Institutions

Organizers

Stephen Engelmann, Political Science
Cedric Johnson, African American Studies and Political Science
Laurie Jo Reynolds, Art
Blake Stimson, Art History

This group explores the status of institutions in different areas of contemporary public life, in the face of forces of privatization as well as political and artistic trends that have disfavored conventional modes of power and practice.

Discussion of Elizabeth Anderson’s book Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It)

September 26, 2019 at 4 PM

Reading for Discussion: The Anderson chapters plus her response to the critics, with emphasis on the initial two chapters. Title can be accessed via the UIC library as an e-book with the url link or by searching the title in library catalog (access via catalog may take up to 24hrs.). Full URL:

http://proxy.cc.uic.edu/login?url=https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/j.ctvc775n0

About the book:

Why our workplaces are authoritarian private governments—and why we can’t see it

One in four American workers says their workplace is a “dictatorship.” Yet that number probably would be even higher if we recognized most employers for what they are—private governments with sweeping authoritarian power over our lives, on duty and off. We normally think of government as something only the state does, yet many of us are governed far more—and far more obtrusively—by the private government of the workplace. In this provocative and compelling book, Elizabeth Anderson argues that the failure to see this stems from long-standing confusions. These confusions explain why, despite all evidence to the contrary, we still talk as if free markets make workers free—and why so many employers advocate less government even while they act as dictators in their businesses.

 

In many workplaces, employers minutely regulate workers’ speech, clothing, and manners, leaving them with little privacy and few other rights. And employers often extend their authority to workers’ off-duty lives. Workers can be fired for their political speech, recreational activities, diet, and almost anything else employers care to govern. Yet we continue to talk as if early advocates of market society—from John Locke and Adam Smith to Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln—were right when they argued that it would free workers from oppressive authorities. That dream was shattered by the Industrial Revolution, but the myth endures.

 

Private Government offers a better way to talk about the workplace, opening up space for discovering how workers can enjoy real freedom.

 

Based on the prestigious Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values, Private Government is edited and introduced by Stephen Macedo and includes commentary by cultural critic David Bromwich, economist Tyler Cowen, historian Ann Hughes, and philosopher Niko Kolodny.

 

Elizabeth Anderson is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Imperative of Integration (Princeton) and Value in Ethics and Economics. She lives in Ann Arbor.

Contact:

Blake Stimson (312) 996-7000 stimson@uic.edu

Jane F. McAlevey Workshop

Jane F. McAlevey Organizer, Author, and Scholar

Thursday, 4/18 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Hull-House, 750 South HalstedTitle: Training for Organizers
Organized by the Institutions Working Group, and UIC United Faculty, Local 6456Jane McAlevey is an organizer, author, and scholar. Her first book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), published by Verso Press, was named the “most valuable book of 2012” by The Nation Magazine. Her second book, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, published by Oxford University Press, was released late in 2016. She is a regular commentator on radio and TV. She continues to work as an organizer on union campaigns, lead contract negotiations, and train and develop organizers.

Upon completing her two-year Post Doc at the Harvard Law School, she returned to consulting work with unions in and outside the USA. She is currently at work on two books. Slated for release in fall 2019 from Ecco/HarperCollins, the next book argues that despite, if not because of, the withering attacks on working people from the US Supreme Court, conservative state and local governments, and the corporate class, American democracy depends on rebuilding unions. STRIKING BACK, due for release in 2020 from Verso, explores organizing, power, and strategy.

Organized by the UIC Institutions Working Group
Stephen Engelmann, Political Science
Cedric Johnson, African American Studies and Political Science
Laurie Jo Reynolds, Art
Blake Stimson, Art History

Jane F. McAlevey Lecture

Jane F. McAlevey Organizer, Author, and Scholar

Wednesday, 4/17 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Lecture: “Power, Participation, & Democracy”
Location: Institute for the HumanitiesJane McAlevey is an organizer, author, and scholar. Her first book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), published by Verso Press, was named the “most valuable book of 2012” by The Nation Magazine. Her second book, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, published by Oxford University Press, was released late in 2016. She is a regular commentator on radio and TV. She continues to work as an organizer on union campaigns, lead contract negotiations, and train and develop organizers.Upon completing her two-year Post Doc at the Harvard Law School, she returned to consulting work with unions in and outside the USA. She is currently at work on two books. Slated for release in fall 2019 from Ecco/HarperCollins, the next book argues that despite, if not because of, the withering attacks on working people from the US Supreme Court, conservative state and local governments, and the corporate class, American democracy depends on rebuilding unions. STRIKING BACK, due for release in 2020 from Verso, explores organizing, power, and strategy.

Organized by the UIC Institutions Working Group
Stephen Engelmann, Political Science
Cedric Johnson, African American Studies and Political Science
Laurie Jo Reynolds, Art
Blake Stimson, Art History

Book Discussion: Anand Giridharadas

December 5, 2018 from 3:30-5:00 PM

The Institutions Working Group will convene a discussion of Anand Giridharadas’s Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. All are welcome.  Although the whole lengthy excerpt is recommended discussion will focus especially on the Prologue, Chapter 2 (“Win-Win) and Chapter 5 (“The Critic and the Thought Leader”).

Reading available upon request to huminst@uic.edu.

About the Book:

An insider’s groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite’s efforts to “change the world” preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve.

About the book: “An insider’s groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite’s efforts to ‘change the world’” preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve….

Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.”
—Penguin Random House, 2018