June Workshop – Breakdown

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We would like to thank everyone who attended and especially the speakers who made our event what it was.

Over the next few weeks we will be uploading some recording of the event, our recording of the first day failed, so we are sorry we cannot bring you that. but we do have the rest.

A month later and the UK still seems to be in Limbo, there has been a seismic shift in UK Politics, and most of the nation are attempting to find their feet.

This workshop aimed to test two strands of political economy theory against the turbulence of the background to and sequel to the referendum.  Speakers agreed that the referendum and its outcome provided no solution to the Economic and political crisis of British capital and the broader problems of the world economy.

Bob Jessop’s strategic relational approach to understanding the state was contrasted with conventional approaches which saw the state as a machine or a subject. Instead the SRA sees the state as an ensemble of social relations between contending factions of the ruling class and opponents. This fitted well with the current conjuncture.

Ngai-Ling Sum’s Cultural Political Economy tied in with this approach by analysing how different economic discourses are developed and how some are selected over others to govern political practice depending on the balance of social forces.

George Kerevan traced the history of the British political elite’s frequently ambivalent relationship with the EU and forerunner, EEC. He placed this in the context of struggles around how best to solve the problems of British capitalism – the need for markets and economies of scale but low investment, poor productivity and profitability.

Brian Parkin focused on the political economy of possibility, showing how innovations around alternative energy and new uses of hydrocarbons with low emissions offered the basis of an alternative economic strategy.

Neil Davidson showed how ideas of nation and nationalism develop in tandem with the evolution of the capitalist state. Nationalism becomes the ideology of choice of the capitalist state but is contested by the political left.

Neoliberal economic discourse was examined in detail. Any legitimacy of ideas it had were being replaced by increasingly coercive social policies. However there were opportunities for progressive politics in the uncertain turbulence brought about by the referendum outcome and the ongoing problems of British capitalism and fractures in the social relations of the state.

June Workshop Schedule

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This event happened in June 2016


Day 1, Friday 24th June.

Day one will set the scene. Immediate reactions to the referendum will be followed by an opening session on the importance of theory in understanding the state. The workshop will therefore begin with an immediate reaction to the outcome of the referendum which will provide a background set of political and economic issues and practical implications against which an opening analysis of state theory can be developed.


Registration & Bookstall & Coffee


Day 1, Welcome & Introduction

Why a workshop on the State? A theoretical understanding of power and the state will be presented as essential in the historic context of the referendum outcome


Session 1 – Panel: Referendum Outcome

Initial reaction: commentary and discussion. A series of short initial assessments from different perspectives on the constitutional and political issues emerging from the referendum and implications for the British State, Scotland and the EU from speakers, to be followed by questions from participants and discussion.


Session 2 – The State, Past Present & Future

State theory, states, and state power

Speaker: Bob Jessop.

University of Lancaster


Session 3 – Discussion

An open discussion on state theory in the context of the EU referendum result.


Wine Reception

Finish 20:30

Day 2, Saturday 25th June.

Today will begin with a reprise by George Kerevan, journalist, political economist and MP of the referendum outcome and the main issues and challenges confronting the British and Scottish economies in which the state is implicated followed by a case study of energy, the environment and the state. Discussion will then continue on the theme which ended Day 1 of exploring how theoretical work on capitalism, power and the state can assist us in understanding these issues.

Finally a second panel discussion will conclude the workshop, bringing the theoretical expositions and empirical issues together in a final discussion focusing on practical political implications. This session will include all the speakers and address issues emerging from Day 1 and those which arise during day 2.


Registration & Bookstall & Coffee


Day 2, Welcome & Introduction


Session 1 – Referendum Outcome II

With the results of the referendum now 24 hours old and opinion flooding in, this session will review reactions and reflect on the challenges facing British capitalism, the European Union and the state.

Speaker: George Kerevan.

Journalist, economist and MP


Session 2 – Oil, Energy & the Environment

Oil, energy and the environment are never far from the economic agenda in Scotland and Aberdeen in particular. This session will address the implications of the European debate for energy policy and the prospects for and obstacles to a green energy led industrial renaissance.

Speaker: Brian Parkin.

Research Fellow, University of Leeds


Session 3 – Power and Hegemony

Learning from Marx, Gramsci and Foucault with a case study; Changing nation, state and power in China/Hong Kong:

Speaker: Ngai-Ling Sum.

