Margaret Somers in Conversation with Daniel Hirschman
Keywords:Karl Polanyi, law and political economy, capitalism, comparative historical sociology, citizenship rights, moral economy
Margaret R. Somers is a leading comparative historical sociologist and social theorist specializing in law and political economy, citizenship and rights, and the work of Karl Polanyi. After pathbreaking work early in her career on the origins of modern citizenship rights as well as on the logic and practice of comparative historical sociology, historical epistemology, and narrative analysis she turned to problems of escalating social exclusion, statelessness, and the threat to citizenship rights in the context of intensifying neoliberalism. Author of multiple articles and books and winner of numerous prizes, Somers is Professor Emerita of Sociology and History at the University of Michigan. Strongly influenced by the writing of Karl Polanyi, she has been a key contributor to debates on English legal history; dedemocratization and the rise of neoliberal authoritarianism; the political economy of predistribution, moral worth and market justice, and the political power of knowledge cultures and ideas. She also writes about contemporary social policy for a broader public in The Guardian, the Washington Post, Open Democracy, and other venues.
In this interview with Daniel Hirschman, conducted between 2021–2022 in a multiplicity of synchronous and asynchronous formats befitting the pandemic moment, Somers discusses her intellectual and political trajectories and how they shaped her intersecting research programs, including her latest work on moral economy, predistribution, and the contemporary authoritarian moment.
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