In the third Centre for Social Ontology seminar of 2014/15, Graham Scambler (Emeritus Professor of Medical Sociology at UCL) discussed reflexivity and an interdisciplinary approach to the ‘structuring of agency’:
Margaret Archer’s recent contributions to our understanding of reflexivity in late capitalist society provide useful resources for theorizing across the substantive domains of sociology. Using illustrations from my own work on the sociology health inequalities in general, and my ideal type of the ‘vulnerable fractured reflexive’ in particular, I examine some of the pros and cons of adopting an interdisciplinary approach to the structuring of agency. I conclude with a skeletal research programme involving interdisciplinary collaboration.
The seminar took place on November 11th on the University of Warwick campus. You can listen to a recording of it here:
Prof. Margaret Archer will give a guest-talk at Cardiff University on
an oft-neglected aspect of critical realism. She will address how
groups and group relations are transformed in important respects in
the course of pursuing and introducing social transformations. Her
talk draws empirical illustrations from the contestation of
intellectual property in Late Modernity.
The event is open to established researchers and doctoral candidates
in relevant disciplines. Please register through the link below.
Speaker: Prof. Margaret S. Archer.
Title: How Agency is transformed in the course of Social
Transformations: Don’t Forget the Double Morphogenesis.
Date: Tuesday 2nd December 2014 (2:30-4:30pm).
Venue: Lecture theatre E1.21, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Ave.
Cardiff CF10 3AX.
Organisers: Dr Ismael Al-Amoudi, Dr Tim Edwards, Prof. Rick Delbridge.
This paper reflects on the methodological challenge of applying complexity theory to study social systems. More specifically, the focus is on the problem of capturing complex patterns of time and temporality empirically. The onus of the talk will be: a) to problematize existing longitudinal qualitative and quantitative social research approaches, which fail to capture complex temporal ontologies, and b) to suggest some tentative methodological alternatives which focus on capturing temporal patterns of change and continuity from a complex systems perspective. A particular concern throughout the discussion is how to study complex change and continuity empirically, whilst also ensuring that notions of agency and the reflexive ageing actor remain central.
All welcome! The seminar will take place on October 28th, from 5pm to 6:30pm in R1.15 (Ramphal Building)on the University of Warwick campus. See here for help getting to the campus. Feel free to contact Mark Carriganwith any questions.
In the first Centre for Social Ontology seminar of 2014/15, Daniel Chernilo (Reader in Social and Political Thought at Loughborough University) discussed his work on philosophical sociology. This was the basis for a recent paper in the British Journal of Sociology.
In this presentation, I introduce the idea of philosophical sociology as an enquiry into the relationships between implicit notions of human nature and explicit conceptualizations of social life within sociology. Philosophical sociology is also an invitation to reflect on the role of the normative in social life by looking at it sociologically and philosophically at the same: normative self-reflection is a fundamental aspect of sociology’s scientific tasks because key sociological questions are, in the last instance, also philosophical ones. The idea of philosophical sociology is then sustained on three main pillars and I use them to structure this article: (1) a revalorization of the relationships between sociology and philosophy; (2) a universalistic principle of humanity that works as a major regulative idea of sociological research, and; (3) an argument on the social and pre-social sources of social life. As invitations to embrace posthuman cyborgs, non-human actants and material cultures proliferate, philosophical sociology offers the reminder that we still have to understand more fully who are the human beings that populate the social world.
“Margaret Archer’s contribution to critical realism has been an important part of the recent progress of the field, and her theory of morphogenesis is key to this progress. Her recent volume, Social Morphogenesis, represents a rigorous and serious step forward in the project of articulating this theory as both a meta-theory for the social sciences and a potential contribution to sociological theory. The volume includes two good essays by Archer, as well as contributions by Douglas Porpora, Andrea Maccarini, Tony Lawson, Colin Wight, Kate Forbes-Pitt, Wolfgang Hofkirchner, Emmanuel Lazega, Ismael Al-Amoudi, and Pierpaolo Donati.”
