Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus looks at ‘civic capitalism’

Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus John O’Neill has just had a new book, Civic Capitalism, published and his 1985 work, Five Bodies: Re-figuring Relationships, republished – the first offering a reappraisal of the civic practices that he considers basic to childhood, citizenship and social justice; and the other examining how embodied selves and relationships are being shaped and refigured in modern society.

                                                                 Right: John O’Neill

In his latest book, Civic Capitalism (University of Toronto Press, 2004), O’Neill takes a serious look at childhood, which he views as the site where our notions of civic well-being are tested – and probes our culture’s “current surrender” to global capitalism and “market elites”. In sharp sketches of Canadian, US and UK practices, the sociologist and philosopher challenges readers and society in general to refocus attention on the schooling and health needs of children and the poor.

O’Neill claims that inequality, ignorance and sickness are the real impediments to economic growth and democracy in the world. He asserts that while global capitalism and market elites have exploited the national riches of civic society, education, health, the rule of law and social security, they aggressively promote “elite ideologies”,  such as anti-governance and anti-taxation, that ignore the needs of society’s most vulnerable persons.

Through focusing on such topics as “Family Capital and Child Formation”, “Child Poverty and the New Household”, “The Intelligent Welfare State” and “Three Degrees of Welfare (Class, Status and Citizenship)”, O’Neill provides a guide to civic childhood and the wealth of nations. “I especially address government policies on education and health and family support that reduce intergenerational injustice and strengthen civic democracy,” he says.

O’Neill has also written Five Bodies: Re-figuring Relationships (republished by SAGE Publications Ltd., 2004), which he has updated to address today’s issues of the body in modern life, community and politics. When first published in 1985 by Cornell University Press, the book was nominated for the John Porter Award. It was described as opening a door to “the body” as a subject for sociological research. For more information about Five Bodies, click here.

More about John O’Neill

O’Neill, who has been a Fellow of Founders College since 1964, has a number of honours to his name, including the following:

  • 1998-2001 – Visiting Research Fellow, Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • 1997-2002 – Honorary Visiting Professor, School of Social & International Studies, University of Sunderland, UK
  • 1995-2001 – Visiting Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, England
  • 1991-1994 – Senior Scholar, Laidlaw Foundation, Toronto, Children at Risk Program
  • 1990 – Visiting Scholar at the Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

O’Neill is a member of many national and international sociological associations, as well as numerous other professional groups, such as the Society for Phenomenology & Existential Philosophy, International Association for Semiotic Studies, International Association for Philosophy & Literature, Association Internationale des Sociologues de Langue Francaise, Societé des Amis de Montaigne, Renaissance Society of America, Toronto Semiotic Circle, Merleau-Ponty Circle and Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute.

In addition, O’Neill has been involved in activities associated with his work, for example, as co-editor of The Journal of Classical Sociology; member of the international advisory board in sociology of the Journal of the British Sociological Association; co-editor of the Philosophy of the Social Sciences; editor of Body and Society; member of the Royal Society of Canada Program for Global Change; and president of the Toronto Semiotic Circle and International Summer School for Structure and Semiotic Studies.