Critical theory of institutions


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Interdisciplinary study of institutions and society in the 21st century – politics, economics, technology, epistemology

Course code: 102

Year of Study: Without

Course principal and lecturer:
Prof. Werner Bonefeld, Ph. D.
Uroš Kranjc, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussion classes


Course syllabus


Enrollment in doctoral studies


Content (Syllabus outline):

History of economic thought:

  • Pre-scientific era: Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Scots Dunn, econometricians (Turgot), mercantilists, physiocrats, etc.;
  • Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and the classics;
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels;
  • Marginalist revolution (C. Menger, S. Jevons, L. Walras);
  • Neoclassical economics (A. Marshall);
  • The rise of heterodox economic strands (various schools: Institutional, (Post-Keynesian, Austrian, Marxist, Feminist, Environmental, etc.).


Marx and the readings of his works:

  • The “New Reading of Marx”;
  • Logical-historical (new orthodox) readings.


Veblen and institutions:

  • Old and new institutional economics;
  • The notion of institution in the fields of various sociological, political, and economic strands.


Towards new philosophical grounds for a critical theory of institutions:

  • The critical theory of the Frankfurt School (T. Adorno, A. Sohn-Rethel, etc.);
  • Badiou and the logics of (economic) worlds;
  • Castoriadis and the imaginary institution of society.



  • Adorno, Theodor W. 2003. Negative Dialektik. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.
  • Ayres, Clarence E. 1952. The Industrial Economy: Its Technological Basis and Institutional Destiny. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Backhaus, Hans-Georg. 2011. Dialektik Der Wertform : Untersuchungen Zur Marxschen Ökonomiekritik. 2. Durchgesehene Aufl ed. Freiburg: Ça ira.
  • Badiou, Alain. 2006. L’être et l’événement 2 : Logiques des mondes. Paris: Ed. du Seuil.
  • Bonefeld, Werner. 2014. Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy: On Subversion and Negative Reason. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Bonefeld, Werner. 2017. The Strong State and the Free Economy. London: Rowman & Littlefield International.
  • Bonefeld, Werner. 2023. A Critical Theory of Economic Compulsion : Wealth Suffering Negation. Routledge.
  • Bonefeld, Werner, and Chris O’Kane. 2022. Adorno and Marx : Negative Dialectics and the Critique of Political Economy. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1975. L’institution imaginaire de la société. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
  • Clarke, Simon. 1982. Marx Marginalism and Modern Sociology : From Adam Smith to Max Weber. London: MacMillan.
  • Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1972. L’Anti-Œdipe. Paris: Minuit.
  • Haug, Wolfgang Fritz. 1980. Predavanja za uvod v “Kapital”, trans. Rado Riha. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba.
  • Heinrich, Michael. 2020. Die Wissenschaft Vom Wert : Die Marxsche Kritik Der Politischen Ökonomie Zwischen Wissenschaftlicher Revolution Und Klassischer Tradition 8 Edition. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot.
  • Kranjc, Uroš. 2018. “Logic(s) of the Value Form – Marx With Badiou”, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 14 (3):72-102.
  • Kurz, Robert. 2012. Geld Ohne Wert : Grundrisse Zu Einer Transformation Der Kritik Der Politischen Ökonomie. 3. Auflage. Berlin: Horlemann.
  • Marx, Karl. 1961–1973. Kapital: kritika politične ekonomije. 1. – 3. Zvezek, trans. S. Krašovec, et al. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba.
  • Rancière, Jacques. 1989. “The Concept of ‘Critique’ and the ‘Critique of Political Economy’, In: Ideology, method and Marx: essays from economy and society. (Ed.) Ali Rattansi. London: Routledge.
  • Riha, Rado, and Slavoj Žižek. 1985. Problemi teorije fetišizma. Ljubljana: Univerzum.
  • Schumpeter, Joseph A. 1997. History of Economic Analysis. London: Routledge.
  • Veblen, Thorstein. 1964. The Instinct of Workmanship and the State of the Industrial Arts, New York: Augustus M. Kelley.
  • Veblen Thorstein. 1973. The Theory of the Leisure Class. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Wolff, Richard D., and Stephen A. Resnick. 2012. Contending Economic Theories : Neoclassical Keynesian and Marxian. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Objectives and competences:

  • Students will gain a broad insight into different historical strands and perspectives of economic thought;
  • The ability to develop a critical and interdisciplinary approach to relations between philosophical categories, economic concepts and scientific notions;
  • To acquire new knowledge for an alternative assessment of the current state-of-affairs in political economy, its discourse and ideological representation.

Intended learning outcomes:

The general aim of the course will be to supply students with alternative views in the history of economic thought through the articulation of new conceptual devices for a progressive understanding of the political economy of institutions conceived as a critical theory.


Learning and teaching methods:

Types of learning/teaching:

  • Frontal teaching
  • Work in smaller groups or pair work
  • Independent students work
  • e-learning


Teaching methods:

  • Explanation
  • Conversation/discussion/debate
  • Work with texts
  • Different presentations



  • 20 % Short written assignments
  • 80 % Long written assignments