“This volume, like its companion, Social Morphogenesis, is an impressive demonstration of the value of collaborative research in social theory and the philosophy of social science. It is evident that the contributors to the two volumes have developed their ideas in interaction with each other, and the framework has acquired a great deal of substance and coherence as a result.”
In this talk at the Universidad de Navarra in Spain, Margaret Archer critiques the prevailing understanding of socialisation within the social sciences and an alternative account of culture and socialisation in late modernity.
Sociological Realism, edited By Andrea Maccarini, Emmanuele Morandi, Riccardo Prandini, presents a clear and updated discussion of the main tenets and issues of social theory, written by some of the top scholars within the critical realist and relational approach. It connects such approaches systematically to other strands of thought that are central in contemporary sociology, like systems theory and rational choice theory.
Divided into three parts, social ontology, sociological theory, and methodology, each part includes a systematic presentation, a comment, and a wider discussion by the editors, thereby taking on the form of a dialogue among experts. This book is a uniquely blended and consistent conversation showing the convergence of European social theory on a critical realist and relational way of thinking.
This volume is extremely important both for teaching purposes and for all those scholars who wish to get a fresh perspective on some deep dynamics of contemporary sociology.
Since 2008, what began with an initial collapse of the financial system has catalysed into an economic and political crisis of global dimensions. Lurking in the shadows of the financial crisis and occasionally breaching daylight is the ecological crisis. Global warming and climate change hangs like a sword of Damocles over the future of humanity. This is to say nothing of business as usual: growing inequality and impoverishment, continuing discrimination and exploitation, all of which functions to foster moral, psychological and existential crises. Current orthodoxy suggests that such crises are only temporary deviations from an otherwise well-functioning system. Prevailing pessimism suggests that it is easier to imagine global catastrophe and the destruction of the world rather than a change in the status quo able to avert such an outcome.
…to the ontology of human flourishing
In light of the global poly-crisis two questions are now before us; ‘how are we to understand our current situation?’ and ‘what are we to do?’ Albert Einstein is widely accredited as answering this by suggesting “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This new thinking is what critical realism aspires to provide. Certainly, if we are not only to survive but flourish as human beings we require a robust theory and practice able to move us beyond modest business as usual to the possibilities of something more. The 17th Annual Conference of the International Association of Critical Realism (IACR) will explore the different issues connected with this crisis.
Wednesday 16 – Thursday 17 July
Pre-conference workshop on critical realism
Led by Roy Bhaskar, originator of the philosophy of critical realisim (and metaReality) and Alan Norrie, president of IACR
Friday 18 July
Educating for the future
– The ecological crisis
– Forms of realism
Book launch with drinks reception
Saturday 19 July
The political-economic crisis
– Ethics, emancipation and metaReality in action
– Dialectic and critical realism
Sunday 20 July
Ontology of flourishing
– Love, sexuality and feminism in the 21st century
– Religion, spirituality and secularism
IACR Annual General Meeting
Monday 21 July
Where do we go from here?
– Educating for a better future
– Concrete eutopianism
ICCR Annual General Meeting and a workshop on the philosophy of metaReality
Tuesday 22 July
Symposium on integrative metatheories
Priscilla Alderson (Institute of Education)
Richard Andrews (Institute of Education)
Margaret Archer (L’Ecole Polythechnique Federale de Lausanne)
Alison Assiter (University of Western England)
Roy Bhaskar (Institute of Education)
Berth Danermark (Orebro, Sweden)
Hans Despain (Nichols College, Massachussets)
Sean Esbjörn-Hargens (Meridian, California)
Lena Gunnarsson (Orebro, Sweden)
David Graeber (London School of Economics)
Mervyn Hartwig (IACR/ICCR)
Nick Hostettler (Queen Mary, University of London)
Chris Husbands (Institute of Education)
Bob Jessop (Lancaster University)
Petter Næss (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Oslo)
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