Category: Things to think about

I thought this was a fascinating aside in Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology pg 63. It captures something which the contemporary sense of stereotype as reductive/cliche tends to miss: the fact these categories are impervious to countervailing evidence and reproduce the same judgement in different circumstances: It first referred to a practice in the printing […]

This description of Tony Blair’s ambitions by Alastair Campbell invites a question I’ve often wondered about. What is ‘modernising zeal’? It’s such a loaded term but clearly so significant to understand centrists dispositions yet it’s rarely, if ever, defined: But he feared that unless the party adapted to the modern post-Cold War, post-Thatcherite world, it […]

For a number of years I’ve believed we urgently need a conversation about social media governance within higher education. This is a general term for a range of mundane issues which emerge from the use of social media by those within the university (academics, students, support staff, managers etc) in ways which are likely to […]

This passage from Keri Facer’s superb Learning Futures (pg 21) captures why I’m so interested in education. I wrote a PhD on what I called personal morphogenesis: how we become who we are and how personal changes are bound up in social changes. The reason I’ve moved into education is because I want to understand how […]

Scott Lash interviewed by Nicholas Gane in the Future of Social Theory pg 105. I found this thought provoking in terms of its linking of the transcendent with the book form (the slow, careful, considered attempt to get outside of the issue) and the imminent with more feral forms of intervention outside the established repertoires […]

In his final book Metamorphosis Ulrich Beck contrasts two forms of social integration. As he writes on pg 168-169: If one understands the communities of world cities in this sense as ‘cosmopolitan communities of global risk’, however, one must abandon the widespread assumption in the social sciences that community-building is possible only on the basis […]

I thought this was a really insightful passage from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement. I’m trying to deepen my understanding of the socio-environmental at the moment (not least of all because you can’t understand Covid-19 without it) and conjunctures like this built around a specific causal relationship between the material and the social over time seem like […]

This passage from Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me (pg 108) resonated horribly with me at a time when universities are freezing their recruitment: There were a lot like me in the neighbourhood, but thirty or forty years older. I had seen them in Simon’s shop, reaching for the quality journals from the top shelf. I […]

This extract from Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject pg 451 left me reflecting on the edginess which pervades public spaces at the moment, with practical co-existence in a situation of implicit (invisible) threat clearly taking a psychological toll on many of us: This disintegration of paternal authority has two facets. On the one hand, symbolic prohibitive norms are […]

A summary of Hartmut Rosa’s recent interventions on Covid-19 from a (rapidly published) paper by Christian Fuchs: The German sociologist Hartmut Rosa (2020b) argues that the corona virus crisis means “forced deceleration”4. He argues that there is a “massive deceleration of real physical life, where on the one hand one feels silenced and excluded but […]

This extract from Xavier de la Porte’s The Imposter: BHL in Wonderland loc 1946 captured something important about intellectual culture in late neoliberalism: the essay sits in between specialised writing and the popular press, in spite of the tendency of essayists to elevate it above everything else: At the same time a structural evolution was taking […]

This call for papers looks brilliant: Special Issue CFP: “Marxist Transhumanism or Transhumanist Marxism?” To be published in New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry  Guest editors: James Steinhoff and Atle Mikkola Kjøsen In this special issue call, New Proposals asks authors to explore how Marxism and Transhumanism might be brought into conjunction. Could […]

This suggestion from Tim Wu on pg 352 of The Attention Merchants asks a question which has been on my mind a lot in the last year. If we accept the idea that distraction increases in a digital environment, in the sense of a difficulty in sustaining focus driven by the multiplication of disruptions, what does this […]