CfP: The Future Between Progress and Regression

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, it has become “second nature” of sorts for social theorists to be reluctant to address explicitly the future of western societies, capitalism, modern democracy, and human civilization. After postmodernist critics in the social sciences and the humanities, had highlighted the affinity between utopianism and forms of totalitarianism, social theorists began to refrain from recognizing as part of their distinguishing responsibility efforts to refine existing and to delineate new perspectives on the future. The emphasis shifted to avoiding the kind of ideations that could be construed to be conducive to the types of socially, politically and economically induced catastrophes as they characterized social, political, and economic change during the twentieth century, in different parts of the world, at different times.

Today, however, under conditions of globalization and neoliberalism, the imminence of change has pushed itself aggressively to the forefront of social-theoretical concerns. The inevitability of change is undeniable, and its centrality to modern civilization increasingly disconcerting. Many working assumptions that informed concerns of social theorists during the twentieth century, and especially since the 1950, have become questionable. Totalitarianism is rearing its ugly head again, on all continents. Popular support for democracy has been on the decline for decades, especially among younger people. Ecological and climate crises demand strategies for addressing intended and unintended consequences that democratic processes and institutions do not appear to be able to develop, not to mention implement. Another wave of automation is taking shape threatening to lead to mass unemployment. The list goes on and on. Thus, the imperative to engage in informed and critically reflexive discourses about the kind of world we will, should, or might live in, continues to intensify rapidly. At the same time, proliferating economic and financial crises appear to lead to greater public and critical awareness. While some interpret these crises as indications of the prospects of revolutionary change “improving society” (e.g., Occupy Wall Street), many more appear to be drawn to authoritarian “solutions” to imminent problems.

This conference will provide a venue for engaging in interdisciplinary constructive and critical exchange regarding the future – in a field of tensions defined by conflicting forces pushing and pulling for and against progress and regression, utopia and dystopia, social justice and proliferating inequalities.


Harry F. Dahms, Sociology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, USA
Frank Welz, Sociology, University of Innsbruck, Austria

The organizers welcome proposals on any topic in social theory, and request submission of abstracts (between 150-250 words), 5-page outlines, papers, or proposals for panels. Papers will receive preferred consideration. For list of conference theme-related topics, submission deadline, and registration fee, see the following page.

List of possible session topics:

1. “The End of History” Revisited
2. Globalization or Empire?
3. Affinities and Tensions between Philosophy and Social Science
4. The Future of “Democracy”
5. The Trump Presidency
6. Critical Theory: The Problem of Praxis
7. Feminist Futures
8. Resurgence of Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism
9. Critical Theories and Intersectionality: Race, Class, Gender
10. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy
11. Social Justice under Attack
12. Environmental Challenges and Social Theory
13. Utopia & Dystopia
14. The End of Work in Philosophy and Social Science
15. Planetary Sociology
16. European Integration: Failure or Continuing Promise?
17. An End or The Future (or End?) of Progress
18. Posthumans and the End of Nature

MARCH 15, 2017
Early submissions strongly encouraged!

Acceptance decisions will be made on a continuous basis.

(If acceptance notifications are needed prior to the official submission deadline,
please contact Harry F. Dahms directly, at

Papers accepted for inclusion in the program will be considered for publication in

Current Perspectives in Social Theory (ed. Harry F. Dahms)

For submission of proposals and inquiries, please contact:

Registration Fee: $75

For additional information, visit

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