades. Absences beyond 2 will result in the subtraction of 1 percentage point
per absence from the students course grade.
Term Paper: Each student is expected to write an eight- to ten-page paper over the course of the
semester. A specific assignment description will be provided. On the date that the paper is due, it
must be submitted in the form and by the time indicated by your GSI.
Exams: There will be two exams: a midterm and a final. The exams will have short-answer as
well as essay-style questions. These questions will require knowledge of the course material and
the capacity to analyze various theories and perspectives. Please check the dates of the
examinations, particularly the final examination. All students are expected to take the exams
on these dates and exceptions will not be granted.
Section Participation & Citizenship
In Class, Tuesday March 12th
bCourses, Monday before midnight April 29th
Thursday, May 16th, 8 – 11 am
This class uses a relatively standard grading schema. All assignments, and final grades, will be
computed using the following grading scheme:
A+ ≥ 98%
98 > A ≥ 93
93 > A- ≥ 90
90 > B+ ≥ 87
87 > B ≥ 83
83 > B- ≥ 80
80 > C+ ≥ 77
77 > C ≥ 73
73 > C- ≥ 70
(and so on)
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Grade Disputes: Students who wish to dispute grades on an assignment must do so in writing.
Grade disputes must be submitted no sooner than 24 hours after receiving your grade, but within
one week. Any dispute should outline very specifically why you think that there is an error and it
should not contain information about what grades you usually get or how long you spent on the
assignment. Please note that grades may be lowered after review.
Email: Do not expect me to respond to last minute emails before assignments are due or before
exams! Substantive questions should be saved for section or office hours. Please note that this is
a very large class – do not expect long or detailed email responses.
Academic Honesty: This is a course designed to provoke critical thinking. While I encourage
study groups and working together to understand course material, all written work should be
your own. Please do not use other students’ work for your assignments. If you cite an author or
use his/her ideas, please cite properly. Plagiarized assignments will receive an F. More
information on what constitutes as plagiarism is available from the UC Berkeley Campus Code
of Student Conduct: http://sa.berkeley.edu/student-code-of-conduct. If you have any further
questions, please ask.
Electronic Technology Policy: Computers (laptops, phones, tablets etc.) are not allowed in
lecture. Please turn these off and put them away. The temptation to surf the web is too great.
This is distracting to everyone sitting around you and it is blatantly disrespectful to me. If you
would rather surf the web, please stay home. Students who fail to comply with this simple
request will be asked to leave. Research shows that students who take notes by hand have a
better understanding of what they write down. It also helps them to become more active (and
Special Needs / Accommodations for Disabled Students: In order to receive DSP
accommodations you need to have a letter sent to me and notify your GSI as early as possible, no
later than two weeks before the midterm. I am committed to creating a learning environment
welcoming of all students. If an unexpected personal or medical challenge is interfering with
your ability to complete assignments and/or attend class it is your responsibility to contact me as
early as possible.
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MARKETS, STATES, & SOCIETIES
LIBERAL CAPITALISM & THE FOUNDATIONS OF MARKET SOCIETIES
Introduction: The End of History? Liberal Capitalism & the Great Recession
Dani Rodrik (2011) The Globalization Paradox, Chapter 1
Wendy Brown (2017) interview about her book, Undoing the Demos:
Birth of Laissez-Faire: From Classical Liberalism to Neoclassical Economics
Dani Rodrik (2011) The Globalization Paradox, Chapter 2
Karl Polanyi (1944) The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic
Origins of Our Time, Chapter 1
Adam Smith (1976) 1.1., 1.2, 1.3 in The Wealth of Nations:
David Ricardo (1817) Chapter 7 in Principles of Political Economy and Taxation:
Question: Why do Smith and Ricardo believe the market is self-regulating? What
role does this belief play in Polanyi’s “nineteenth century civilization”?
End of Laissez-Faire: Market Failure & Keynesian Planning
Karl Polanyi (1944) The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic
Origins of Our Time, Chapter 2
*John Maynard Keynes (Quotes)
*John Maynard Keynes (1926) “The End of Laissez Faire”
*Paul Krugman (2007) “Introduction to General Theory” in John Maynard
Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.
