This inaugural chapter on ‘Economic Criticism’ surveys books published (predominantly) in 2013 and 2014 that explore the relations between culture and economics. These relations have been growing preoccupations in critical and cultural theory over the past two decades, and especially since the global financial crisis of 2008. This chapter aims to provide an overview of the state of the field as it currently stands, and, in particular, to indicate how recent theoretical approaches have reassessed or moved beyond positions associated with the ‘New Economic Criticism’, which came to prominence in the 1990s. The chapter is divided into six sections: 1. Introduction; 2. Realism; 3. Discourse and Media; 4. Money; 5. Capital and Language; 6. Crisis.
This is the first appearance of a chapter on ‘Economic Criticism’ in The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that it takes the place of previous chapters on ‘Marxism and Cultural Materialism’. This change of title reflects not so much a replacement of one topic by another, however, as an expansion in scope. All of the works under discussion in this chapter are deeply engaged with Marxist theory (and some with the traditions of cultural materialism, too), but to align them only with that banner would be to misrepresent the diversity of approaches that they take to the relations between culture and economics. Those relations have attracted the attentions of growing numbers of critical and cultural theorists over the last two decades—all the more so in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008—and this and future chapters aim to chart this exciting and rapidly developing field. […]