Morphogenesis and the Crisis of Normativity

morphogenesisWe’re pleased to announce that the next volume of our book series has been released: Morphogenesis and the Crisis of Normativity.

Introduction: Does Social Morphogenesis Threaten the Rule of Law? – Margaret Archer

The Great Normative Changes of the Twentieth Century – Douglas Porpora

Reflexive Secularity: Thoughts on the Reflexive Imperative in a Secular Age – Philip S. Gorski

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

The Normative Texture of Morphogenic Society: Tensions, Challenges, and Strategies – Andrea M. Maccarini

In Letter and in Spirit: Social Morphogenesis and the Interpretation of Codified Social Rules – Ismael Al-Amoudi

Anormative Social Regulation: The Attempt to Cope with Social Morphogenesis – Margaret S. Archer

Joint ‘Anormative’ Regulation from Status Inconsistency: A Multilevel Spinning Top Model of Specialized Institutionalization – Emmanuel Lazega

The Fragile Movements of Late Modernity – Mark Carrigan

The Relational Understanding of the Origin and Morphogenetic Change of Social Morality – Pierpaolo Donati

Collective Practices and Norms – Tony Lawson

Ethics from Systems: Origin, Development and Current State of Normativity – Wolfgang Hofkirchner

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: 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

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 with a brief biography and description of your project.

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:

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


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:

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

Please circulate this call to your Networks.

Corporate Social Entrepreneurship

A new book from CSO associate Christine Hemingway. See here for more details:

Neo-liberal capitalism has failed spectacularly and old-style socialism is not an alternative. I applied morphogenetic theory to the tentative, ethnographically-derived findings from my exploratory research into social responsibility as a subjective state, amongst corporate employees. Chapter 12 of my book theorises how corporate social responsibility (CSR) has shifted from the old Friedmanite perspective of subversive doctrine and can move beyond current instrumental CSR, espoused by the majority of ‘Conformist’ employees. Corporate social entrepreneurs, in the minority, operate regardless of the organisational climate. If they are given political legitimacy in the workplace, we might expect the growth of a much better form of capitalism than we have at the present time.

Centre for Social Ontology