Category Archives: Events

The Fifth CSO Workshop: Morphogenesis & Eudaimonia

The fifth annual Centre for Social Ontology workshop took place from the 5th to 8th January 2016 at Sciences Po in Paris. The papers will be published as the fifth and final volume of the Social Morphogenesis series.

Tuesday 5th January: Eudaimonia and the Good Society

Phil Gorski – Human Flourishing and Human Morphogenesis
Doug Porpora –  Some Reservations about Flourishing
Maggie Archer – Human Thriving in the three Orders of Natural Reality
Andrea Maccarini – The Remains of the West: The Morphogenic Society as Source and Challenge to Human Fulfillment

Wednesday 6th January: Morphogenesis at the Macro-, Meso- and Micro-Levels of Society

Pierpaolo Donati – What does a ‘Good Life’ Mean in a Morphogenic Society?
Emmanuel Lazega – Networks and Commons: current organizational struggles to shape new sharing institutions
Mark Carrigan – The Challenge of Flourishing Amidst Variety
Wolfgang Hofkirchner – Creating Common Good :The vision of The Global Sustainable Information Society

Thursday 7th January: Eudaimonia and Social Institutions

Colin Wight  – Wars and human Flourishing
Ismael Al-Amoudi – Social Reflexivity and Political Reflexivity in a just Morphogenic society
Jamie Morgan – Corporations, taxation and responsibility: practical and onto-analytical issues for morphogenesis and eudaimonia

IACR 2016 Reminder

Deadline 31 Jan 2016. Submission guidelines on: http://tinyurl.com/jrh3jdj

We are also delighted to inform you about the following developments:

1. We are currently applying for funding to support PhD students. If you would like to be considered for a grant, please mention it on your abstract.

2. Our Yale colleagues (Margarita Mooney, Phil Gorski, Tim Rutzou) will be holding a post-conference discussion on CR methods on the day immediately following the conference. More info soon.

3. Alan Norrie is assembling papers for stream(s) on What’s love got to do with it?’ If you would like to see your paper included in that stream, please mention ‘what has love got to do with it?’ as a sub-title for your abstract.

Looking forward to a thoughtful and stimulating event,

Ismael Al-Amoudi, Joe O’Mahoney & Tim Edwards

2016 Annual International Conference for Critical Realism

International Association for Critical Realism (IACR)
19th Annual Conference

Wednesday 20 – Friday 22 July 2016

Pre-conference workshop: Monday 18 – Tuesday 19 July 2016

Postgraduate Teaching Centre, Cardiff Business School
Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU

De/humanisation

The dehumanisation of contemporary societies

In many ways, our current epoch witnesses dehumanised social relations. While alienation (Marx) and disenchantment (Weber) or the deficit in social solidarity (Durkheim) are by no means recent phenomena, processes of dehumanisation 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.

In the economic sphere, the financialisation of the economy and the spread of market ownership tend to privilege economic profitability over human well-being. Corporate Social Responsibility is thus deployed as a rhetorical device whose injunctions are followed mostly when they are profitable to corporate shareholders. Yet, contemporary observers of capitalism witness suffering, destitution and ethical corrosion, both in richer and in poorer countries. Equally worryingly, the private sphere also seems to have undergone dehumanisation: 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.

The dehumanisation of the social sciences

The dehumanisation 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 20thCentury. 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 problematisation, of the category of ‘human’.

The realist tradition provides, however, salutary exceptions to this trend. In his dialectical critical realism, Bhaskar (1993, 1994) advances a theory of human flourishing alongside a diagnosis of the ills of modernity. Neo-Aristotelian authors 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.

Rehumanising society and the social sciences?

The purpose of this conference is to explore how critical realism (CR) can contribute to rehumanising both society, and the social sciences. We welcome contributions from all areas of the humanities and social sciences. Equally welcome are contributions inspired by the various voices of CR, both within Bhaskar’s philosophy (critical naturalism, dialectical critical realism, metaReality) and by the various authors who contributed to CR’s flourishing.

Full details are available on: https://www.eventsforce.net/cbs/156/home

The organising team is Ismael Al-Amoudi, Tim Edwards & Joe O’Mahoney.

Please circulate this call to your Networks.

