Tag: social theory

ICA Pre-Conference “ARTICULATING VOICE. THE EXPRESSIVITY AND PERFORMATIVITY OF MEDIA PRACTICES” Sponsored by the Philosophy, Theory and Critique (PTC) Division of the International Communication Association Event date: 24 May 2018, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Prague, Czech Republic Deadline for proposals: 10 January 2018 (300-500 words abstract) Location: Main Conference Hotel Organizers: Christian Pentzold (University […]

In the new year, I’ll be giving a talk at the Arctic University of Norway on using social media as a social theorist. This post is an initial attempt to get my thoughts on paper before the break, in order to make it easier to get the talk written when I get back from holiday. […]

The Concept Lab would meet on a weekly basis, usually for an hour unless there was logistical business to be undertaken concerning the future of the lab. Each meeting would revolve around a presentation from one member, detailing either: A practical problem they have faced in their research, as well as a singular concept they […]

This is a wonderful expression I just picked up from Machine, Platform, Crowd by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson. As they describe on pg 112-113, suitcase words jumble together multiple meanings in a way which renders questions more obscure than they would otherwise be: Is generative-design software really “creative?” It’s a hard question because creativity is […]

Call for papers to a special issue of Technological Forecasting and Social Change [SSCI 3.226, Scopus, CNRS***, ABS***, VHB***]. Guest editors Steffen Roth, La Rochelle Business School and Yerevan State University Harry F. Dahms, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Frank Welz, University of Innsbruck Sandro Cattacin, University of Geneva There once was a time when leaders could both appreciate books and govern empires […]

While Margaret Archer’s theoretical work is widely respected, it is often categorised as little more than an elaboration of Roy Bhaskar and a critique of Anthony Giddens. This framing leaves it secondary to Critical Realism and Structuration Theory, understandable (though limiting) in the former case and deeply inaccurate in the latter case. Reading Envisioning Sociology […]

In his magisterial A Secular Age, Charles Taylor introduces the notion of ‘subtraction stories’ to describe our dominant narratives of secularisation. This narrative structure is crucial to teleological thought, explaining our current situation in terms which preclude any backwards movement. As he explains on pg 22, Concisely put, I mean by this stories of modernity in […]

The individual is an unpopular category within contemporary social thought. To be concerned with the individual is taken to imply individualism, something which falls outside the range of acceptability for the cultural politics prevalent within British sociology. This is amplified by an intellectual impulse to transcend the individual as a unit of analysis, bound up […]

I just returned from a Remembrance Day service, pondering the relationship between acceleration and the profane after finding the array of people walking past and through the service deeply irritating. It occurred to me that what marks out such a space as sacred, distinguished from the normal flow on everyday life, rests as much on […]

Within contemporary British Sociology, it can seem like a strange question to ask if the discipline has a moral vision. There are moral commitments which animate much of the activity which takes place within it, manifested in a range of motives including revealing vested interests through critique of ideology, describing inequalities in order to facilitate their amelioration, giving […]

A line amongst fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus says ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing‘. This was the inspiration for Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay on the hedgehog and the fox. Berlin takes these words figuratively to illustrate a divide between two styles of thinker: For there exists a […]

In the conclusion to Alt-America, David Neiwert indites liberalism for its contribution to the circumstances within which Trumpism has emerged. These are circumstances within which, as he puts it on loc 5859, Trump “is simultaneously responding to and creating the conditions that could easily lead to the genuine growth of fascism”. From loc 5981-6001, he takes aim […]

I enjoyed the Japan in a Digital Age conference today, keynoted by the cultural anthropologist Ian Condry. He took an ethnographic approach to the decline of the recording industry, drawing on fieldwork in Tokyo, Boston, and Berlin to illustrate how musicians are adapting to the steady unwinding of the familiar commodity form for the production, […]

What can sociology learn from its archive? In asking this question, I mean archive in the broadest sense, far beyond the formal outputs of the discipline. I spent much of yesterday in the Foundations of British Sociology archive at Keele University, gifted to the university by the Institute of Sociology when it dissolved in 1955. This […]

There’s a wonderful essay by the playwright Alan Bennet in the London Review of Books, written 35+ years ago, reflecting on his fascination with Erving Goffman’s micro-sociology. His preoccupation was with the minutiae of everyday conduct, identified and described so astutely in Goffman’s work. Sociological observations in this register highlight our commonality, helping us see that individual experiences […]

There’s a section in this 1997 chapter by Roger Burrows which my thoughts have been intermittently turning to since reading it last week. On pg 235 he writes: It is not just technology which appears to be accelerating towards meltdown, so are our cultural and sociological understandings of the world. The speed at which new […]

Does social media lead to a devaluation of introspection? This is what Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp claim on loc 4098 of their The Mediated Construction of Reality: The selfie stamps the marker of ‘the self’ onto whatever things a person wants to record as a way of increasing its value. But why should that […]

In the last few days, I’ve been reading Hilary Clinton’s What Happened and reflecting on it as an expression of a political centrism which I suspect is coming to an end. These self-defined ‘modernisers’ sought to adapt their respective political parties to what they saw as a new reality, necessitating that they be ‘change-makers’ while […]

Why is it that some social norms are unexpectedly stable up to a tipping point, like homophobia in football, but change rapidly once they start to do so? And what stabilizes revenge norms even after effective legal orders have been established? Apparently, social and legal norms are not made for eternity. At any point in […]

My relationship with the work of Zygmunt Bauman, Anthony Giddens, Richard Sennett and Ulrich Beck has been a complicated one. Discovering their work as an intellectually frustrated philosophy student led me to move sideways into a sociology department rather than starting a PhD in political philosophy. Their approach excited me, opening up the possibility that […]