20th Century Conceptualisations of Social Justice

Part of my work has been focused on the “rediscovery” of poverty in the late sixties and how it profoundly affected the welfare state architecture in Europe and the United States. I studied how the slow production of the issue of “poverty” conceived as a floor of income both by policy makers, social scientists or political philosophers shaped more “market friendly” techniques to govern social insecurity. On long term, this project will consist into a genealogy of 20th century conceptualisation of the ‘social question’ beginning with the slow displacement of the question of equality and redistribution from the framework of welfare economics to a perspective soon dominated by moral philosophy with the publication of John Rawls’ Theory of Justice and, more generally, the ‘monetization’ of egalitarian concerns, now essentially seen through the lens of income distribution and cash transfers. 

Basic Income in a Global Perspective

Building on my previous work on political economies of poverty in the 19th and 20th century, I’m working with Anton Jäger on a book offering the first global account of how Universal Basic Income went from an obscure idea confined to economic textbooks to a planetary movement. However, rather than inscribing our account of the growing popularity of ‘UBI’ into a long, often teleological lineage tying together a heterogenous set of contexts and unconnected authors (ranging from Thomas Paine, Henry George or Edward Bellamy), our book will explore a series of intellectual shifts that affected the post-war industrial order. It will show how UBI’s dissemination is to be understood in relation to the profound transformations in how we thought about work and automation, poverty and family structures, human rights and inequality, themes very much prevalent in contemporary discussions.

Intellectual History of Neoliberalism

These questions have also conducted me to work on neoliberalism and the way it recasted the role of the state, government and reinvented how we thought about democracy. I’ve been specifically interested in Milton Friedman economic and political thought from the late thirties onwards but also to critically intervene in academic discussions about the notion of neoliberalism itself. On this particular aspect I’ve also been interested in French neoliberalism and French intellectual history more generally. I’m currently finishing, with Mitchell Dean, a book on Foucault in the aftermath of May 68 to be published in August 2019.