Workshop and Symposium: The Question of the Human in Social Theory and Social Research

25th November 2015, 11:00 to 17:00
WT0.05, University of Warwick 

This workshop and symposium will explore the, mostly implicit, conceptions of the human, humanity and human nature that underpin various contemporary conceptions of social life. In the context of much-publicised post-human futures, this is an invitation to reconsider the idea that social life itself is predicated on the fact that human beings are capable of such collective existence. Humans are beings who have a continuity of consciousness so that they see themselves as themselves throughout their life; human are beings who negotiate a multiplicity of sometimes contradictory identities and recognise each other as members of the same species, and they are also beings who can create and interpret cultural artefacts. Crucially, humans are beings who can deploy a sense of self-transcendence so that they are able to look at the world from somebody else’s point of view and thus conceive new social institutions.

The main focus throughout the day will be on how questions about the human are encountered in social theory and social research and what are the various implications and challenges of taking these seriously in our work. The day of activities will be divided into two parts. During the morning, we will have a participatory workshop for PhD students and early-career researchers. The goal of the workshop is to help participants negotiate the sometimes abstruse scientific, philosophical, moral, and even theological underpinnings of asking questions about ‘the human’ in the context of their own research projects. Dr Daniel Chernilo (Loughborough University) will offer a general overview of this field of enquiry as well as reflect on its various implications. We will also invite participants to reflect on their own research projects by making a brief (10-minute) presentation of their research projects and how questions about the human have been or are expected to be encountered within them. We’d like to ask all participants to reflect in advance on conceptions of the human and how they pertain to their projects. Uncertainty here is not a problem, in fact it will be a useful contribution to discussions on the day! In the afternoon, we will have a symposium in which Dr Mark Carrigan, Professor Margaret Archer and Daniel Chernilo will engage with questions of the human as they unfold in their own work on digital sociology (Carrigan), the morphogenetic society (Archer), and philosophical sociology (Chernilo).

To register your interest, please contact D.Chernilo@lboro.ac.uk and Mark@Markcarrigan.net with a brief description (500 words or less) of your research and how questions of the human are relevant to it by October 31st, 2015. The event is free but places are limited. Travel bursaries are available for those in need of it, please ask for more details.

Workshop: Investigating the Internal Conversation

Investigating the Internal Conversation
June 2nd at the University of Warwick

The Centre for Social Ontology invites applications for this practical workshop 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.

This workshop intends to support those who are currently undertaking or in the process of planning empirical research investigating the internal conversation. The day will begin with an introductory lecture by Margaret Archer in which she will discuss the development of her work on reflexivity, ranging from the initial formulation in Being Human through to her recent work with Pierpaolo Donati on relational reflexivity.  Then Mark Carrigan (Warwick), Monder Ram (Birmingham) and Balihar Sanghera (Kent) will each give a shorter talk about their experience of investigating reflexivity through empirical research. The rest of the day will address the methodological and theoretical questions often encountered when studying reflexivity e.g. how to identify the modes of reflexivity of research subjects.

The workshop is free but registration is essential. If you would like to participate then please e-mail socialontology@warwick.ac.uk with a brief description of your project. We’re keen to adapt the content as much as possible to meet the needs of participants. If there are particular issues you would like us to address then please suggest these in your initial e-mail.

This event is funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation

The Social Ontology of Digital Data & Digital Technology, July 8th in London

This innovative conference brings together leading figures from a variety of fields which address issues of digital technology and digital data. We’ve invited speakers with a range of intellectual perspectives and disciplinary backgrounds who engage with questions relating to digital data and digital technology in their work. Our suggestion is that social ontology, however this might be construed, represents a potential common ground that could cut across this still rather siloed domain of inquiry into the social dimensions of digital technology.

The conference aims to explore this possibility by assembling a diverse range of perspectives and drawing them into a dialogue about a common question, without assuming a shared understanding of the topic at hand. Our aim is to extend this digitally via twitter, podcast and blog beyond the event itself, in order to facilitate an extended conversation that will draw more people into its remit as it circulates after the conference itself.

To this end, we invite each speaker to address this theme (the social ontology of digital data & digital technology) in whatever way they choose. Each speaker will have 30 mins to talk and 15 mins for questions. We’ll have an accomplished audio editor on hand to record each talk as a podcast. These will be released on www.socialontology.org and will be circulated on social media in order to try and stimulate a continuing debate around the issues raised at the conference. The hashtag for the day will be #socialontology.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Chair: Celia Lury (Warwick)
  • Noortje Marres (Goldsmiths) – Does Digital Sociology have a Problem?
  • Jochen Runde (Cambridge) – Non-materiality and the Ontology of Digital Objects
  • Alistair Mutch (NTU) – Organizational Implications of Digital Data
  • Susan Halford (Southampton) – title TBC
  • Nick Couldry (LSE) – title TBC
  • Emma Uprichard (Warwick) – Big Data, Complexity and Time.

