2/13 | Cooperation: A Political, Economic, and Social Theory

Rahel Jaeggi, Jens Meierhenrich, and Bernard E. Harcourt [1]


Cooperation: A Political, Economic, and Social Theory (Columbia 2023)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Maison Française, Columbia University

Additional information can be found here.


Harcourt suggests that simply by engaging in cooperative practices, we can create a “snowball” effect, propelling cooperation into the mainstream of economic life. Indeed, he does not stop there: he wants to see the snowball of cooperation overtake all aspects of how we live, including by increasing democracy and, perhaps most radically, by leading us beyond the very idea of punishment.

One of the most powerful parts of the book comes in the chapter on the social consequences of cooperation, where Harcourt argues skillfully that a truly cooperative society would sever the link between crime and punishment to strive toward a more holistic understanding of human failures and develop ways to work together to avoid or redress them. While much of the rest of the book is largely standard in the literature on cooperation, Harcourt’s link to new paradigms of justice is original. He shows that the power of cooperation is not only in how it may transform democratic participation or the economy, but also in how we conceive of the very meaning and purpose of life.

Read more here in Avram Alpert’s recent review of Cooperation in the Los Angeles Review of Books.


 [1] Due to personal circumstances, Saskia Sassen and Kendall Thomas were not able to join us.

Cooperation | Columbia University Press