Category Archives: Events

The Eighth CSO Workshop: Towards Post-human Society?

The eighth annual Centre for Social Ontology workshop will take place at the Grenoble Ecole de Management from January 7th to January 10th, 2019. It will be followed by an open seminar on Friday the 11th of January, in room C241, from 9am to 5pm. The seminar is convened by Prof. Ismael Al-Amoudi (GEM, social and organisational studies) and will feature professors Margaret Archer (Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, social theory), Pierpaolo Donati (Bologna, sociology), Jamie Morgan (Leeds-Beckett, philosophy and economics), Doug Porpora (Drexel, media studies) and Colin Wight (Sydney, international relations).

The open seminar will feature a morning roundtable session regarding the CSO’s current project on post-human society, followed by an afternoon general discussion around the question ‘Towards post-human society?’ to generate informed dialogue with attendees. Finally, between 3pm and 5pm, the five guest speakers will be available for individual 30 minutes discussions. Do not hesitate to discuss with them either a research project of yours for which you would like their input, or questions you may have about their own research, about realist approaches to social science, etc.

Those interested in attending can register here. Given that places are limited to a maximum of 35 participants, please register early. Please use the first sheet of the Google Doc to register for the open seminar, and the second page to register for the individual sessions should you wish to do so.

Programme:

09.00 WELCOME + presentation of the CSO and its two projects to date (Prof. Al-Amoudi)
09.30 Discussion
10.00 COFFEE BREAK
10.15 Roundtable: Towards post-human society? (Profs Archer, Donati, Morgan, Porpora and Wight)
12.15 LUNCH
13.30 General discussion: Towards post-human society?
15.00 END OF PLENARY, START OF INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS
15.00-15.30 Afternoon individual meetings #1 (Boxes 102; 103; 104; 110; 111; 112)
15.45-16.15 Afternoon individual meetings #2 (Boxes 102; 103; 104; 110; 111; 112)
16.30-17.00 Afternoon individual meetings #3 (Boxes 102; 103; 104; 110; 111; 112)
17.00 END OF AFTERNOON INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS

The Seventh CSO Workshop

The seventh annual Centre for Social Ontology workshop took place  at the University of Tromsø from January 9th to January 11th. It was followed by a workshop with colleagues from UiT Tromsø which can be viewed online here.

Doug Porpora, ‘What the Media are Saying’
Pierpaolo Donati, ‘ Human Enhancement and the Technological Matrices: the Hybridization of Identities, Social Relations and Organizations.
Mark Carrigan, The Human Ghost in the Machine that Learns
Margaret Archer, Considering AI Personhood
Andrea Maccarini, Transhuman social forms, cognitive advantages, post-human Sociability and feedback mechanisms.
Emmanuel Lazega, Fire and Forget Swarms; A.I. and the new wave of militarily driven Bureaucratization of Society.
Ismael Al-Amoudi, Public Policy, Artificial Intelligence and Ethical Problems

The Social Morphogenesis Book Launch

Postmodernity. Second modernity. Network Society. Late modernity. Liquid modernity. Such concepts have dominated social thought in recent decades, with a bewildering array of claims about social change and its implications. But what do we mean by ‘social change’? How do we establish that such change is taking place? What does it mean to say that it is intensifying? These are some of the questions which the Social Morphogenesis project has sought to answer in the last five years, through an inquiry orientated around the speculative notion of ‘morphogenic society’.

In our book launch on May 30th 2017 at the British Library, contributors to the project gathered in order to reflect on their contributions and the project as a whole. Here are podcasts from the talks on the day:

You can see live tweets from the event here.

Find out more about the book series: http://www.springer.com/series/11959

Social Morphogenesis: Five Years of Inquiring Into Social Change

Postmodernity. Second modernity. Network Society. Late modernity. Liquid modernity. Such concepts have dominated social thought in recent decades, with a bewildering array of claims about social change and its implications. But what do we mean by ‘social change’? How do we establish that such change is taking place? What does it mean to say that it is intensifying? These are some of the questions which the Social Morphogenesis project has sought to answer in the last five years, through an inquiry orientated around the speculative notion of ‘morphogenic society’.

In this launch event, contributors to the project discuss their work over the last five years and the questions it gas addressed concerning social change. The day begins with an introductory lecture by the convenor of the project, Margaret S. Archer, before a series of thematic panels presenting different stands of the project. It concludes with a closing session in which participants share three issues the project raised for them, as well as a general discussion.

At the end of the day, there will be a wine reception to which all participants are invited. There will also be an opportunity to purchase discounted copies of the books from Springer.

