Tuesday, 31 January 2017

We Believe - But Who Are 'We'

Wednesday 15 February 2017, 3:00pm  to 4:00pm 

Sociology Open Lecture Series (ALL WELCOME)
Speaker: Professor Margaret Archer, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

In everyday life, we, as individuals, often speak in the plural referring to a ‘We’. People say: we had lunch together, we went on holiday together, we wrote a book together, we had the same opinion about that, and so forth. This ‘we’ is a term whose referent remains unspecified but its reality is taken for granted. If one asks subjects to say what constitutes this ‘we’ they talk about, they usually indicate a number of individuals (or give a list of names), including themselves. Thus, in ordinary language, use of the ‘we’ appears to refer to an aggregate of people, seemingly wanting, doing or thinking the same thing. However, quotidian use also implies more than that; when a couple says ‘we want…’ they mean something more than ‘our personal wants happen to coincide’.

Most philosophers and social scientists agree that the ‘we’ cannot be a simple aggregate of individuals who are supposed to share an idea, an action or a purpose. Yet, when they try to give an explanation of what lies behind the ‘we’, they also differ greatly in their accounts of it. Analytical philosophers, such as John Searle, Margaret Gilbert and Raimo Tuomela, have spent twenty years trying to vindicate a concept of the ‘We’, one that gives rise to commitment, cooperation and collective action; one that also generates deontic rights: obligations, permissions, duties etc. Uniformly, they have worked on different versions of shared intentionality, best illustrated by Searle’s‘ we-thinking’ (the same thoughts are inside two different heads). Whilst I seek the same as they do from the ‘we’ – commitment, cooperation and collective action – I change the focus.
Instead, I argue that relationships are ontologically real and have emergent properties and powers: properties such as trust, concerns and reciprocity; powers to generate ‘relational goods’ and ‘relational evils’. ‘We-ness’ derives from subjects’ reflexive orientations towards these emergent relational ‘goods’ and ‘evils’ that they themselves generate. Only their object is the same, their thoughts about it may be quite different. But, their orientation towards the effects of their relationality affects their actions in a couple, a work group, sport’s team, orchestra, voluntary association or social movement (without ‘we thinking’, because in each head is one set of thoughts and the two – or more – sets  will not be identical). This relational ‘we-ness’ – and its expansion – is seen as the source of voluntary organizations, of civil society and, ultimately, of the Common Good, all of which are emergents.

Margaret S. Archer studied at the London School of Economics and as a post-doc. at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, also working with Pierre Bourdieu.). She first developed her ‘morphogenetic  approach’ in Social Origins of Educational Systems (1979 re-printed 2013). She was Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick from 1979 until 2010, writing and editing over forty books, including The Reflexive Imperative in Late Modernity (2012), Making our Way through the World: Human Reflexivity and Social Mobility (2007), Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation (2003), Being Human: The Problem of Agency (2000) and Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach (1995). In 2011 she became Professor of Social Theory at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Directrice of its Centre d’Ontologie Sociale. She continues to develop her ‘Morphogenetic Approach’ as the explanatory framework of Critical Realism’s social ontology. The Centre’s main project is exploring ‘the Morphogenic Society’ as a possible future for late modernity, in a book Series edited for Springer. She was President of the International Sociological Association (1986-90); a Trustee of the Centre for Critical Realism; a founding member of FAcSS; the British Nominee for the Balzan Prize, 2013; and a founder member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, becoming its President in 2014.

Margaret Archer  Archer Book Cover

Location: W/222 Wentworth College
Admission: FREE - Eventbrite ticket ALL WELCOME
Email: sarah.shrive-morrison@york.ac.uk

Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers

Wednesday 1 February 2017, 3:00pm  to 4:00pm 

Sociology Open Lecture Series (ALL WELCOME)

Speaker: Professor Stephen Graham, University of Newcastle

What does it mean to be above or below in today’s rapidly urbanising world? As humans excavate deep into the earth, build ever-higher into the skies, and saturate airspaces and inner orbits with all sorts of machines, how might we understand the remarkable verticalities of our world? From satellites to bunkers, from drones to mines, and from towering skyscrapers to the increasingly manufactured ground beneath our feet, this lecture  will explore today’s geographies from a new vertical perspective as a way of gaining fresh insights of how power and inequality work in our world.

Stephen Graham is Professor of Cities and Society at  Newcastle University's School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.  He has an interdisciplinary background linking geography, urbanism and sociology. Since the early 1990s Prof. Graham has explored how cities are being transformed through remarkable changes in infrastructure, mobility, digital media, surveillance, security, militarism and verticality. Prof. Graham’s work has been extremely influential across a wide range of urban, technological, social and political debates across the world. It has been translated into twenty languages. In this lecture, Prof. Graham will talk about his latest book, “Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers” (Verso, October, 2016).

Recently reviewed in The Guardian as 'Society' book of the day

Stephen Graham Stephen Graham book jacket

Location: W/222 Wentworth College
Admission: FREE - Eventbrite ticket ALL WELCOME
Email: sarah.shrive-morrison@york.ac.uk

Sunday, 22 January 2017

CrimSoc would like to invited people to come and listen to two guest speakers from HMP Full Sutton. 