*John Maynard Keynes (1935) The General Theory of Employment, Interest and
Money, Chapter 12: "The State of Long-term Expectation"
Question: What was the Great Depression and how did it lead to the
abandonment of the Gold Standard and the rise of Keynesianism?
The Liberal State & the “State of Exception”
*Friedrich Hayek (1944) The Road to Serfdom, Chapters 1-3, 7, 14.
*F.A. Hayek, "The Use of Knowledge in Society," The American Economic
Review, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Sep. 1945), pp. 519–530.
*Carl Schmitt, “Definition of Sovereignty” in Political Theology (including
George Schwab’s Introduction)
Question: According to Hayek, what are the advantages of a liberal state?
According to Schmitt, what are its limitations?
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Neoliberalism: Rational Man, Monetarism, and the Free Market
Dani Rodrik (2011) The Globalization Paradox, Chapter 3
Milton Friedman (1962) Capitalism and Freedom, Chapters 1–3, 5-6, 11.
Question: Does Friedman believe that political freedom leads to economic
freedom, or vice versa? Why?
The World Economy in the 20th Century: Between Markets & Planning
In Class Film (2002) Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy,
Episode 1 “Battle of Ideas": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoWbm8zUG6Y;
George Monibot, “Don't let the rich get even richer on the assets we all share,”
The Guardian, 27. Sept. 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/27/rich-assetsresources-prosperity-commons-george-monbiot
Question: How is the “Battle of Ideas” of the twentieth century a battle between
politics and economics? What is left out of this version of the “Battle"?
PROBLEMS WITH LIBERAL CAPITALISM
Embedded Liberalism: the Self-Protection of Society & Keynesian Consensus
Dani Rodrik (2011) The Globalization Paradox, Chapter 4
Karl Polanyi (1944) The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic
Origins of Our Time, Chapters 4, 6, 11, and 12.
Elinor Ostrom: 8 Rules for Managing a Commons & Book Review:
Question: How is the market "embedded” according to Polanyi? And how does
this help explain the Keynesian Consensus?
Liberal Critiques: Markets & Industry in the Affluent Society
*John K. Galbraith (1967) The New Industrial State, Chapter 19.
*John K. Galbraith (1958) The Affluent Society, Chapters 9-11, 17.
Question: How has industry changed the market system in the 20th century?
The Market & the Business Cycle: Disorder, Chaos & Crisis
*Charles Kindleberger and Robert Aliber (1978, 2011) Manias, Panics, and
Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, Chapters 1-2.
*Hernando de Soto (2000) The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in
the West and Fails Everywhere Else, Chapter 1 & Rebuttal
*Regine Spector (2017) Order at the Bazaar: Power and Trade in Central Asia,
Chapter 1 & Conclusion
Question: Are the problems of capitalism problems with markets?
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Homo Economicus: How Rational is Rational Man?
*Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2009) Nudge: Improving Decisions about
Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Introduction, Chapter 4.
*Gary Becker, "Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior,"
The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 101, No. 3 (Jun., 1993), pp. 385–409.
*Wendy Brown (2015) Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution,
Chapters 1 & 3.
Question: Are the problems of capitalism problems with the human individual?
The Modern Corporation
In Class Film (selections): The Corporation
Milton Friedman (1962) Capitalism and Freedom, Chapter 8
*Peter Drucker (1974, 2001) “The Purpose and Objectives of Business” in The
*Alfred Chandler Jr. (1977) The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in
American Business, Introduction and Conclusion.
Question: Are the problems of capitalism problems with the modern corporation?
Creative Destruction: Entrepreneurs and the State
*Joseph Schumpeter (1942) Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Chapters 5-7.
*Mariana Mazzucato (2014) The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs.
Private Sector Myths, Introduction, Chapters 1, 9-10.
Question: Can the state be an entrepreneur according to Schumpeter and/or
Mazzucato? Why or why not?
Turn in Term Paper Question & Bibliography to your GSI
Capital Accumulation: From Markets to Monopolies
*Immanuel Wallerstein (1991) “Braudel on Capitalism, or Everything Upside
Down,” pp. 354–361
*Paul Sweezy (1972, 2009) “Modern Capitalism” and “On the Theory of
Monopoly Capitalism” in Modern Capitalism and Other Essays.
*Karl Marx (1847) Wage, Labour and Capital (edited version in the Marx-Engels
Question: Is capitalism ultimately a sys ...
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