Book here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-morphogenesis-five-years-of-inquiring-into-social-change-tickets-33813890256

Participants:
Ismael Al-Amoudi
Margaret S. Archer
Mark Carrigan
Pierpaolo Donati
Emmanuel Lazega
Andrea M. Maccarini
Jamie Morgan
Graham Scambler (Chair)

More speakers to be confirmed.

The Social Morphogenesis project was funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation through six years of support for the Centre for Social Ontology. This support was generously extended to enable this book launch.

Celebration of critical realism at UCL

All are welcome to this special celebration of Critical Realism (CR) and the works of its originator, Professor Roy Bhaskar. The event will see the launch of new books on the subject and an introduction to a new member of the UCL community. Chairing the proceedings will be Hilary Wainwright, the sociologist, political activist and socialist feminist, best known for being editor of Red Pepper magazine.

The afternoon will begin with a welcome to Professor Margaret Archer, who is joining UCL, by Professor David Voas, Head of the Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education and Professor Priscilla Alderson, UCL Institute of Education.

Registration and more details: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celebration-of-critical-realism-at-ucl-tickets-31540549633

The Sixth CSO Workshop: Humanism Under Threat

The sixth annual Centre for Social Ontology workshop took place from the 3rd to 6th January 2017 in central London. The papers will be published as the first in a new volume of books, with full details to be confirmed soon.

Maggie Archer:  Bodies, Persons and Transhumans: Why do these Distinctions Matter?

Doug Porpora: Vulcans, Klingdoms, and Humans: What does Humanism Encompass?

Phil Gorski: The Meta-ethics of Transhumanism. Does the ethics of human flourishing provide sufficient leverage to critique radical Transhumanism?

John Latsis: Needs, Wants and the ethics of human enhancement

Pierpaolo Donati: Transcending the Human: Why, Where and How?

Emmanuel Lazega: Transhumanist Interventions: A formula for a divided social order?

Mark Carrigan: The Evisceration of the Human in the Digital Social Sciences

Colin Wight: Death, Dreams and Destruction: the illusions of Posthumanist Warfare.

Jamie Morgan:  A.I. and the failure adequately to define the Human

Ismael Al-Amoudi: Dehumanisation and organisation studies

Wolfgang Hofkirchner: Imagined Futures gone astray; An ontological analysis

De/Humanisation and Organization at EGOS

Please consider submitting a short paper to the EGOS2017 sub-theme on ‘De/humanisation and Organisation’ organised by our deputy director Ismael Al-Amoudi. The purpose of this sub-theme is to explore the dehumanising effects of contemporary organisations but also the potential of organisations to rehumanise social relations. Deadline: 9 Jan 2017, length: 3,000 words. 

In many ways, our current epoch witnesses dehumanized social relations. While alienation (Marx), disenchantment (Weber) and the deficit in social solidarity (Durkheim) are by no means recent phenomena, processes of dehumanization continue to prevail in most spheres of society. In the public sphere, discussions privilege compliance with bureaucratic regulations and quantifiable indicators (such as GDP and its growth) over human needs and flourishing, have the effect of excluding large portions of the electorate from public debate while accelerating the demise of the Welfare State. More recently, Western countries’ securitarian and paranoid responses to terrorist attacks have reinforced a climate of generalized suspicion in which the neighbour is deemed to be a potential enemy (Zizek, 2009).

In the economic sphere, the financialization of the economy and the spread of market ownership privilege economic profitability over human well-being. Corporate Social Responsibility is thus deployed mostly as a rhetorical device whose injunctions are followed as long as they are profitable to corporate shareholders. Yet, any contemporary observer of capitalism witnesses suffering, destitution and ethical corrosion, both in richer and in poorer countries. Equally worryingly, the private sphere also seems to have undergone dehumanization: for instance, impersonal relations are the lot of ever-growing urban centres, whilst familial duties of care are gradually replaced either by indifference or by reliance on salaried transactions with professional carers (Hochschild, 2003).

The dehumanization of society is mirrored, and perhaps intensified, by the exclusion of the notion of ‘human’ and ‘humanity’ from the social sciences and humanities in the second half of the 20th Century. While philosophers such as Foucault, or more recently Butler, have warned against taken for granted conceptions of the human, their warnings seem to have produced effacement, rather than problematization, of the category of ‘human’. This is especially evident in a variety of anti- or post-humanist theorising, which either dissolves human persons into their wider material, discursive or communicative contexts, or alternatively conceptualises humanity only as an aggregate of neurological, psychological or material components.

