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Korean Confederation of Trade Union Vice-President Ju Bong-hee takes part in a protest against the ongoing meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (FGMD) as he is blocked by anti-riot police in Manila, Philippines, October 27, 2008. The number of undocumented migrant workers across the world is expected to rise in the face of the global financial crisis, trade unions and business leaders warned on Monday, urging governments to respect labor rights.  

REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco


Is globalisation over?


Vorremmo anche noi dei vice-presidenti CGIL come  Ju Bong-hee.

Le scienze sociali attraversano storicamente 3 paradigmi dominanti, che a loro volta si differenziano e sfasano nelle singole discipline (vedi elenco sotto), dagli studi organizzativi alle scienze politiche.

1. Le scienze classiche segnano il distacco dalla galassia degli studi umani, per applicazione del metodo sperimentale allo studio dei circuiti economico-sociali, sotto lo stimolo delle rivoluzioni tecnologiche e politiche fondanti della Modernità. Ad es. all’emergere dei Capitalismi Industriali corrisponde la forma classica dell’Economia Politica in Petty, Cantillon,  Quesnais, Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Marx e von Thunen. Cui segue la fondazione della sociologia classica nei lavori di Comte, Durkheim, Weber e Schumpeter.

2. Le scienze neo-classiche nascono negli anni 1870, come reazione anti-Ricardismo ed Economia Politica classica. Esse ben corrispondono allo Zeitgeist culturale in epoca tardo-vittoriana e della Grande Vienna (con Nietzsche, Freud e Mach, i neokantiani, il neopositivismo ed il Circolo di Vienna,  utilitarismo e pragmatismo, probabilismo, quantismo e matematicismo). Nell’economia neoclassica, spicca la costruzione intellettuale del General Competitive Equilibrium (Walras, Pareto, von Neumann, Arrow). In sociologia, l’analoga sintesi di Talcott Parsons. A differenza degli altri due paradigmi, esse però non corrispondono affatto alla evoluzione storica dei sistemi sociali, al contrario: ignorano il Potere, mentre il mondo combatte due conflitti mondiali per stabilire a chi spetti l’eredità dell’Impero Vittoriano; prendono a modello la concorrenza perfetta artigianale, nell’era dei Capitalismi Monopolistici e degli oligopoli concentrati che stanno dietro gli Imperi.

3. Le scienze bio-classiche emergono come reazione ai limiti dello stutturalismo, funzionalismo e marginalismo neoclassico, specie negli anni 1970-80, dai lavori di Foucault, Sraffa, Georgescu Roegen, Nelson e Winter. Inoltre: Leontiev, Garegnani, Napoleoni, Pasinetti, Simon e Marengo,  Williamson, Merton, Luhman, Freeman, Pavitt, Dosi, Geertz, Needham e Fernandez Armesto. Esse affermano la centralità della vita e dell’evoluzione culturale – istituzionale, e corrispondono nella teoria all’affermarsi nella realtà dei sistemi bio- e tanato-politici, a partire dalla Rivoluzione d’Ottobre e la crisi della Repubblica di Weimar negli anni 1920.

Si può utilmente consultare, cliccando qui o accedendo dalla pagina AAA A dictionary .., il nostro dizionario di scienze sociali, un testo complementare a questo, con una struttura a voci, loro definizione, discussione e bibliografia. Viene periodicamente aggiornato ed ampliato.


Social sciences, being the coté collectif of human sciences (themselves, the applied scientific method coté of humanities, arts, etc.), are dealing with ACTIVITIES AND GROUPS of the human species interacting with the  biosphere, and apply specifically tailored scientific methodologies (rarely lab. ones). 

They usually include – with many intersections -something like these 12 major fields:

1 administrative and organisational studies,

2 anthropology, social anthropology; ethnology, folk-ethnic musicology and local studies, 

3 business economics and management (a section of economic sciences), 

4 cognitive sciences (shared with individual psychology, and other areas), 

5 ecology and society (global climate change, rural-urban ecosystems), ecology and history,

6 histories,  incl. cultural, economic, oral and social history, among others,

7 human ecology – geography and regional sciences, 

8 social engineering, various engineering disciplines applied to social issues, and technology studies,

9 social psychology, 

10 sociology, 

11 political economy (a section of economic sciences) 

12 political sciences and international studies.

