Research Seminar June 4th: Monika Wulz - Towards a Political Economy of Knowledge: Ernest Solvay's Energetic Sociology

Research Seminar June 4th: Monika Wulz - Towards a Political Economy of Knowledge: Ernest Solvay's Energetic Sociology. The seminar will take place in Gilman 449 at 18:00.

30 May 2018

In 1894, Ernest Solvay founded the Institut des Sciences sociales (in 1901 succeeded by the Institut de Sociologie) in Brussels. Based on empirical sociological research this institute aimed at developing measures against social inequality – for example a progressive inheritance tax with the purpose of providing equal educational opportunities. Arguing on the grounds of a scientifically understood social energetics, the sociological research at Solvay’s institute had a double economic prespective: On the one hand, it relied on an economic understanding of mental processes that was at the same time advocated by philosophers and scientists such as Wilhelm Ostwald and Ernst Mach; on the other hand, it aimed at devising an economic solution for the unequal socio-economic conditions of knowledge production at the end of the 19th century. As a chapter in the history of sociology, Solvay’s activities in the social sciences are not only remarkable since they involve one of the earliest political attempts of legally implementing inheritance tax; they also provide a peculiar case to study the intertwined scientific, epistemic, economic, and political agendas at the dawn of the discipline of sociology. 

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