Tag: social theory

  • How to enjoy reading social theory

    I wrote recently about my route into theory after reflecting on why some people enjoy reading theory while others don’t. Taking inspiration from The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction I thought it would be worthwhile to share a little about how I navigate theoretical literature, some of which I’ve learned from others […]

  • Why do some people enjoy social theory while others don’t?

    It occurred to me recently that I’ve been reading theory on a regular basis for over two decades now. I first encountered philosophy as an A Level Student in Religious Studies (post-secondary education aged 16-17) through Buddhist philosophy and Christian arguments for the existence of God. The first full work of philosophy I ever read […]

  • David Hume on escaping an overheated brain

    I’ve mentioned this passage from A Treatise of Human Nature to a couple of people recently. I encountered it as an undergraduate philosophy student and it has always stayed with me, as an insight into Hume the author and as a commendably honest reflection on the strange nature of philosophical reasoning. In it Hume reflects on how […]

  • A few sketchy thoughts on how theory is accelerating

    A few sketchy thoughts on how theory is accelerating

    To speak of the acceleration of social theory can sound counter intuitive, as we often regard theory as a quintessentially slow pursuit in which careful reflection leads to a gradual accumulation of insight. But there are a number of mundane senses in which theory is getting faster: There is likely to be more being published […]

  • Social theory as sociology’s meta-conversation

    My notes on Lichterman, P (2017) On Social Theory Now: Communicating Theory Now. Perspectives 39(2) In this response to Social Theory Now, Paul Lichterman offers a compelling vision of social theory as sociology’s meta-conversation, with communicating theory being “to keep track of and facilitate that conversation, treating it as always in movement”. It is a sprawling conversation about […]

  • When sociology becomes a source of legitimation rather than critique: the case of Anthony Giddens

    My notes on Skeggs, B. (2019). The forces that shape us: The entangled vine of gender, race and class. The Sociological Review, 67(1), 28-35. How do we make sense of the influence of Antony Giddens? The first page of his Google Scholar profile shows 149,243 citations with many more to be expected if one were inclined to dig […]

  • Sally Rooney on Theory Anxiety

    There are many reasons to like Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends but the one I hadn’t expected was her depiction of theory anxiety: I concluded that some kinds of reality have an unrealistic effect, which made me think of the theorist Jean Baudrillard, though I had never read his books and these were probably not the […]

  • The rightward drift of Slavoj Žižek

    I’ve picked up a Slavoj Žižek book for the first time in a while and found the characteristics which led me to take a break from his writing have only grown over time. He links Me Too to victimhood early in Like A Thief In Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Humanity. From pg 6: As […]

  • Against poststructuralism

    I thought these reflections by Mariano Zukerfeld on pg 4 of his Knowledge in the Age of Digital Capitalism were absolutely spot on. It would unfair to present this as a characteristic of poststructuralism as such, but there can be a dogmatism to poststructuralist thinkers which is all the more frustrating for their own obliviousness to it: On […]

  • The generational politics of critical theory

    This observation from loc 785 of The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Razmig Keucheyan caught my eye. His concern is with the intellectual implications of a generation’s dominance within critical thought: The new critical theories have not been developed by ‘new’ theorists, if by that is meant biologically young intellectuals. There are, of course, young […]

  • Hybrid formats for communicating theory

    For the next edition of Social Media for Academics, I’ve been thinking a lot about hybrid formats for presenting theoretical ideas through social media. A really powerful example of this is the video essay Camera Ludica by marco de mutiis which explores photography in video games through a three-part essay combining in game footage, plain […]

  • The Sociology of Stupid Assumptions

    A few months ago, I recounted to a collaborator the details of a foolish mistake I made when planning a special occasion. Assuming the cake would be the easiest item on a long to do list, I left this till last, failing to recognise that cakes of this sort would require a lot of notice. […]

  • Understanding the agency of people we disapprove of

    Why do people do what they do? It is a question at the heart of the human sciences but it is also one we ask in everyday life. However the way we ask it often tracks our prior feelings towards the people we ask it of. For instance, as Jana Bacevic has argued, many fail […]

  • When a conference has a meta-conference: reflections on the first day of live blogging at #undisciplining

    Though Pat, Kate Thomas and I made initial contributions to the live blogging project yesterday, it really kicked off today when the main Undisciplining conference began. The day started with a short meeting for our co-researchers, before we all set off on our way through the conference. These are the results of day one: Trying to […]

  • The role of dichotomies in social theory

    I spent much of the recent Accelerated Academy talking about the limitations of the fast/slow dichotomy and my concern that the framing of our series entrenches it. To talk of the ‘accelerated academy’ implies there was once a slow(er) academy and hints that the pathologies we currently face could be overcome by reclaiming what has […]

  • Barbara Adam on the practice of theorising

    In her keynote at the Accelerated Academy, Barbara Adam explains how she came to her concept of timescapes. It began with the study of social theory of time, leading her to recognise how “everyone used the same word but they didn’t talk about the same thing” because this was “a multiple compound concept, not a […]

  • Using social media as a social theorist

    A video of my talk is available here, starting at 2 hours in.