PhD Workshop: What’s the point of social ontology?

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 socialontology@warwick.ac.uk 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.

From Modernity to Morphogenesis

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):

Andrea Maccarini

Andrea Maccarini:
Network Dynamics and the regulatory process: a neo-structural approach to morphogenesis

Immanuel Lazéga

Emmanuel Lazéga:
Regularity and Emergence: two frontiers in the morphogenetic approach

Pierpaolo DonatiPierpaolo Donati:
Relations of Authority, obligations and roles

Ismael Al-Amoudi

Ismael Al-Amoudi:
The Morphogenesis of Social Networks: relational steering beyond positive and negative feedbacks

Wolfgang HofkirchnerWolfgang Hofkirchner:
Self-organizing as the mechanism of development and evolution in social systems

Kate Forbes-Pitt

Kate Forbes-Pitt:
Emergence: relating emergents and morphogenesis

Tony LawsonTony Lawson:
Emergence, Downward Causation and Causal Reduction

Doug Porpora

Doug Porpora:
Social Change as Morphogenesis

Colin WightColin Wight:
Morphogenesis, Continuity and Change in the International Political System

Workshop attendees

 

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22nd Annual Conference of the International Association for Critical Realism (IACR), July 31 – August 2, 2019

The International Association for Critical Realism (IACR) are now accepting abstract submissions for their annual conference, which this year focuses on the topic of ‘post-truth’. The organisers explain that the conference will “explore, from a Critical Realist perspective, the challenges ‘post-truth’ politics pose for society, the need for value-based research, and the role, representation and dissemination of academic knowledge in the public sphere.”

Proposals for paper sessions on the following themes are especially invited:

  • The role and representation of scientific knowledge, evidence and expertise in the public domain
  • The value base and emancipatory potential of academic knowledge and its scope to inform policy and practice
  • The application of Critical Realism to real-world problems and issues
  • Climate change/ denial of climate change and environmental protection
  • The complementarities and tensions between postmodernism and neoliberal political discourse and politics
  • International politics in a ‘post-truth’ environment
  • The relationship between Critical Discourse Analysis/Studies and Critical Realism
  • Education, including higher education, in the context of post-truth politics
  • Health and well-being in the context of neoliberal politics

The conference will take place at the University of Southampton, between the 31st of July and the 2nd of August, 2019. It will include a roundtable on the work of Andrew Collier. Further information about the conference can be accessed at https://iacrsoton.wordpress.com, and enquiries can be sent to Erin Forward: E.M.Forward@soton.ac.uk

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

Realist Responses to Post-Human Society: Ex Machina

This volume is the first of a trilogy which investigates, from a broadly realist perspective, the place, and challenges, of the human in contemporary social orders. The authors, all members of the Centre for Social Ontology, ask what is specific about humanity’s nature and worth, and what are their main challenges in contemporary societies?

Examining the ways in which recent advances in technology threaten to blur and displace the boundaries constitutive of our shared humanity, Realist Responses to Post-Human Society: Ex Machina explores the philosophical and ethical questions raised by these developments, and discusses the dangers posed by the combination of transhumanism with post-humanist social theories and antihumanist practices, institutions and ideologies.

Find out more on the publisher’s website here.

The Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize for 2017

We are delighted that our book Morphogenesis and Human Flourishing was awarded the Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize for 2017. This is what the prize committee said about the book:

This is an edited collection on the nature of morphogenic society, the ethics of flourishing, and the relationship between social change and ethics. It is a rich dialogue which can stimulate further debate about flourishing under modern social conditions. While there is some unevenness in the 13 chapters, the book is worthy of the Cheryl Frank prize for how it pulls together and focuses a strong group of critical realists writing about ethical issues. Its approach differs from other critical realist work in the field by Christian Smith and Andrew Sayer. It is the final volume in a series of five that includes volumes on social morphogenesis, late modernity, generative mechanisms, and the crisis of normativity. Recognised as the culmination of this broader achievement, Morphogenesis and Human Flourishing is nonetheless judged on its own merits for the prize.

Find out more about the book here.. It was the final volume in our Social Morphogenesis series.

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.