Saving ‘World Market Society’ from itself? Risk, the New Politics of Inequality and the Agents of World Market Society

Alex Nunn


Socio-economic inequality is now firmly on the international political agenda. In recent years the World Economic Forum, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, World Bank and International Monetary Fund have all produced publications lamenting increased inequality and its impact on political stability, the fragility of the international financial system and growth. This paper argues that this interest needs to be located in the emergence of an expanding ‘world market society’ (WMS) that these organisations are both representative of and have sought to promote. They are now also engaged in a complex process of identifying and seeking to manage systemic risks to WMS expansion, arising from the expansion process itself, with socio-economic inequality now seen as one of these. Several factors though suggest that their efforts may not be successful. These include the lack of capacity of international organisations to manage risk independently of their mainly state-scale allies and their inability to escape the objective of WMS expansion as they seek to manage risks to it. The paper argues therefore that there is an emergent New Global Politics of Inequality whose forlorn objective is to save world market society from itself.

Key Words: World Society; Inequality; Risk; International Organisation; World Market; International Monetary Fund; World Bank; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; World Economic Forum.

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