Tag: capitalism

Article: The Political Economy of David Bowie

Will Davies’s article “The Political Economy of David Bowie” over at the Political Economy Research Centre.

Question: how many capitals can you name?

How many kinds of capital are there? How should we differentiate them? Why should we call them all capital? Do some kinds include or overlap with other kinds? Do they all share features in common, and/or do they exhibit family resemblance?

Consider the list below of kinds of capital. Which are more important, and which are less important? Which contribute the most to productivity, and which contribute the least, and under what circumstances would this priority change? Are there some kinds of capital that are missing from this list? Are some of these terms fake? Are some of these terms suggestive, but not generally used? Do some of them have different senses in different contexts? Should some of them be further subdivided? If some of them overlap with others, how would you assemble them as a Venn diagram, or a different kind of diagram, or several diagrams? If you had to pick one, which one would you be?

  • Tangible capital
  • Intangible capital
  • Built capital
  • Natural capital
  • Financial capital
  • Human capital
  • Social capital
  • Institutional capital
  • Reputational capital
  • Reputational collateral
  • Organizational capital
  • Instructional capital
  • Entrepreneurial capital
  • Intellectual capital
  • Agnatological capital
  • Public capital
  • Ecological capital
  • Climate capital
  • Green capital
  • Cultural capital
  • Cross-cultural capital
  • Diversity capital
  • Defense capital
  • Constant capital
  • Variable capital
  • Fictitious capital
  • Monopoly capital
  • Fixed capital
  • Circulating capital
  • Labor capital
  • Land capital
  • Resilience capital
  • Venture capital
  • Symbolic capital
  • Academic capital
  • Educational capital
  • Working capital
  • Liquid capital
  • Patient capital
  • Sexual capital
  • Racial capital
  • Identity capital
  • Political capital
  • Geographical capital
  • Game theoretic capital
  • Aid capital
  • Technological capital
  • Embodiment capital
  • Capital FM
  • Capital capital
  • Capital One
  • Network capital
  • Countercapital
  • Discursive capital
  • Individual capital
  • Historical capital
  • Hegemonic capital
  • Moral capital
  • Non-capital
  • Paris

When I read discussions of different forms of capital, particularly in the context of development economics, I often see the same pattern. First, let’s put financial capital aside, since it has so many complexities, and I’m not sure they’re relevant to what I’m talking about.

When we look at what’s left, we usually see: natural capital, built capital … and then one or more types of capital which, although they’re not usually named as such, I would describe as moral capital. By this I don’t mean that the countries which “possess” such capital really are filled with moral people. I mean that the way in which theorists imagine such capital is driven by their unacknowledged belief that if some countries are more productive than others, that’s because they probably deserve to be more productive.

For instance, the way in which most theorists imagine human capital, social capital, institutional capital, and instructional capital, puts emphasis on honesty, hard work, imagination, intelligence, courage, self-discipline, self-denial, individual autonomy, and rationality. No doubt there is some truth in this. But it intrigues me how closely this list resembles the reverse of a set of longstanding racist stereotypes, which have been thoroughly interrogated and critiqued at the interpersonal level, while perhaps still flourishing at the supra-individual, macroeconomic level. What if you were to flip it round, and say that the most productive countries are those holding the least of the following types of capital?

  • Deceit capital
  • Laziness capital
  • Hideboundedness capital
  • Stupidity capital
  • Cowardliness capital
  • Lack of discipline capital
  • Lusts and appetites capital
  • Need for the collective and/or strong authority capital
  • Brutishness capital