There exist, however, significant exceptions to this trend. Neo-Aristotelian philosophers such as Sen and Nussbaum have developed political philosophies that place human capabilities at the centre of the stage. In feminist studies, Lawson (2009) advocated ‘minimal humanism’ and in sociology Archer (2000), Sayer (2011) and Smith (2010) have taken stock of the absence of human subjects from social scientific accounts and sketched the contours of a humanist social science. On the post-structuralist front, Butler’s studies of derealization and dehumanization (Butler 2004; 2009) mark a reinstatement of the category of the ‘human’ that remains conscious that norms of humanity can produce violence on those persons who do not fit them.

The major purpose of this sub-theme is to explore the dehumanizing effects of contemporary organizations but also the potential of organizations to rehumanize social relations. We welcome a range of theoretical and empirical contributions on processes of humanization/dehumanization addressing, amongst other issues, the following:

  • How do contemporary modes of organizing and organization contribute to dehumanize people? For instance, to what extent is the largely studied dark side of management amenable to dehumanization? What is gained by doing so? But, equally importantly, which aspects, if any, are not reducible to dehumanization?
  • Conversely, what contemporary movements and novel modes of organizing might contribute to enhance human flourishing and dignity? For instance, how are social movements centered on human dignity such as the Spanish Indignados readdressing the human side of social relationships? How are cooperatives and alternative organizations of work, care and political involvement developing credible instances of resistance to dehumanizing tendencies?
  • Is the concept of the ‘human’ still a useful ethical category when assessing the ‘good’ organization? Does it make sense to wager, with Foucault, that ‘man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea’? Is ‘humanity’ merely an empty signifier prone to endless re-appropriation and whose value is at best tactical but never foundational for social and organizational theories and politics? Or is the notion of humanity, and associated ‘powers’, ‘rights’ and ‘flourishing’, a useful standard when assessing and criticizing organizations and societies?
  • What are the new struggles arising from the attack on dignity and from the exclusion processes that are largely shaping capitalistic societies?
  • Have the boundaries of what people regard as a dehumanizing treatment shifted? Have we become more willing, for instance, to disregard outrage in the name of economic and military security?
  • The dehumanization of bureaucratic organizations has been extensively studied since Weber and Gouldner. But is the emergence of hybrid or post-bureaucratic organizations a safeguard against dehumanization? Or do these novel organizational forms merely shift the modalities of dehumanization?
  • What is the role of information technologies in processes of dehumanization?

References

  • Archer, M.S. (2000): Being Human. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Butler, J. (2004): Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso.
  • Butler, J. (2009): Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? London: Verso.
  • Hochschild, A.R. (2003): The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Lawson, T. (2009): “Feminism, realism and essentialism. Reply to Van Staveren.” In: E. Fullbrook (ed.): Ontology and Economics. Tony Lawson and His Critics. London: Routledge, 311–324.
  • Sayer, A. (2011): Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Smith, C. (2010): What is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life and the Moral Good from the Person up. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
  • Zizek, S. (2009): Violence. Six Sideways Reflections. London: Profile Books.

Interested in the internal conversation? Come to this symposium @SocioWarwick on May 24th

Following on from a succesful event this time last year, we’re organising another reflexivity forum. We potentially have one more speaking slot available but we’re still keen for others to come along for the discussion. Here’s the programme for the day:

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E-mail: socialontology@warwick.ac.uk if you’d like to register – please do so ASAP though as we’ll be placing the catering order soon.

Reflexivity Forum

Reflexivity Forum
10am-5pm, May 24th 2016
R1.04, University of Warwick

Following from a successful initial meeting last year, this event will be the first of a hopefully ongoing series of events aimed at those investigating human reflexivity through empirical research. The ‘internal conversation’ was developed by Margaret Archer as a solution to the problem of structure and agency: a mediatory mechanism that accounts for how society’s objective features influence its members to reproduce or transform society through their actions. Since initially discussed in Being Human, this account of human reflexivity has been developed through a trilogy of books reporting on empirical studies into the distinct modes through which reflexivity operates. This body of work has been used in projects across a range of disciplines and been the topic of much theoretical and methodological debate.

The event is free but registration is essential. If you would like to speak at the event, presenting a work in progress, please register by March 31st with a title and 100 word abstract. If you would like to attend then please register by April 30th.

To register contact mark@markcarrigan.net

Workshop: The Morphogenetic Approach

June 21st, 10am to 5pm
The University of Warwick

This one day workshop is intended for those currently using or planning to use the morphogenetic approach in their research. In the first half of the workshop, Margaret Archer will give an overview of the morphogenetic approach and its development, as well as address conceptual and methodological questions that participants might have. In the second half of the workshop, there will be plenty of time to present work-in-progress or planned projects, get feedback and discuss with others who are doing similar work.

If you’d like to participate then please e-mail mark@markcarrigan.net with a brief biography and description of your project.