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Bataille and the Sociology of Abundance: Reassessing Gifts, Debt and Economic Excess

McGoey, Linsey (2017) 'Bataille and the Sociology of Abundance: Reassessing Gifts, Debt and Economic Excess.' Theory, Culture and Society. ISSN 0263-2764

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Over the past 70 years, the sociological and economic study of economic abundance has been side-lined in comparison to the study of economic scarcity. This article calls for a revitalization of the study of abundance through a focus on the writing of Georges Bataille. I point out a number of parallels between Bataille and the work of two economists who are rarely associated with Bataille: John Maynard Keynes and Yanis Varoufakis. My argument is two-fold. Firstly, I argue that Bataille, Keynes and Varoufakis make remarkably similar and under-examined points about the need for sovereign nations to deliberately restrict their own trade surpluses. Secondly, drawing on the anthropologist Marcel Mauss’s writing on sovereign debt forgiveness, I raise new insights about the compatibility of Keynes, Bataille and Mauss’s work. In conclusion, I argue that rejuvenating the study of economic abundance will help to better theorize the limits of mainstream economic thought and the political structures it supports.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bataille, Keynes, Mauss, sovereign debt, surplus recycling mechanisms
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2018 11:53
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 12:15

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