Envisioning Real Utopias

Economy & Society Research Committee (RC02) Panel at the

International Sociological Association Meetings

Göteborg, Sweden July, 2010



This web page is designed to facilitate discussion at the ISA panel on Envisioning Real Utopias. Panelists who will be giving presentations in the session as well as audience members who have written on themes connected to the panel are invited to send me pdf documents and url-links, which I will then post on the site. Documents should be emailed to Erik Olin Wright at: wright@ssc.wisc.edu.





The Agenda of Envisioning Real Utopias


We live in an era of diminished expectations and, perhaps, diminished imagination. To most intellectuals the idea that the social world could be fundamentally changed in ways that would dramatically reduce the enormous inequalities in the world today and create the conditions in which all people could live flourishing lives seems naďve, perhaps even ridiculous. Capitalism reigns triumphant and at least in the developed capitalist world talk of socialism as an alternative has almost disappeared. I believe this radical pessimism and cynicism is itself a constraint on possibilities for creating a more just and humane world. Gramsci once described the struggle for social justice as requiring “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” I believe in the world today we need an optimism of the intellect as well: an optimism grounded in our understanding of the real potentials for emancipatory alternatives which can inform our practical strategies for social transformation.

This panel will explore a range of such possibilities. The goal is to think about the radical redesign of social institutions in ways that are both  committed to emancipatory ideals and are also attentive to the real dilemmas and constraints of viable institutions.



Erik Olin Wright, panel organizer and facilitator

Book Manuscript, Envisioning Real Utopias (London and New York: Verso, 2010): http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ERU.htm

Article elaborating the idea of real utopias:   "Compass Points: towards a socialist alternative," New Left Review 41, September-October, 2006

Discussions of real utopias: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ERU-discussions-2007.htm



    Archon Fung, Empowered participatory governance

    Ramon Flecha, University of Barcelona, "The Mondragon Corporative Corporation: a real non-capitalist and non-statist economy". Abstract

    Daniel Bertaux, European Systems of Compulsory Solidarity as an Alternative to Market Systems Abstract