University of Lancaster




Session 4 – The Necessity of Nation-States for Capital

Speaker: Neil Davidson

University of Glasgow.




Session 5 – The State, Economy, Power and Political Practice.

This final panel discussion with contributions from participants will respond to issues raised during the two days with a focus on applying the theoretical framework on power and the state to derive practical interventions.



June Workshop: The Political Economy of Nations, States, and Power in Europe and beyond

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This event happened in June 2016


The referendum debate has thrown up key issues of state, nation and the economy. Few discussions on the critical issues facing the people of Scotland and the UK far less Europe, and other developed and developing countries in the world economy can proceed far before the issues of power and the state emerge. But what is the state and what is its relationship to other centres of power, regional blocs such as the EU and to the issues of money, finance and capital accumulation? How did the state and the system of nation states emerge, and how are we to understand the role of the state in contemporary capitalism?

Much globalization discourse questioned whether the individual national (territorial) state would survive tendencies for the internationalization of production and exchange and the emergence of regional trading agreements. The financial crisis that began in 2007, however, showed how central the state is to capitalism through the many rescue packages of endangered banks and other financial institutions by central banks, states or international financial bodies dominated by major states.

With economic recovery following the crash of 2007 at best weak and against the backcloth of the referendum result, this workshop addresses the key economic issues of today with a focus on the critical role played by the state. After critically reviewing the implications of the referendum outcome, speakers will examine in detail alternative perspectives on power and the state and the history and trajectory of the system of nation states from a political economy framework.

The workshop will be of particular interest to political activists, final and post graduate students and academic staff from a wide range of disciplines

Schedule for the event


Local speakers from politics/IR/sociology/business school to be confirmed.

Ngai-Ling Sum Ngai-Ling Sum: Is Reader in Cultural Political Economy at the Department: Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University. Her interests centre on the regulation approach in political economy, international political economy, and the challenges of post-structuralism. She has a particular interest in developing a ‘cultural political economy’ that combines the ‘cultural turn’ and the study of ‘political economy’ considered both as a set of methods and as a field of study. Together with Bob Jessop she is a co-director of the Cultural Political Economy Research Centre with whom she also co-authored the much acclaimed book, Towards a cultural political economy: putting culture in its place in political economy. More recently, Ngai-ling has been working on global governance, transnational business governance, corporate social responsibility and the cultural political economy of competitiveness.
Bob Jessop Bob Jessop: Has published extensively on state theory, the financial crisis and political economy. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Lancaster. Bob is co-director of the Cultural Political Economy Research Centre and co-author with Ngai-Ling Sum of Towards a cultural political economy: putting culture in its place in political economy. His new book, The State: Past, Present, Future was published in 2015 and he has co-edited a recent book on the cultural political economy of the financial crisis: Financial Cultures and Crisis Dynamics (Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy).
Neil Davidson Neil Davidson: Worked as a state manager for the Scottish Government and its predecessors for over twenty years, but now lectures in sociology with the School of Political and Social Science at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of The Origins of Scottish Nationhood (2000), Discovering the Scottish Revolution (2003), for which he was awarded the Deutscher Prize, How Revolutionary Were the Bourgeois Revolutions? (2012). Holding Fast to an Image of the Past (2014), We Cannot Escape History (2015) and Nation-States: Consciousness and Competition (2016).
Goerge Kerevan Goerge Kerevan: Is a Scottish journalist, economist and Scottish National Party (SNP) politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Lothian since May 2015 and is a member of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee. George was Associate Editor of The Scotsman newspaper for nine years and now writes a weekly column for The National. Goerge Studied political economy at Glasgow University. For 25 years he lectured on economics at Edinburgh’s Napier University, where he specialised in energy and the Scottish economy. During the referendum campaign he co-authored a book with Alan Cochrane, Scottish editor of the Daily Telegraph, in which he put the case for independence, with Cochrane arguing for the Union.
user_avatar Brian Parkin: Originally a design engineer, he became an energy economist before joining the National Union of Mineworkers as a Research Officer in 1987. This position involved the detailed analysis of energy privatisations and the economics of nuclear power and resulted in appearances before Commons Select committees as well as EU Energy Directorate consultations.
Dr Parkin is a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds and he is presently engaged in the initial stages of radical energy, environmental and diversification strategies in Scotland.