Käte Hamburger Lecture

World Financial Crisis and Civil Society: Implications for Global Democracy

5th June 2013

Finance lies at the heart of contemporary capitalism, and financial crises are one of the most disruptive and harmful developments in society today. Current operations of financial markets also raise profound questions about social inequality, ecological integrity, and declining democracy. But - compared to the major citizen activism that has developed on environmental problems, human rights, and poverty - civil society engagement of financial markets and their regulation has mostly been small, short and without impact. This puzzle was addressed by Prof. Jan Aart Scholte, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick, at the fourth Käte Hamburger Lecture.

Prof. Scholte looked for answers partly in the features of the actors involved: namely, the capacities and practices of civil society groups themselves, as well as relevant governance agencies and financial firms. In addition, Scholte argued that deeper structural circumstances are important in constraining civil society impacts to reform and transform contemporary financial markets. These underlying structural forces include embedded social hierarchies (among countries, classes, etc.), the pivotal role of finance capital in accumulation processes today, and the entrenchment of prevailing neoliberal policy discourses. Civil society action to counter these circumstances in financial markets could make major contributions to a reinvigoration of democracy both within countries and on a global scale.

Intellectual activist Peter Wahl, who is founding member of Attac and expert on the regulation of financial markets, gave critical remarks and practical insights by his comment on the lecture of Prof. Scholte.

Prof. Jan Aart Scholte was until recently Senior Fellow at the Centre and is Professor for Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick.

Peter Wahl is Chair of the Executive Committee of World Economy, Ecology and Development (WEED), Berlin.

The lecture and lively discussion with an engaged audience was moderated by Cornelia Ulbert, Executive Director of the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF).

Date: 5th June 2013, 18.15h - 20.00h
Venue: Grand City Hotel Duisburger Hof, Neckarstraße 2, 47051 Duisburg

Invitation Flyer