Ron Stanfield receives the 2006 Veblen-Commons Award for his intellectual and personal contributions to political economy. His major conceptual contributions encompass the economic surplus, socioeconomic reproduction, disembedded economy, and "nurturance gap." On a personal note, he first wrote to me in answer to a letter of mine in 1986, and over the past twenty years he has had an enormous impact on my academic development. His influence on many others has been similarly profound.
Ron to me is, first, a composite of six of my favorite intellectual spirits all roiled into one--Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, Joseph Schumpeter, Karl Polanyi, Eric Fromm, and John Kenneth Galbraith--and, second, of course, a creative person sui generis--original, eclectic, and innovative.
Like Marx, Ron demystifies the social relations underlying reproduction; yet Stanfield deepens the social, institutional, and psycho-cultural realms of reproduction. He goes beyond Marx by seeing a broader realm of reality, but fundamentally following Marx's own research program. Ron is also more sociable, humble, and participatory than Marx ever was!
Like Veblen, he comprehends the ramifications of pecuniary culture for social and environmental life. Ron analyzes the institutional underpinnings of ceremonial dominance, conspicuous consumption, and the life process of the community. But unlike Veblen, Ron has a more stable family environment, lived in a different era, and never mumbled into his beard to reduce student numbers in his classes. Ron was spurred into motion by the Spring of '67, cultural change, and the Great Capitalist Restoration.
Like Schumpeter, Ron seeks to analyze the contradictory dynamics of creative destruction within technological society. But more like...