What’s the Point of Social Ontology?
PhD Workshop at the University of Warwick
18th June 2014, 10am – 5:30pm
Ontology can often prove a contested and confusing issue within social research. Everyone has an ontology, explicit or otherwise, but the process of drawing this out and thinking through its implications for research can often be a confusing part of the PhD process. This participatory workshop explores the practical significance of ontological questions for social research, inviting participants to reflect on their own research projects in a collaborative and supportive context. It aims to help participants negotiate the sometimes abstruse matter of social ontology, linking theory to practice in the context of their own research projects. The main focus throughout the day will be on how ontological questions are encountered in social research, the questions posed by such encounters and how engaging explicitly with social ontology can often help resolve such issues.
All participants will offer a brief (5 minute) presentation of their research project and the ontological questions which have been or are expected to be encountered within it. Those still early in the PhD process are welcome to substitute this for a discussion of their research interests and potential project. We’d like to ask all participants to reflect in advance on their own social ontology and how it pertains to their project. Uncertainty here is not a problem, in fact it will be a useful contribution to discussions on the day!
We also invite two more substantial presentations (10 mins) for the first afternoon session, reflecting on your engagement with ontological questions in your own project in order to help begin a practical engagement which encompasses the entire group. If you would be interested in leading the discussion in this way then please make this known when registering.
To register please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of your research and your interest in social ontology (500 words or less) by May 15th. The event is free but places are limited. Travel bursaries are available, please ask for more details.
The latest CSO workshop was held in January 2014, in Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. The papers from the workshop will be published in 2015 as the third volume of the Social Morphogenesis series. These were the papers presented:
Monday 6th January
Philip Gorski – Causal Mechanisms: lessons from the Life Sciences
Colin Wight – Mechanisms, Metaphors and some examples from International Relations
Pierpaolo Donati – Social Mechanisms and their Feedbacks: Mechanical versus Relational Emergence of new Social Formations
Emmanuel Lazega – Dynamics of multilevel networks in social processes: hardwired social control, institutional enterpeneurship and morphogenesis
Tuesday 7th January
Margaret Archer – Don’t Forget the Double Morphogenesis
Tony Lawson – The Modern Corporation as an Out-of-Control Mechanism of Social Change
Andrea Maccarini – Turbulence and Relational Conjunctures: The Emergence of Morphogenetic Environments
Wolfgang Hofkirchner – ‘Mechanisms’ around information society
Wednesday 8th January
Douglas Porpora – Why Don’t Things Change?
Ismael Al-Amoudi and John Latsis – Death Contested: Morphonecrosis and Conflicts of Interpretation
In January 2013, the Center for Social Ontology held its annual workshop with the theme ‘Morphogenic Society’ as a potential new social formation?. The papers presented have been published as Late Modernity: Trajectories Towards Morphogenic Society. The program of papers was as follows:
‘Morphogenic Society’ as a potential new social formation?
16th-18th January 2013
Wednesday 16th January: Papers
Margaret Archer: The Generative Mechanisms Re-configuring Late modernity
Douglas Porpora: What are the forms of change and stability in today’s world and what are the mechanisms?
Colin Wight: Morphogenesis and other mechanisms of qualitative change in international relations
Thursday 17th January: Papers
Andrea Maccarini: Social Change and social qualities in a ‘Morophenic Society’: Symbols, Forms of Life and Individuality
Ismael Al-Amoudi: Morphogenesis and Normativity: problems the former creates for the latter
Emmanuel Lazega: Dynamics of multilevel networks in the organizational society: ‘Morphogenesis Unbound’ from a neo-structural perspective
Thursday 18th January
Wolfgang Hofkirchner: The validity of describing ‘Morphogenic Society’ as a system and justifiability of thinking about it as a social formation
Kate Forbes-Pitt: ‘Relations between relations’: different or similar in the Natural and Social orders?
From Modernity to Morphogenesis was the CSO’s first annual invited workshop. The workshop was headed by Margaret Archer and the papers were published as Social Morphogenesis.
The workshop attendees were (in order of presentations):
Network Dynamics and the regulatory process: a neo-structural approach to morphogenesis
Regularity and Emergence: two frontiers in the morphogenetic approach
Relations of Authority, obligations and roles
The Morphogenesis of Social Networks: relational steering beyond positive and negative feedbacks
Self-organizing as the mechanism of development and evolution in social systems
Emergence: relating emergents and morphogenesis
Emergence, Downward Causation and Causal Reduction
Social Change as Morphogenesis
Morphogenesis, Continuity and Change in the International Political System