Do you want to know more about what happens to offenders after they have been sentenced? Then our prison talk is just for you! Starting at 6:30 next Monday (23rd) in Physics. We have Stephen Gallagher speaking who is the manager of the community rehabilitation company which helps offenders reintegrate back into the community. Also, we have Steve Pearson speaking who is the acting governor of Full Sutton prison. This is a great opportunity to understand offenders more and see if it's the career for you! 

See you all there!!! 

Free for members and £2 for non-members

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Whatever happened to the mysterious epicentre of the British music scene?

3 Alveston Place, Leamington Spa is an address that is likely to ring a familiar tone. Anybody who bought their music on vinyl, CD or tape is almost certain have come across this address. These formats usually carried a second-class free-post card that was almost always made out to the same address — with the band or singer’s name added at the top. The card invited you to write your details on the reverse before posting. Returning the card registered you for postal updates. The slow speed of this all seems quaint on reflection.

Even infrequent music buyers are likely to have noticed that all of their favourite bands and singers appeared to live in the same house. During the 1990s I had no idea that Leamington Spa was in the midlands, even though I lived there, making it an ideal spot for distributing materials across the UK. My vision at the time was not so much of a house like that shared by The Monkees, but of something much more industrial. A house with a production line of flyers and pamphlets being placed into envelopes and bagged up for posting. The vision I had was much closer to the Malabu Stacy doll factory on The Simpsons. The scale of the task, managing the correspondence for all of the British music scene, seemed like it would be impossible to cope with. I knew the address well, but had no idea what went on there or what it looked like.

As an avid reader of the NME, the Melody Maker and some other music magazines, I didn’t feel the need to post many of these cards. I tried a couple of times and I don’t think I remember getting very much back. Although I do remember sending off to get a special bonus CD insert booklet for a 60ft Dolls album, I got that. I know I didn’t send many off because when I go back to my old music I’m often confronted with these artefacts of a different musical world. This was a time in which the materiality and speed of music information was totally different. This transformation is embodied in the small cards that now fall out of the vinyl I buy, no longer do these invite me to have postal correspondence with a small west-midlands town, instead they carry a code for a free download.

After I noticed one of the Alveston place cards in a 12" EP version of Embrace’s Fireworks, I was reminded of this address and thought I’d take advantage of the advances of technology to correct the visions I’d had. I searched on Google Street view and could only find a building site. The reason for this then became clear. The original 3 Alveston Place seems to have been lost.

So what happened to 3 Alveston Place? It’s safe to say that it lives on in people’s memories. There is quite a bit of nostalgic discussion of the address online. There is a Twitter account named after it @3alvestonplace, for instance. It seems that the address was still being used for official music correspondence as late as the 2000s. It was at some point in the first decade of the millennium that the purpose of the building changed, it became a tile shop. According to Warwick District Council’s planning records, agreement was then given for the building to be demolished in early 2015. A very short entry in the minutes from the December 2014 meeting reveal that no objections were raised to its demolition. The historical significance of the building must have been lost somewhere along the line.

3 Alveston place, Leamington Spa, is now a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom new-build town house, with a balcony. It is part of a 9 house Alveston Place development. The Alveston Place website provides details of the house and the sales brochure carries photos of the development. Gleaming new white fronted houses sit in a row. So, the mysterious epicentre of the British music scene is now a town house. No longer needed as the fulcrum of music information, the networks have moved elsewhere affording its rehabilitation as part of the transformation of urban space. The changes at 3 Alveston Place are linked to both the changing flows of music information and changing urban space. I suspect that despite these changes the address will continue to cause a flicker of recognition from those who liked to listen to their music on a material format. This makes me wonder if the new residents will occasionally get a card through the door addressed to an unfamiliar name. Perhaps they will return it to sender, I’m sorry Black Grape don’t live here anymore.

University Radio York are searching for an academic who would be willing to come and take part in a half hour live debate show with the topic: 'Is there a limit to free speech on campus?'

Dear Politics and Sociology

Dear All,

University Radio York are searching for an academic who would be willing to come and take part in a half hour live debate show with the topic 'Is there a limit to free speech on campus?', this Friday from 6-6.30pm.

The idea of the show is to have a detailed, compact debate, with just three participants. 

A student will represent either side of the argument, and the member of academic staff will be there to provide expertise and balance on the issue and somewhat moderate and fact check the arguments presented. 

We really want the debate to go beyond the sometimes mud-slinging affairs that student politics can get into and feel having someone of your expertise would be highly effective at achieving this.

The context for this topic is the Tommy Robinson event, announced over Christmas and subsequently cancelled, which provoked debates about free speech on university campuses in particular. 

As such, we're hoping the Tommy Robinson case study will be a launchpad into a wider debate.

I would be very grateful for an offer of participation, like I said your expertise combined with your interest in this university would be massively beneficial.

So if you are free between 6 and 6.30 on Friday and do feel you could contribute to this debate I would be delighted to hear from you.

Kind regards,
Peter Rogers

Head of News and Sport
University Radio York

BSA Postgraduate Forum Event: The Promise and Perils of Researching Sensitive Issues

20 November 2018 (09:00-17:00) Call for papers Research concerning sensitive and emotionally demanding issues is vital but challenging...