More on this, and all the discussion that follows, in our


We may differentiate three basic paradigmatic ramifications of the entire social sciences set (through dividing lines cutting across most of them): the classical, neo-classical and bio- classical sciences of women and men in societies and spaces. In brief:

Classic economic and social sciences establish the autonomy of the field (both the full set, and specific disciplines) from humanities and philosophy, in imitation of the “new science” ideals and methods of natural sicences (Galileo, Barone and Newton).

Neo-classic social sciences arise in the last quarter of the 19th century, as a  reaction to historical studies and historicism, in anticipation of  neo-positivism. They rivendicate the same autonomy (as from Philosophy) even from History – but this scope is not shared by the majority of social scientists (exc. in part among economists). They make an incoherent, odd synthesis 

– of pre-classic VULGAR ECONOMCIS (naive apologetics of capitalist systems), 

– and of advanced mathematical methods and visions. As for the latter, even at its top (von Neumann, Arrow), neoclassicism reveals  a subordinate and lagging nature, a dependence from mathematics for physics, with exc.s (Nash: although he is not a neoclassic: only his followers reductionist in rationality, were neoclassics).

Bio-classic economic and social science approaches stem from the mainstream family of paradigms, at the foundations of social sciences (wih smooth continuity à la Marshall, no revolution). But  they rivendicate a closer link with the objects and focuses, methodology and mathematics of biology. For the first time, a revolution in paradigms is not motivated by autonomy, but – explicitly –  by eteronomy: social scences must be closer to their object, which is social life (where history blurs with nature), therefore must have closer methodological exchanges with neo-Darwinism in biology.


Classic economic and social science approaches stem from the mainstream family of paradigms, at the foundations of social sciences: Enlightment (Rousseau), classic Political Economy (Quesnais, Smith, Ricardo-Sraffa, Malthus and Marx), and the repeated but differentiated – often opposite – efforts to define a correct evolutionary approach to society (Malthus versus Marx; Comte, Pareto, Durkheim, Mauss; geopolitics, Christaller-Loesch and the Weber brothers; Marshall and Keynes -Kalecki -Minsky, Schumpeter, Leontiev; quantitative geography, Hagerstrand, Pred and Harvey; Merton, Luhman, Bourdieu; Garegnani, Pasinetti and Napoleoni; Nelson and Winter, Dosi, institutionalism and neo-institutionalism), parallelling – mutatis mutandis – Darwinism and a neo-Darwinist synthesis in biology.  And finally leading into a bio-social science. 

Their sake to adhere to empirics, in fact, has seen discontinuous changes in the ways to conceive the topology of historically relative “social labs”; in extreme synthesis:

Hegelian historicism and a genuine, naive Darwinism provided the earliest frames;

 But, as Hanna Arendt and Michel Foucault (the pioneer of Bio Social Sciences) underline, the core Political Economy component of such an emergence of Social-Political Sciences,  becoming independent from Philosophy, has an ideological flaw. Although taking distance from State power adhoring Mercantilism, and purely ideological “vulgar sociologies”, even  Quesnais, Smith and Ricardo (the champions of the new science), invent an oikos-nomia, upon the false and relativist postulate that “we all live romantically in only one family home – the Nation State – and we must love it”.

 After other discontinuities and research trajectories, in the last decades social sciences are redefining an axiomatization of their frame (space and time),  the focus being the notion of complexity in relation to an evolutionary social ecology (initially Thom and even more Prigogine were chosen as benchmarks, but they were just posing the right questions, not the answers). 

 Later on a critical voice will discover we are still now prisoners of some wrong “collectivist” axiom – no more a Nationalist one, perhaps a Global Village one? It is likely, since Classicism has an inner flaw: by differentiating from neoclassic methodological individualism, it runs on the border of a collectivist abyss; misunderstanting a social phenomenology for an ontology (Simone Weil).

Classic social sciences carry on evolving, under a double bind:

(a)  a close contact with the phenomenology of capitalisms, as testbed laboratories; 

(b) an autonomous dialogue alla pari with the episteme, methodology and modelling tools elaborated within natural sciences – in a logic of mutual check and exchange; and inner interdependence: e.g., if quantum physics discovers discontinuity and fragmentation in the hearth of matter, science tout court and even culture, language, literature  and  narrations are required to take this paradigm shift into account (Florenski). 

