Economics and Politics - Theory

Fabian Elbaky
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2023W, Proseminar (PS), 2.0 ECTS, 1.0 semester hours, course number S04923


Socio-Ecological Transformation and the Political Economy of the 'Imperial Mode of Living'

The seminar deals with socio-ecological transformations of modern market societies and therefore puts a special focus on the "imperial mode of living" and, following the book of the same title by Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen (original 2017, eng.: 2021), examines the imperial logics of domination that lead to the exploitation of humans, other living beings and 'nature'.

In addition, we also analyze the social inequalities created by these structures on a global level, but also within smaller social 'units'. In doing so, the seminar offers students a critical perspective on the political and economic structures that shape and sustain the modern capitalist lifestyle. Given the current ecological crisis and the global challenges we face, it is important to explore alternatives to prevailing structures and develop strategies to create a more just and sustainable world (e.g. as intended by the SDGs).

In order to develop such strategies - be they scientific, political or artistic - an analysis of current conditions is essential. Therefore, the aim of the seminar is to develop a deep understanding of the connections between ecological, social and political challenges and to introduce and outline changes on an individual, societal and social level by reading the book ('guided' and 'close reading'). Furthermore,participants are invited to discuss the role of art as a critical factor in analyzing and shaping social-ecological transformation processes.

We will read the entire book over the course of the semester and discuss the content and theories it contains. The purchase of the book is strongly recommended (a group discount has been requested):

Brand, U., & Wissen, M. (2021). The imperial mode of living: Everyday life and the ecological crisis of capitalism (Z. Murphy King, Trans.). Verso. (230 pages)



Examination Modalities

• Regular attendance and reading of the whole book (high reading workload of about 2 chapters per week)
• Active participation and discussion in the seminar
• Short written reading notes and reflections


A high reading workload is a prerequisite for the course!

More details about the procedure of the seminar in the first session.

Students from other departments or universities will be given a place on the course subject to room capacities.


Key Words

socio-ecological transformation, political economy, sociology, theory, ecology, social natural conditions


10 October 2023, 13:00–15:00 Seminar Room 31 , "Foreword and Chapter 1" (preliminary discussion)
17 October 2023, 13:00–15:00 Seminar Room 31 , "Chapter 2"
14 November 2023, 13:00–16:00 KUG Lecture Room PSK 149 , "Chapter 3, 4 and 5"
21 November 2023, 13:00–15:00 Seminar Room 31 , "Chapter 6 and 7"
28 November 2023, 10:00–12:15 Seminar room 35 , "Chapter 8, 'afterword' and 'discussion' – Prof. Ulrich Brand (co-author of the book) will be present at the last session. More information will follow!" (guest lecture: Ulrich Brand)

Course Enrolment

From 27 July 2023, 12:00 to 31 October 2023, 23:59
Via online registration

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas 1-3: Study Area 3: Economics and Politics 569/020.03

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Economy and Politics: Deepening / Application 700/004.20

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Economy and Politics: Deepening / Application: Transcultural Studies 700/004.24

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible