Plenary session (P) address the main conference topic.
Confirmed Plenary Speakers can be checked here.
Plenary 1 - "Envisioning alternative futures" with Manuel Castells and Alondra Nelson
Chaired by the President of ESA, Marta Soler
Manuel Castells | Open University of Catalonia, Spain
The Post-Covid Society
We are still in the midst of the Covid Pandemics. And we will for a long time. Thus, this lecture will not talk about the future, but about our long now. The roots of the pandemics are in the interaction between an uncontrolled networked globalization, the destruction of nature by giant metropolitan regions, and the neglect of public services, and particularly public health. Some of the undergoing changes have to do with the organization of life and work. Teleworking, Tele-teaching, tele-commerce. And the fast spread of networked digitalization in all domains of human activity. The Network Society is coming of age. However, there are deeper, and more ominous changes in the make. The breakdown of basic human solidarity between countries and within countries. A new divide has appeared in the world between those who have access to vaccines and those who do not. Moreover, in many countries, including the US and France, the assault on reason from the fake news in the social media, is creating a major obstacle to the protection of everybody by opposing vaccination out of unwarranted fear. Ignorance and manipulation kill, literally. The task for sociologists is, as always, to unveil ideology and superstition and provide useful social knowledge to guide our species towards its survival. If we deserve it.
Manuel Castells is Professor of Sociology at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) in Barcelona. He is also the Wallis Annenberg Chair Professor of Communication Technology and Society at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for 24 years, and fellow of St. John’s College, at the University of Cambridge. Manuel Castells holds the Chair of Network Society at the Collège d’Études Mondiales, Paris.
His essay The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, published in three volumes between 1996 and 2003, is considered a fundamental text to understand the economic, informational and identity flows of the global world. The Social Sciences Citation Index 2000-2014 catalogued Castells as the most cited academic in Communication in the world (and 5th in Social Sciences).
Alondra Nelson | White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA
Dr. Alondra Nelson serves as the inaugural Deputy Director for Science and Society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In this role, she brings social science expertise, including attention to issues of social inequality, explicitly into the work of Federal science and technology strategy and policy.
Dr. Nelson is also Harold F. Linder Chair and Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, an independent research center in Princeton, NJ. She was president of the Social Science Research Council, an international research nonprofit from 2017-2021. She was previously professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she also served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science.
Dr. Nelson’s research contributions are situated at the intersection of political and social citizenship, on the one hand, and emerging science and technology, on the other. Dr. Nelson connects these dimensions in a range of widely acclaimed publications, including, most recently, The Social Life of DNA.
Dr. Nelson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Medicine.
Plenary 2 - "Sociological knowledges for alternative futures: migrations and transnationalism" with Mokhtar El Harras, Rosamaria Elizabeth Kostic Cisneros and Thomas Faist
Chaired by the Chair of the Conference, Lígia Ferro
Mokhtar El Harras | Mohammed V University, Morocco
Time And Liminality In Migratory Contexts
In this paper, we approach time as a central variable in migrants’ lives. We intend to show how migration provides the possibility to be involved in multiple time cultures, to experiment a diversity of temporal rhythms, and discordant temporalities which do have disruptive effects on migrants who increasingly face the challenge of transiting from one time to another, and experience the tension and difficulties of temporal coordination.
As marginalized beings from mainstream societies, they confront temporal disjuncture and disharmony between their expectations and reality. If we add to that the work instability, mobility uncertainty as to the duration of residence and next destination, we may then understand their feeling of not controlling their own time as well as their decreasing power in planning their future.
Mostly, migration implies a liminal period of waiting in border posts, at embassies and migratory offices in order to regulate legally the duration of stay, or to transit to another country. At this level, the concept of rite de passage seems suitable, because everyone involved is in liminal phase, between his actual situation and an objective to attain.
Moreover, the in-between state is characterized by indeterminacy, ambiguity and hybridity. In face of the Unknown and in a situation of weak ‘time sovereignty’, migrants try to establish new temporal routines, adopt strategies to mitigate risks, discover new opportunities and make new plans to adjust to unstable temporalities
Mokhtar El Harras is a professor of Sociology at Mohammed V University in Rabat. He was a scientific committee member of the program “50 years of Human Development in Morocco”. Currently he is a member of the Hespéris Tamuda review board. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. He also assumes the co-coordination of the Fatema Mernissi Chair. He was an active member in many national and international research projects and programs. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on rural development, rural women, youth, family, international and transnational migration, qualitative methods in social sciences, media Sociology, public space, and the image of the “other”. Among the books published are: Tribe and Power in Northern Morocco (1989, Rabat, CNCPRST), Fertility and Culture (1996, Beirut, Dar Attalia, in collaboration with D. Bensaid), Women in decision-taking positions (2008, Tunis, KAWTAR), Youth and Media in Morocco (2011, Rabat, Éditions Maghrébines).
Rosamaria Elizabeth Kostic Cisneros | Coventry University, United Kingdom
Unfolding Human Agency: The Case Of Grassroots Romani Women
The EU recognizes that Roma is the most marginalized cultural community in Europe. The Roma issues are also marginalized even in the scientific studies about cultural groups. Furthermore, Romani women are marginalized even in women and gender studies. The result are opaque lenses that prevent science and society from seeing the deep transformations that the Roma feminist movements are creating in their community and in society. The worst consequence is that science and society are full of racist and sexist stereotypes about us.
