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Speculative Communities

Living with Uncertainty in a Financialized World

Speculative Communities investigates the financial world’s influence on the social imagination, unraveling its radical effects on our personal and political lives.

In Speculative Communities, Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou examines the ways that speculation has moved beyond financial markets to shape fundamental aspects of our social and political lives. As ordinary people make exceptional decisions, such as the American election of a populist demagogue or the British vote to leave the European Union, they are moving from time-honored and -tested practices of governance, toward the speculative promise of a new, more uncertain future. This book shows how even our methods of building community have shifted to the speculative realm as social media platforms enable and amplify our volatile wagers.

For Komporozos-Athanasiou, “to speculate” means increasingly “to connect,” to endorse the unknown pre-emptively, and often daringly, as a means of social survival. Grappling with the question of how more uncertainty can lead to its full-throated embrace rather than dissent, Speculative Communities shows how finance has become the model for society writ large. As Komporozos-Athanasiou argues, virtual marketplaces, new social media, and dating apps bring finance’s opaque infrastructures into the most intimate realms of our lives, leading to a new type of speculative imagination across economy, culture, and society.

Reviews

"Speculative Communities is a masterful critique of the financialisation of everyday life, which provides an innovative account of the role of speculation and uncertainty in shaping the way we understand, and act within, the world. Komporozos-Athanasiou masterfully blends economic theory with political and sociological analysis to deliver a fascinating reading of how finance has colonised our imaginations, and the challenges this process poses to movements seeking to construct a collective sense of what life beyond capitalism might look like. Speculative Communities is both a novel and exciting academic contribution, and a critical reference point for those seeking to organise in a world defined by the logic of speculation."

Grace Blakeley, author of Stolen: How to Save the World From Financialisation

"In this bold intervention, Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou shows us how financialized capitalism disseminates uncertainty while at the same time creating new possibilities of connection. The result is a compelling theory of the alliance between existential insecurity and paranoid certitude in contemporary nationalist populism. An important and timely book."

Melinda Cooper, author of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism

"This highly original study shifts the idea of speculation away from seeing the flaws of capitalism to providing the basis of a critique of it. It also lays the foundations of a subversive vision which connects speculation, politics and progressive futurity in the struggle for financial justice and social solidarity."

Arjun Appadurai, author of Banking on Words

“This is an exciting, intelligent, inviting book. The argument offers a new way of understanding the scope, infiltration, and diffuse power of financialization and its promised, speculative futures.”

Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, University of California, San Diego

"A brilliant book, engaging with some of the most important current questions of social and political development, coherently argued, and beautifully written.”

Jens Beckert, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Table of Contents

Key Terms
Introduction

Part 1: Speculation: Finance and Capitalism
1. The Rise of Speculative Communities
2. A Genealogy of Speculative Imagination: Old Spirits of Capitalism

Part 2: Spectacle: Finance and Society
3. Speculative Technologies and the New Homo speculans
4. Speculative Intimacies

Part 3: Specter: Finance and Polity
5. Financialized Populism and New Nationalisms
6. Counter-speculations

Conclusions
Acknowledgments
Notes
References
Index

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