Lara Monticelli

Critical Research on Sociological Alternatives

Lara Monticelli

Critical Research on Sociological Alternatives


I am an economic and political sociologist, lecturer and public speaker interested in the critical study of contemporary capitalism, its crises and its alternatives.

I am an economic and political sociologist, lecturer and public speaker interested in the critical study of contemporary capitalism, its crises and its alternatives.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”


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    In this podcast I have been interviewed by Dr Alice Krozer (Colegio de Mexico) host of the FutureFramedTV series on inequalities. FutureFramedTV is the video platform of the online project Traces.Dreams.

    Together with Alice, we discussed about what defines capitalism, its relation to crises, and what alternatives within or outside of capitalism might look like.



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    You can browse the 2021 program of the research network “Alternatives to Capitalism” by clicking here.


    SASE Conference 2021 theme description:

    The Covid-19 pandemic challenges all kinds of taken-for-granted assumptions, within and between contemporary capitalist societies. Not only is the Covid-19 pandemic predicted by the IMF to lead to the most severe global economic downturn since the Great Depression, likely to overshadow the recession following the financial crisis of 2008. The pandemic has also disrupted and overturned deep-seated practices in our everyday life worlds; it has shaken long-established ways of organizing in companies, industries and global supply chains; and it has provoked a questioning of established growth models and sparked a return of the state, at least in some parts of the world. One might even argue that the “less is more” logic of social distancing and stay-at-home policy, together with the high uncertainty about future development, is threatening ideational core beliefs of neoliberal capitalism, ranging from global free movement, free play of markets, and unlimited exploitation of nature, together with the imaginaries and expectations built on them.

    At the same time, the pandemic has exposed the fact that contemporary societies are always as vulnerable as their most vulnerable groups. While the socio-economic impact of the pandemic varies from country to country, it has struck the weakest groups disproportionately and is likely to increase poverty and inequality within countries and at a global scale. Not only have people of color and slum dwellers been exposed to higher rates of infection and death; in many societies, workers in essential services such as care, retail, transport and others, belong to the weakest, often discriminated groups with low incomes and feeble or no social protection. But the pandemic has also made visible the mutual interdependence, obligations and need for recognition between members of societies, generating broad societal resonance for the protests of the most vulnerable against long-enshrined inequalities, discrimination and racism.

    On these grounds, the Covid-19 pandemic represents a critical conjuncture of historical dimensions, which demands scholarly investigation of its causes, dynamics and consequences. While we have some knowledge of how the pandemic came about and who is immediately affected by it, we still know little about the broader pathways that may lead out of the crisis. Are we witnessing a series of events at the confluence of structural forces that limit future possibilities and shape future action? Or are we in the midst of a historical opening of possibilities for far-reaching transformation and change in which collective expressions of everyday life experiences and social mobilization within and across groups will foster creative organizational and technological breakthroughs, generate significant policy change or even push (varieties of) capitalism onto a different, and perhaps more sustainable pathway of socio-economic development? Comparing the current conjuncture with previous ones, such as the Spanish flu, the great depression or the global financial crisis, also raises questions about the depths of its effects. Will the organization of work and family life, patterns of production and consumption, regimes of discrimination and recognition, environmental footprints, and global division of labor just snap back once Covid-19 has been overcome? Or will the pandemic have set in motion processes of gradual but transformative change at the level of the economy, group and inter- group relations, forms of organization, institutional configurations, and national and global policy?

    Because the pandemic has cut so broadly and drastically into everyday practices, its analysis calls for scholarly inquiry into the intersection and reciprocal influence of different levels of experience and action that have often been considered in isolation: individual and collective life worlds; social mobilization and inter-group relations; organizational and network dynamics; and the evolution of national, sectoral, and global institutions. For example, how have the redrawing of boundaries between work and family life, or the experience of suddenly being recognized as an “essential” occupation, shaped the way in which people collectively think about possible change, and if so, how does this translate into organizational, institutional and policy transformations? How has the pandemic refracted and amplified the resonance of longstanding protest movements, such as Black Lives Matter, and through which channels and with what consequences is this enhanced resonance feeding back into institutional and policy change?

    The SASE conference to be held virtually on 2-5 July 2021, will feature as usual papers on all issues of concern for socio-economics. But we especially welcome contributions that explore the ways in which the pandemic challenges key features of contemporary capitalist societies; the variety of pathways of socio-economic development emerging from the crisis; and the multidimensional, cross-cutting patterns of transformation or restoration resulting from critical conjunctures, past and present. SASE’s current members are uniquely positioned to offer a broad range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives on these themes, but we hope to also attract new scholars to join our conversation.


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    Together with the students and the teachers of the Master “Saperi in Transizione” (organised by the Universities of Verona, Trento and Parma) we visited the transition town of San Lazzaro in the outskirts of Bologna and the school of permaculture held at the communal gardens “Le Serre” in the city of Bologna.