Both features allowed classisicsm to survive many neoclassic Tsunamis, and coming to life in various revivals, from Sraffa to neo-marxism, neo-institutionalism and bio-social sciences (it is not possible to mark precise lines neatly separating a classic from a bioclassic paradigms family).


Neoclassic economic and social science starts in the 1870s, as a neo-positivist mathematical revolution (Mach, Austrian and neo-Austrian schools, Wicksell, Walras). It creatively reflects an ideological reaction of the Late Victorian and finis Austriae bourgeois societies, deeply worried and feeling menaced (in a decadence, imminent end of old Europe context),  by the lack of any such ideological cushion, in between exploitation reality and its narration-representation, as the one previuosly supplied, e.g., by vulgar economics and sociology, or romantic art, heroes, lifestyles and values.

This means that, although collecting the legacy of early vulgar economics (Marx), neoclassic social sciences perform this narrative task within a coherent, properly scientific and much wider  frame: a unified view of societal equilibrium as a final output of a finely tuned decentralized mechanism – social and technical division of labour,  webs of institutions and  markets. The different generations of GCE models, express such an axiomatics of an ideal decentralized society (General Competitive Equilibrium: from Walras-Pareto pioneering, to von Neumann’s paradigm shift and contemporaryies: Arrow, Cass, Hahn and Sen). Its empirical correlate is highly indeterminate: a cooperativist ideal in Walras, a decentralized socialism (Barone’s “market socialism”), a stylised and deliberately unrealistic capitalism with zero monopoly power (Arrow: see his criticism to Stiglitz in his Bocconi Lecture:  even informational asymmetries reduce to a knowledge monopoly), a space-economy richly endowed with transport resources, theoretically reflecting the Fordist megalopolis (Isard, Papgeorgiou); or – our future? – a fully developed financial capitalism nightmare, where all futures markets exist and trade (Cass, Hahn; see Armageddon). 

Sociology accompanies such an evolution, with much less axiomatics and mathematics, therefore with a more substantial progress in the description of a stylized Fordist “equilibrium” and organic society. According to the Nietzsche duality, re-elaborated by German sociology, the premodern Community evaporates in the industrialised and metropolitan Society. But the latter reproduces, at some social cost (e.g., anomy, anxiety), a different type of organicism: perhaps best represented as an optimal equilibrium by the structuralist-functionalist synthesis (Talcott Parsons’ GFS – General Fordist Society).

The main tenet of neoclassic sciences is methodological individualism (no assumption of a collective entity onthology), as opposed to, or – better- different from the systems tenets of classic social sciences. Although this made their fortune from the von Neumann’s 1940s revolution onwards, down to the individualist political revolutions (Reagan, Thatcher), rejecting complex systems theory has now become  a dead end, as the most distinguished neoclassic intellectuals know well. E.g., Ken Arrow co-signs an environmental paper with natural scientists, where a dynamic systems approach to sustainability is held: even referring to the still intuitive notion of “resilience”. In fact, the baroque GCE and GFS non-systemic functionalism architectures, need a redesign from scratch: untenable Invisible Hand theorems upon fundamentals (a few robust equilibria are also Pareto optima), undermine a social design paradigm, becoming more and more irrelevant in an epoch of complex evolutionary systems in science and technology (the societal knowledge base).

Since from the start, neoclassicism rejects the post-romantic realist option chosen in other cultural fields (e.g., Verga, …). Its epistemology has been defined by one of his last major supporters, the great Milton Friedman, as an anti-Popper postulate of extreme, radical unrealism (although not all neoclassics share his view, it is the only available epistemic foundation of their total reject of falsification and phenomenological realism):

 a) social axiomatics-theories are not required to carry any element of realism;

b)  capitalisms’ phenomenology is not chosen as a testbed, a social laboratory.

c) On the contrary, the more capitalisms show a centralization and concentration of capital (as correctly anticipated by Karl Marx), the more neoclassic sciences describe a rural Atopian (socialist retro?) world of craft production, free entry and pure competition.

d) The entire neoclassic Atopia is, in principle and in fact, not subject to falsification.

e) Criticism is dismissed by the meta-assumption that neoclassic science is working for the very long term: a pure axiomatic of a society, out of historical time and forms.

