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David Ciepley


Current position: Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm Univiersity, Sweden

During his AIAS-COFUND Fellowship, David Ciepley worked on the project 'Our Corporate Civilization in Crisis: Constitutional Democracy, the Corporation, and the Problem of Control'.

Project description

The question driving my work is whether a corporate economy is, or can be made, compatible with constitutional democracy.  In order to get new leverage on this question, my book project traces the corporate origins of both modern constitutionalism and the modern business corporation, each of which developed from out of England’s early “corporate empire.”  In the early 19th century, Americans brought these together, creating the first corporate economy in the first modern constitutional republic.  The book then reviews the 200-year struggle of Americans to keep the former consistent with the latter.  In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that a corporate economy fixated on short-term share price is not compatible with constitutional democracy, owing to the sharp inequality it generates, its underinvestment in long-term value creation and other public goods, and its penchant for heightened coercion in the workplace.  The book’s final chapters, to be completed at Aarhus, explore exportable alternatives to the stockholder-dominated corporation, including especially the Danish system of “industrial foundations,” which were once common in the US also before a tax law change in 1969.

Project title: 

Our Corporate Civilization in Crisis: Constitutional Democracy, the Corporation, and the Problem of Control

Area of research: 

Political and Legal Theory

Fellowship period:

1 Oct 2021 - 31 Mar 2023

Fellowship type

AIAS-COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

This fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.