Sources: Networks of Capital

Online Sources

Balloon Maps

This NPR website includes several “balloon maps” designed to help visualize global inequalities. These maps are a great set of visual aids to help understand Wallerstein’s theory of the capitalist world-system.

Class Matters

This New York Times series on social class can help students get a more concrete understanding of how class continues to matter in the contemporary United States.

Mapping Globalization

This project led by Princeton sociologist Miguel Centeno uses a variety of data and historical maps to trace the contours of globalization. The related International Networks Archive also includes some fantastic images of global flows in capital, arms, drugs, tourism, and more.

PBS’s People Like Us website

If you decide to use PBS’s great documentary film People Like Us in your course, you can find a large amount of useful supplementary material at their companion website.

TED Talk: Hans Rosling’s New Insights on Poverty

In this talk, Swiss doctor and statistician Hans Rosling discusses the many dimensions of development and its potential for some of the most impoverished countries. What might Marx or Wallerstein say in response?

This American Life: “The Giant Pool of Money” and “The Invention of Money”

These two episodes of the radio program This American Life explore the origins of the housing crisis and a more fundamental question: what is money?

Real Utopias Project

This series of books, papers, lectures, and discussions from American Sociological Association president and Marxist scholar Erik Olin Wright examines his proposals for radical social change. Consider using it to inspire lively class discussion on the relevance of Marx today.

Film and Television Sources

Life and Debt

A powerful documentary film about how global financial institutions and current policies surrounding globalization affect developing, post-colonial countries like Jamaica. To learn more about the film, go to its website.

Manufactured Landscapes

This striking film follows photographer Edward Burtynsky as he visits the darker side of global production and manufacturing, including giant factories and e-waste dumps in China. The visuals in this film are nothing short of extraordinary. You can watch clips of the film here.

People Like Us

Pierre Bourdieu’s theorization of cultural capital reminds us that capital is not only about how much wealth we own, but also about the symbolic worth we attach to particular things, people, and places. PBS’s excellent documentary film, People Like Us, illustrates in humorous and poignant fashion the cultural side of social class.

Sociology Is a Martial Art

This documentary about French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu provides an intimate and thoughtful look into his life as a scholar and public intellectual. More information can be found here.

HBO’s The Wire, Season 1, Episode 4: “Old Cases”

Habitus is one of Pierre Bourdieu’s most influential—and difficult— concepts. In this scene from The Wire, police officers “Bunk” Moreland and Jimmy McNulty dissect a crime scene in a way that vividly illustrates a murder detective’s “feel for the game.” Note: Explicit Content.

HBO’s The Wire, Season 1, Episode 3: “The Buys”

In another example of habitus, drug addict and police informant Bubbles gives fashion advice to Sydnor, an undercover police officer. Bubbles shows how the embodiment of a drug addict is something that is acquired through experience and is not something that can be easily faked. Note: Explicit Content.

HBO’s The Wire, Season 4, Episode 9: “Know Your Place”

In one more example from The Wire, former police commander (and current field researcher) Bunny Colvin rewards three Baltimore middle school students with a fancy dinner. The scene paints a realistic picture of cultural capital at work. Check out this post at the Sociological Cinema for more on how to use this clip in class.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

This humorous clip discussing traditional and rational-legal forms of domination provides some levity to Weber’s writings on the subject.

Reading Sources

Cook, Ian et al. 2004. “Follow the Thing: Papaya.” Antipode 36(4): 642–664.

An excellent, accessible case study into how commodities can be de-fetishized. The authors trace a papaya from its origins on a Jamaican plantation to the fridge of a North London flat. Highly recommended.

Frank, Thomas and David Mulcahey. 1997. “Consolidated Deviance, Inc.” Pp. 72–78 in Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler, edited by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

In this clever and all-too-true piece of satire, Thomas Frank and David Mulcahey present the business strategy of the fictional company Consolidated Deviance, Inc., the “nation’s leader … in the fabrication, consultancy, licensing and merchandising of deviant subcultural practice.”

Giddens, Anthony. 2002. Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives. New York: Routledge.

A powerful take on globalization from one of the most prolific theorists of our time. 

Harvey, David. 2010. The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harvey, one of the most influential social theorists living today, brilliantly extends Marx’s insights on capitalism to the recent financial crisis. Also recommended: A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005, Oxford).

Johnson, Steven. 2006. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. New York: Riverhead Books.

Johnson’s book about a deadly cholera outbreak in 1850s London contains vivid prose about the living conditions of England’s working class (the first chapter, “The Night-Soil Men” is particularly good). A great way to illustrate to students the circumstances Marx was writing about in his critiques of capitalism. The story also illustrates the importance of social capital.

Meyer, John W. 2004. “The Nation as Babbitt: How Countries Conform.” Contexts 3(3): 42–47.

This short, accessible essay from the prolific Stanford sociologist of institutions provides a more Durkheimian take on globalization. Likely to stimulate some good discussion when paired with Wallerstein.

Seabrook, John. 1999, September 20. “Nobrow Culture.” The New Yorker. 104.

A cultural critic’s interesting take on cultural capital and the fate of “taste” in America’s consumerist society. A nice addition to the readings from Bourdieu. The full text is available at Seabrook’s website.

Wacquant, Loic. 2004. Body and Soul: Ethnographic Notebooks of an Apprentice-Boxer. New York: Oxford University Press.

This first-hand account of Wacquant’s foray into amateur boxing examines the construction of the “pugilist habitus” in a Chicago gym.

Wolff, Jonathan. 2002. Why Read Marx Today? New York: Oxford University Press.

A political theorist gives great answers to the question of Marx’s relevance for today’s world.

Zinn, Howard. 1999. Marx in Soho: A Play on History. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

A humorous play imagining what Marx would think if he lived in the Soho neighborhood of today’s New York City. Search for clips on YouTube of the play being performed for “live” footage of Marx in action.