Partner Group in Poland: Max Planck Partner Group for the Sociology of Economic Life

Between 2017 and 2023, the Max Planck Partner Group for the Sociology of Economic Life in Warsaw conducted research on the social and institutional embedding of economic action, with a focus on further developing the concept of “fictional expectations” and on the impact of digital platforms on contemporary capitalism.

The international Max Planck Partner Group in Warsaw was launched in April 2017 between the MPIfG and the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFiS PAN). It was led by the economic sociologist Marcin Serafin, a former doctoral and postdoctoral researcher at the MPIfG.

Research in the Partner Group covered two areas. The first, Linking Ecologies and Digital Platforms, theorized structures that connect dispersed social actors and shape large-scale dynamics of globalization, financialization, and mediatization. Central to this research was the question of how digital platforms such as Uber, Airbnb, or transform these structures, rearrange wealth and power beyond the regulations of nation-states, and afford agency to algorithmic devices.

The second research area, Moral Economies and Contested Futures, explored the cultures of aspirations and expectations in different domains of economic life, focusing on public and private moralities of money, finance, and wealth. Drawing on ethnographic approaches to everyday calculations and transactions in family householding contexts, the research revealed the enduring significance of intimacy, kinship, and intergenerational obligations for contemporary capitalist dynamics.

Working alongside Partner Group leader Marcin Serafin were Mateusz Halawa, Marta Olcoń-Kubicka, and Krzysztof Niedziałkowski. The closing workshop was held on September 5, 2023, at the MPIfG in Cologne.

Through its Partner Groups, the Max Planck Society (MPG) supports outstanding early-career researchers who have worked at one of its institutes and are returning to their country of origin. The MPG collaborates with countries that are interested in strengthening their research through international cooperation, the aim being to strengthen the research landscapes in those countries and to advance international scientific networking.

New Research Group on Contested Ecologies of Capitalist Democracies
The beginning of the new year also marked the beginning of a new research group at the MPIfG. Led by Leon Wansleben, Contested Ecologies of Capitalist Democracies turns its attention to one of the most urgent challenges facing contemporary society today: climate change and its consequences.

Selected publications of the partner group

Mazur, Joanna, Marcin Serafin
Stalling the State: How Digital Platforms Contribute to and Profit From Delays in the Enforcement and Adoption of Regulations. In: Comparative Political Studies 56(1), 2023, 101–130.
Serafin, Marcin
Cabdrivers and Their Fares: Temporal Structures of a Linking Ecology. In: Sociological Theory 37(2), 2019, 117–141.
Serafin, Marcin
Contesting the Digital Economy: Struggles Over Uber in Poland. In: Simone Schiller-Merkens, Philip Balsiger (eds.), The Contested Moralities of Markets. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Bingley: Emerald Publishing, 2019, 187–201.
González, Felipe, Marcin Serafin
Entrevista: Incertidumbre y el orden social de los mercados: Introducción a la sociología económica de Jens Beckert. In: Papeles de Trabajo 11(20), 2017, 125–129.
Halawa, Mateusz, Fabio Parasecoli
Designing the Future of Polish Food: How Cosmopolitan Tastemakers Prototype a National Gastronomy. In: Gastronomica 22(3), 2022, 8–18.
Olcoń-Kubicka, Marta
Pursuit of Fairness in Household Financial Arrangements Among Young Middle-Class Couples in Poland. In: Journal of Consumer Culture 20(2), 2020, 156–174.
Olcoń-Kubicka, Marta, Mateusz Halawa
Making a Living: How Middle-Class Couples in Warsaw Start and Practice a Household. In: Kultura i Społeczeństwo 62(4), 2018, 91–111.
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