Tag: personal morphogenesis

There’s an interesting parallel between Durkheim’s conception of social regulation and what Archer calls ‘bounding variety’ and Cybernetics describes as ‘attenuating variety’. As Durkheim writes on pg 300 in a discussion of marriage and divorce, “One cannot avoid looking outside the place where one is when one no longer feels the ground to be solid […]

I just stumbled across this sketchy first draft of my PhD project written over 12 years ago: I want to explore the moral experience of young people under late modern consumer capitalism. I’m interested in the way that the changes you discuss in your later work lead to a collapse in the horizon of possible […]

From Figuring by Maria Popova pg 3-4: We spend our lives trying to discern where we end and the rest of the world begins. We snatch our freeze-frame of life from the simultaneity of existence by holding on to illusions of permanence, congruence, and linearity; of static selves and lives that unfold in sensical narratives. […]

We often think of self-narrative as something self-grounding, reflecting the truth of a person even if that truth might change over the life course. If we take issue with this, we turn to the bare objective facts of someone’s life as a counterpoint to the unreliably subjective stories they tell. This oscillation misses the important […]

In his superb From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner vividly describes The Whole Earth Catalog and the horizon it opened up for many of its readers. From loc 1212: For many, the Catalog provided a first, and sometimes overwhelming, glimpse of the New Communalists’ intellectual world. Gareth Branwyn, for instance, a journalist who later wrote for Wired magazine, […]

The self as painting: we become who we are through repetition and representation. Encumbered only by our imagination and the culture in which we find ourselves, we craft ourselves through iterated projects of self-representation. We might find the materials available to us limiting, in which case we might seek out a more diverse palette of […]

Which character from the Irvine Welsh novels has the most depth? While Francis Begbie might have counted as the most vivid, particularly as he was brought to life in Robert Carlyle’s unforgettable performance, I’d be surprised if anyone thought of him as the deepest. Yet that’s the impression one is left with after reading Irvine Welsh’s […]

A great introduction to this concept I was previously unfamiliar with, from David Frayne’s Refusal of Work, pg 149: As Bruce described his self-care habits, I was reminded of Gorz’s definition of ‘hygiene’, which for Gorz means something much more than the mundane rituals of preening and cleanliness. For Gorz, hygiene consists in a more […]

I’ve been thinking a lot about themes from my PhD recently and how to introduce them into my current work. My overarching focus was on personal morphogenesis: how people change and how we understand this process sociologically. I’m particularly interested in cases where people seek to change, though having such a goal implies neither the […]

What is the good life? It’s a question which preoccupied me in my past life as a trainee political philosopher and it’s one which still concerns me as a sociologist. It’s rarely addressed within the discipline for reasons that cut through a number of trends within the field: a hostility towards normativity, an admission of […]

I’m currently reading Vincent Deary’s How We Are. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy exploring how people change. For the last few months I’ve had a vague idea that at some point I’d like to develop themes from my PhD into a book for a wider audience. My project sought to develop a framework for studying the […]

In the last couple of years, I’ve occasionally wondered whether I’m a methodological individualist. The term carries intensely negative connotations within the areas of sociology in which I spend my time. I’m certainly not an individualist in an ontological sense: I think the social world is made up of many kinds of entities and that we can […]

Thanks to everyone who tweeted nice things. Even those people who reminded me that I’ve still got to do a viva which, unfortunately, will not be till the summer. In spite of what I wrote here I’m actually pretty pleased with it. Though some of the weekends in the last month that were entirely devoted […]

This doesn’t really map onto what I’ve actually written at all. Video abstracts are a fantastic idea but it’s perilous to do them in the middle of a five year project.

Sometimes by its very nature, routinization begets change, a desire for change that was laying dormant in the mind and cultural experience within the biography of the individual, which may then be trigged into activation by a concatenation of circumstances. Unanticipated crisis can break monotony and bring great change, anticipated change can bring realization of […]

One of the key aims of my thesis is to elaborate a theory of personal morphogenesis i.e. the psychosocial dynamics of how individuals change. In broad terms, I am construing the subject matter as biographical. I’m interested in understanding how the particular circumstances which a specific individual inhabits at a given point in time contribute to shaping who they […]