Eventbrite - The Social Ontology of Digital Data & Digital Technology

This event is funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation

Our PhD/ECR Conference

Centre for Social Ontology PhD/ECR Conference
June 23rd, University of Warwick, 10am – 4pm

Social ontology is integral to the study of society. It is impossible to inquire into the social world without some understanding, at least tacitly, concerning the entities which make up that world and their properties and powers. However social ontology remains an often confused and contentious matter within the social sciences.

The conference is open to all PhD students and Early Career Researchers with an interest in social ontology.

This event is funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation

Margaret Archer to speak at Epistemology, Method and Complexity

Epistemology, Method and Complexity

Warwick, Friday 8 May 2015

12.45-5.15, followed by Drinks Reception

Hosted by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick

Places are free but please REGISTER HERE.

In this fifth seminar, we explore one of the issues that has already started to emerge across all the seminar so far: epistemology. In particular, this seminar aims to unpack some of the ways in which different kinds of epistemological positions that tend to be implicit in complexity discussions in general. One of the features that has become clear to the seminar series organisers series is the ways in which each seminar as so far tended to ‘divide’ the seminar participants, with particular members preferring certain seminars over others in a way that tends to also map on to their respective disciplinary backgrounds.

In spite of the different approaches to complexity that are so obviously present across the disciplines, one of the aims of this seminar series has been to prioritise the social and to explore what a complex social systems methodological approach might entail. With this in mind, we return to some fundamental concepts in social science as way of exploring how they may or may not be turned on their head from a complex systems perspective.

In doing so, this seminar focuses on two aspects of the social that we consider to be fundamental to a complex systems approach, namely agency and evaluation. Often these concepts tend to sit separately to one another and they also tend not to be key priorities within complexity approaches in general either. Here, therefore, we bring them together as a way of rethinking some of the key ways we might begin to formulate what an empirical complex systems approach look like, if it acknowledged the importance of agency and evaluation together.

This seminar will follow a slightly different format to previous seminars in that we have chosen to only have a small number of key speakers and a larger audience. This will, though, still allow us plenty of time for some good discussion.

The speakers are:

Professor Margaret Archer, Sociology, University of Warwick University, Centre for Social Ontology.

Professor Edmund Chattoe-Brown, Sociology, Lancaster

Dr Ana Teixeira de Melo, Center for Social Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Coimbra

Professor Malcolm Williams, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

The Fourth CSO Workshop: Morphogenesis and Normativity

The fourth annual CSO workshop was held from January 6th to January 9th in 2015 at Cardiff Business School. The papers from the workshop will be published in 2015 as the fourth volume of the Social Morphogenesis series.

Tuesday 6th

Doug Porpora – The Great Normative Changes of the Twentieth Century

Wolfgang Hofkirchner – Ethics from Systems: the emergence of normativity with and in social systems

Phil Gorski – Reflexive Secularity

Pierpaolo Donati – The relational understanding of the origin and morphogenetic change of social morality

Wednesday 7th

Margaret Archer –  Morphogenesis and the interpretation of codified social rules

Ismael Al-Amoudi – In letter and in spirit: Social Morphogenesis and the interpretation of codified social rules

Emmanuel Lazega – Polynormativity and Status Inconsistency: a neo-structural approach to regulation

Colin Wight –  Emergence, Development and Death: Norms in International Relations.

Tony Lawson – Collective practices, norms and modern Economics

Thursday 8th

Andrea Maccarini – A Tale of Two Wars: Ontology, Universality and the Normative Tensions of Morphogenic Society

Mark Carrigan – Fragile Movements Emerging out of Digitalization

Routines and Reflexivity – March 10th

Alistair Mutch (Nottingham Trent University)
MARCH 10TH
17.00-18.30, R1.04
Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

Much of the debate occasioned by the development of ideas about reflexivity and morphogenesis has turned on the status of habit. Whilst recognising the importance of this debate, this seminar takes an alternative tack. Returning to Bhaskar’s formulation of ‘position-practices’, it reviews recent work on organizational routines. Developing a position which sees routines as a key emergent property of organizations, recent developments in information technology are seen to cement autonomous reflexivity. Accompanied by an increasing discourse of ‘strategizing’, this might limit the development of meta reflexivity.

All welcome! E-mail socialontology@warwick.ac.uk with any questions