The return of social government: From ‘socialist calculation’ to ‘social analytics’

European Journal of Social Theory 18 (4):431-450 (2015)
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In recent years, there has been a panoply of new forms of ‘social’ government, as manifest in ‘social enterprise’ and ‘social media’. This follows an era of neoliberalism in which social logics were apparently being eliminated, through the expansion of economic rationalities. To understand this, the article explores the critique of the very notion of the ‘social’, as manifest in neoliberal contributions to the socialist calculation debate from the 1920s onwards. Understood as a zone lying between market and state, the social was accused by Mises and Hayek of being both unaccountable (lacking any units of measurement) and formless (lacking instruments of explication). The article then asks to what extent these critiques still retain their purchase, following recent developments in hedonic measurement and data analytics. The argument is made that new post-neoliberal forms of ‘social government’ may now be entirely plausible, though focusing on the corporation rather than the state.



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