Richard Biernacki 's research focuses on the historical invention of key forms of cultural practice in Europe, including the categories of labor as a commodity, ethnic identity, and property in ideas. His masterly The Fabrication of Labor: Germany and Britain -1640- 1914, (University of California, 1995) has been instrumental in redefining cultural and social research on economic institutions. Rick Biernacki has also been a leading academic advocate of qualitative methodologies in social sciences (Reinventing Evidence in Social Inquiry: Decoding Facts and Variables, New York, Palgrave Macmillan 2012).
His talk will broadens his inquiry into the cultural configuration of labor as a commodity in German versus British workshops. The cross-national difference in the practices by which elite writers transferred their work to publishers uncannily presaged the cross-national difference in how factory workers delivered their labor to employers. In turn, the form taken by each nation's canonical philosophy and literature was steered by the writers' enactment of practices that defined their labor as a commodity.