    We discovered that the permaculture movement originated in Australia and that the concept of “permaculture” can be applied not only to understand synergies between herbs and plants in a vegetable garden, but also to analyse and solve communicational conflicts among human beings. The founding principles in permaculture, in fact, stress the opportunities emerging from collaboration, mutual help and collective dreaming/planning.

    To browse the photo gallery of the two-day workshop click here (photo credits: Francesco Vittori).

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    Together with the students and the teachers of the Master “Saperi in Transizione” (organised by the Universities of Verona, Bologna and Parma) we visited the eco-village of Granara in the Italian Appenines, guided by one of its founders, Dario Sabbadini.

    During the workshop, Dario accompanied us through a journey across different locations and recounted the genesis of the project and how it evolved over the years until now. Together with other inhabitants of the eco-village, we’ve been invited to attend group activities, discussions, and games. This allowed us to grasp, in a playful way, the challenges that accompany the creation and the development over time of a “real utopia” such as the eco-village of Granara.

    To browse the photo gallery of the day click here (photo credits: Francesco Vittori).

    Granara is the Italian case-study of my EU-funded Marie Curie research project EcoLabSS.


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    For info about the Master program, which is organized jointly by the University of Verona, the University of Trento and the University of Parma, visit this link:

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    The Danish Science Festival is an annual week-long festival taking place in April. The festival is comprised af more then 700 lectures and events around the country. The festival attract around 70,000 visitors every year. On April 29th, I have been invited to give an online lecture to the students at Skovskolen, KU, Nødebovej 77a.

    More info on the initiative can be found here.

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    The lecture examines the origin and meanings of prefiguration. Prefigurative politics entails a holistic approach to social change, it focuses on social reproduction and the preservation of life rather than solely economic production. The case of Occupy Wall Street is discussed to show that a growing number of contemporary social movements are implementing a dualistic strategy that simultaneously combines repertoires of action typical of protest movements with prefigurative practices focused on the embodiment of alternatives. The argument advanced is that prefigurative politics should be acknowledged as a pivotal concept in establishing a radical, emancipatory and decolonial public philosophy.

    The recorded version of the lecture can be visualised at this link.


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    To confront the multiple crises characterising contemporary capitalism, we need a historical understanding of its functioning and its elements of instability. The debate on capitalism came back to the fore due to the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Today, more than ten years later, capitalism is still the dominant system and we often hear terms like Capitalocene, platform capitalism, surveillance capitalism, accelerations, post-capitalism. In the context of its resilience, how do we work for systemic and progressive change? One example is that of prefigurative social movements. Intentional communities like Auroville in southern India can show how change can happen through interstitial mechanisms of karst-like erosion of capitalism from within.

    The webinar is part of the webinar series “Dialogue on Alternatives in Times of Global Crises” organised by the international network Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA).

    The webinar, as all the other webinars in the series, has been recorded and you can watch it here.

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    Sabato 12 dicembre alle ore 18:30 in diretta streaming.

    Per affrontare la crisi ambientale attuale occorre analizzare il sistema economico oggi dominante sul pianeta e i suoi elementi di instabilità. Ecco perchè ha senso guardare al capitalismo contemporaneo in chiave storica per avere una visione di insieme delle molteplici forme che esso può assumere. Negli ultimi anni, il dibattito sul capitalismo è tornato alla ribalta tanto che si sente spesso parlare di Capitalocene, di capitalismo della sorveglianza, di capitalismo della piattaforme digitali, di accellerazionismo, di post-capitalismo.

    Come un camaleonte, il capitalismo è infatti un sistema resiliente che è mutato attraverso le epoche storiche. Ora, sull’orlo di una nuova crisi, il capitalismo cambierà di nuovo o sarà sostituito da un nuovo sistema post-capitalistico? In questa analisi dell’oggi (e del domani che verrà), diviene importante riscoprire il ruolo dell’utopia e come essa possa essere concretizzata da movimenti sociali  che hanno l’obiettivo di prefigurare una società futura più equa, sostenibile e giusta.

    Camilla Pelosi ne discute con Lara Monticelli, ricercatrice che si occupa di questi temi presso la Copenaghen Business School in Danimarca.

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    The research network Politics Ontologies Ecologies (POE) directed by Professor Luigi Pellizzoni organises a yearly symposium to discuss, together with international speakers, a relevant publication. In 2020, the book selected for the symposium is “Experimental Practice. Technoscience, Alterontology and More-Than Social Movements” (2018, Duke University Press) by Dimitris Papadopoulos (University of Nottingham). I will be discussing the book together with Laura Centemeri, Andrea Ghelfi, Naomi Millner, Roberta Raffaetà, Luigi Pellizzoni and the author, Professor Dimitris Papadopoulos.

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    The Universities of Verona, Trento and Parma are collaborating to launch a new joint Master program titled “Saperi in Transizione”. This event is part of a series of presentations aimed at presenting the Master, its contents and its goals to potentially interested students. I am going to teach a module titled “Prefiguration and Utopias of Common Life” and, for this online presentation, I will speak about the concept of prefiguration.