f) The empirical relevance issue is dismissed by the clever, ad hoc Friedman’s “AS IF” postulate: although social actors often ignore, or do not pursue a neoclassic optimum, an Evolutionary Invisible Hand (???) guarantees that the survival of the fittest will stochastically choose – in the long run – routines and behaviours even unconsciuosly implementing a neoclassic program.

g) No empirical support has ever been produced for the AS IF postulate. At current state-of-the-art, it is a tautological tautology supporting a tautological scientific (?) methodology. 

h) In any other science, the AS IF adhockery would be dismissed as nonsense.

i) Friedman’s AS IF argument was a global mental experiment that went wrong.

j) It follows that more than 90% published economic papers do not deal with any empirical data and real fact (as noted and computed by Nobel prize Wassily Leontiev); things are much better in the other social sciences, where neoclassic money has much less value.

As a matter of fact, the neoclassic Atopia has vague correspondences in some local economies and societies, growing in the intersitices of great Empires and global trade spaces: e.g., Renaissance proto-capitalisms in a peripheral Europe, in the Golden Age of the Indian Ocean as the global marketplace (ca. 1000-1500 AC). Although there was zero free entry in urban professions: numerus clausus. To the neoclassics “l’onere della prova” it was an optimal numeurs clausus (Adam Smith very angry about it).


Bio-classic economic and social science approaches stem from the mainstream family of paradigms, at the foundations of social sciences: they are an anti-thesis to neoclassical sciences, since they destitute the ABSTRACT individual and instaure a centrality of real biological life and socio-biological processes. 

Therefore, although as a by-product they often contribute to  revitalize classical sciences (e.g., Ricardo-Marx in Sraffa, and Georgescu-Roegen bio-political economy; Dostojevkij-Freud in Girard’s bio- and thanato-anthropology), this is not their core.

The core business of bio-classical sciences is to biologize, i.e. make difference, evolution, life, self-criticality and variety enter the study of the Social Sapiens: 

– both in se: because it was adequate and necessary since from the origin on the species; 

– and per se. Since Life has already carsically re-emerged in contemporary societies, they can not be properly understood, out of bio-paradigms that need urgent R&D investments.

Variuos philosophies, like Hegelian historicism, a genuine, naive Darwinism: (coupled with the former in Marx, with positivism in Malthus and Comte) had provided the earlier frames of 19th C. Classicism. Such an approach is now seen as basically a right methodological direction, at least as a start. Then, the neo-classic parenthesis represents for bio-evolutionists a retreat backward: to static, false dynamics (von Neumann), dependence from physical results of no interest (fixed point theorem), ignoring complexity and evolution. 

A reaction leading to the “bio-social revolution” (a drastic shift in paradigm compared to neoclassicism, although not in relation to classicism), came from 2 facts:

1. structuralism, alone or in combination (with functionalism, language studies after de Saussure, systems theory), had killed the individual and his life – by hypostasis of an acceptable\disputable philosophical axiom:  for XXth C. philosophy, necessity and  determinism are in the language structure itself. The hypostasis argument adds: in every structure (Althusser: the labour process; Lacan: the subconsciuos;  etc.).

Michel Foucault’s evolving research programs, represent the revolt from inside structuralism: from a lack of Subject, to finding out his degrees of freedom (Esposito).

2. Neo-classicism, exp. in economic sciences, killed evolutionary variety, by incorporating  Fordism ONLY in the “average subject” axiom (and forgetting all its complex web of institutions and deals, systemic features and regulations). Post-fordism lead to a revolt against any legacy, even such a marginal relation of Marginalism with Fordism. Nelson and Winter did it.

After pioneering research by Foucault, Wilson’s socio-biology, Nelson and Winter, Dosi and the Santa Fe school, bio-social sciences are taking the lead in the 21st C.

Their superiority is reinforced by the correspondence with the Zeitgeist (see the importance of this factor in Schumpeter’s History of economic analysis), but lays in a largely more powerful methodology – system realism versus radical unrealism:

– neoclassics insist to apply to complex relational system the existing, eviently inadapt maths for physics (not even the better and last, supplied by econophysics): multi-level system phenomena can be modelled only at one level, to find analytical solutions;

– the complex bio-systems approach, represents relational systems as they are (multi-agent and multi-level), and gets satisfied with simulation results.

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