The Hamburg Institute for Social Research is offering up to three scholarships for doctoral projects that seek to analyze empirical phenomena of monetary (dis-)orders with the aim of further developing debates on monetary theory. Proposals should focus on studying empirical phenomena that have not yet been considered by research or be dedicated to re-visiting previously explored issues and empirical evidence with new theoretical equipment. Of course, the ideas themselves can also become the subject of observation, provided that this is done with reference to monetary realities.
This call for proposals responds to developments in economic sociology, the history of capitalist cultures, political economy, and the anthropology of economic practices, in which modern economic forms are increasingly reflected upon as monetarized economies. All in all, these reflections are based on conceptual considerations on the question of what money actually is. For too long, perspectives on economic sociology, economic history, and political economics in particular have been marked by a neglect of theoretical considerations regarding money. Modern economies were commonly examined as market exchange economies, a theoretical framework that presupposes money as a functional condition, but is not specifically focused on modern economies as monetarized economies. Although empirically ubiquitous, in the research on processes of marketization and practices of market exchange, money itself has occupied a theoretically subordinate position. By placing empirical observations of money and its theoretical reflection at the center of capitalism research, however, it becomes possible to further develop alternatives to increasingly questionable, well-established conceptualizations of modern economies.
The scholarships will be awarded for innovative project ideas that deal with empirical cases to critically engage in these theoretical debates and seek to articulate independent positions. Proposals do not necessarily have to be premised on a preliminary decision as to whether money is to be addressed as a medium of exchange, as an “absolute” social means (of exchange), as credit—that is, a creditor-debtor relationship—, as a diverse collection of culturally shaped monetary practices, or in another, very different way. What is important is that the proposed research projects seek to make theoretical decisions on the basis of careful deliberation and scrupulous assessments that constitute significant and competitive contributions in the context of current debates. Under no circumstances should the following list of possible topics therefore be considered complete:
- How and why do alternative means of payment (such as local or crypto currencies) arise and how do multiple currencies and monetary orders coexist, what interactions or interferences arise between them, and what social effects do these contacts have?
- What role do monetary orders play in macroscopic developments of global inequalities?
- Are changes or structural continuities of monetary orders related to other socio-economic transformation processes such as digitalization?
- How has the functional, economic, or social significance of cash changed; how can we assess the current debate on the opportunities and risks of abolishing cash from a sociological and political-economic perspective? What is the relevance of cash as a field of business and as a growing global market for research on and theories of money?
- What significance do monetary hierarchies between currencies and between forms of money have for global power relations; how do these relations change as a result of transformations in the global economy and the economic rise of states and regions?
- What significance do monetary hierarchies and the shift of the privilege of money creation to private banks have for the economic dynamics and stability of financialized capitalism?
- What role do nation-states play for the creation and maintenance of monetary orders—in theory and in practice? How “monetarily sovereign” are modern states, that is, do they have the capacity to finance every expenditure, independent of their revenue?
- To what extent can reflection on the nature of money contribute to our understanding of the construction, development, and crisis of Europe’s supranational currency?
- Do financial and economic crises have dimensions relevant to a theory of money?
- What role does the value or purchasing power of money play for different theories, and what explanatory approaches do we have and need in order to record changes in monetary values and relations? Is there a need for a new, non-economic theory of inflation and if so, what would it be like?
- Do we need a theory-sensitive analysis of the history of ideas of money and monetary orders, because the existing ones are shaped by certain theories of money that may be questionable from today’s perspective?
- Which social conflicts that are linked to the design of monetary orders can be identified from a contemporary and historical perspective? To what extent is making such distinctions useful for furthering the analysis of economic change; that is, how sensitive must the history of capitalism be with regard to the significance of money?
The Hamburg Institute for Social Research has a tradition of focusing on the phenomenon of violence. Research projects that can bridge the gap between theoretical debates on violence and analyses of monetary (dis)orders are thus especially welcome.
The scholarships carry a monthly stipend of 1400 Euro. This is a base amount. Scholarship recipients will receive supplements for one or more children and may be eligible for further supplements. Detailed information can be found here. The scholarships will be awarded for two years with an option for an extension of up to two further years.
Scholarship-financed research projects at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research come with an additional budget for travel, books, and other research-related expenses that are appropriate to the requirements of the respective project. A workplace will be provided, and regular presence at the Institute is expected for the duration of the scholarship.
Applicants must have an above-average degree in sociology, history, cultural studies, political science, economics, or a related discipline.
Applications with cover letter, curriculum vitae, an academic work sample (master thesis, term paper), certificates and transcripts showing grades for all courses completed, and an outline of the proposed doctoral project or a collection of sketches of ideas (five pages maximum) must be submitted in a single PDF document by e-mail to monetary-orders(at)his-online.de. The closing date for applications is 18 November 2018. The earliest date for funding is 1 March 2019.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this call, please do not hesitate to contact us at the e-mail address provided.