Romani feminism is one of the most important forces of transformation that has taken place in Europe in the last three decades. After centuries of being double or triple silenced, Roma women have been raising their voice, their concerns and creating our own spaces and discourses challenging long standing prejudices and stereotypes. Grassroots associations like the Drom Kotar Mestipen (Barcelona, Spain) are just examples of how non- academic Romani women are getting organized, unfolding the full potential of human agency and transforming many oppressive structures, for instance, through deeply Roma women revolutionary international congresses. Amidst this context, new masculinities are also an emerging field of study and action led by many Roma men who are walking side by side with women to fight against any type of violence or subordination. Taken these analyses into consideration, I will argue how the advancement of sociological theory, and more particularly, sociology of gender could be much benefited acknowledging these new and nearly not explored real utopias.
Rosamaria Cisneros is a Roma sociologist, curator, dance historian and critic, Romani scholar, and peace activist. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and got a Master’s degree in dance history and criticism. She also has a minor in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She earned her doctorate in Sociology from the University of Barcelona. The PhD entitled "Transferability of Successful Educational Actions of the Roma Women to the plural European Contexts" placed the Romani Women’s Association Drom Kotar Mestipen at the centre of this academic investigation.
Cisneros was and is involved in various EU-funded projects from Framework Programmes of Research. Related to them, she spoke in the Headquarters of the European Parliament. She sits on several boards such as the Roma Coventry Project, GRT Police Association (UK), Drom Kotar Mestipen-Romani Association of Women (Spain). She is also a Research Fellow at Coventry University in the UK.
Thomas Faist | Bielefeld University, Germany
Exit: The New Social Question
The opening of The Communist Manifesto (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels reads: “A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism.” Communism and the proletariat were held to be the gravediggers of the capitalist system. About 150 years later, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri claimed in their monumental study, Empire (2000): “A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration.” Have we moved from the social question, the conflict between capital and labour around unsustainable inequalities, to a cultural question, with migration and migrants as the utopian agents of our time? Has exit in the form of migration trumped the voice of class-based social movements? Has politics around the social question—the politicization of social inequalities—moved from exploitation to exclusion, from class to culture, from redistribution to recognition? This lecture addresses the implications of migration for political cleavages in emigration and immigration contexts. The argument is that exit complements voice in two ways. First, the social question changed its shape over the past 200 years with the advent of welfare states, sophisticated migration controls, the growing relevance of class intersecting other heterogeneities, such as ethnicity, race (racialization), religion, gender, or citizenship, and the growing pluralization of theories guiding political action. Second, the dynamics driving migration politics can be discerned in the politics around the economic and the cultural dimensions in both immigration contexts (welfare paradox and liberal paradox) and emigration contexts (development paradox and national paradox).
Thomas Faist (PhD, New School for Social Research) is Professor of Transnational, Migration and Development Sociology at Bielefeld University in Germany. He directs the Center on Migration, Citizenship and Development (COMCAD). Thomas Faist has contributed to ongoing debates about citizenship, transnationality, migration and social policy in Europe and beyond. He has authored and co-authored numerous books including The Transnationalized Social Question: Migration and the Politics of Social Inequalities in the Twenty-First Century (2019), Disentangling Migration and Climate Change (2016), Transnational Migration (2013), as well as Citizenship: Discourse, Theory and Transnational Prospects (2007), and Dual Citizenship in Europe (2007). Thomas Faist is a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts.
Plenary 3 - "Sociological knowledges for sustainable futures" with Elizabeth Shove and Luigi Pellizzoni
Chaired by the Chair of the LOC, Teresa Sordé
Elizabeth Shove | Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Connecting Practices: Large Topics In Society And Social Theory
The text outlining the theme of the ESA 2021 conference ‘Sociological Knowledges for Alternative Futures’ promises to engage with pressing challenges including sustainable development, migration and threats to health. It also makes claims about the importance of Sociological knowledge for understanding and improving society.
In this talk I resist some of these assumptions. Rather than supposing that Sociology provides ‘analyses’ to inform the ‘actions’ that citizens and policy makers might take, and from which ‘alternative futures’ might spring, I restate the claim that social practices, and combinations of them, can and should be the focus of Sociological conceptualization and analysis.
This changes the agenda. If we view contemporary global problems as aspects and outcomes of relations and connections between social practices, new and different questions arise. How do practices extend across space and time? How do forms of connectivity develop and change and how do these dynamics produce uneven textures of advantage? In working through the implications of these ideas and in doing so with reference to a selection of empirical examples (trends in obesity, carbon emissions, plastic particles, the accumulation of wealth) I hope to provoke some debate about what Sociology has to offer and where its contribution lies.
Elizabeth Shove is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. She is best known for her work on social theories of practice, including The Dynamics of Social Practice with Matt Watson and Mika Pantzar (2012) and for bringing a distinctive approach to bear on questions of consumption and demand. Elizabeth led the DEMAND (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand) Research centre from 2013-2018. The core proposition that energy is used not for its own sake but in the course of accomplishing social practices at home, at work and in moving around underpinned the Centre’s research, and helped generate new and sometimes challenging ways of thinking about these topics. Books arising from that work include The Nexus of Practices (2017); Infrastructures in Practice (2018); Energy Fables (2019) and Conceptualising Demand (2020).
Elizabeth is part of a group working on Practice Theory at Lancaster, thinking about how social practices connect and change together, and about the relevance of these ideas for debates about health and wellbeing, economic sociology and social inequality. Elizabeth has a visiting position at the University of Helsinki at the Centre for Consumer Society Research.
Luigi Pellizzoni | University of Pisa, Italy
Forms Of Sustainability/Sustainability Of Forms. Sociology, Critique And Form(s) Of Life
The ecological crisis, understood as a broad recognition of a systemic problem with the relationship between (western/industrial) society and its biophysical milieu, is about fifty years old. Three master narratives have marked this time span, implying different understandings of sustainability. The ‘limits to growth’ was the first. Sustainability meant stopping growth and turning to a stationary economy. The second emerged in the 1980s, as ‘growth of limits’, in the sense of their receding into the horizon thanks to the ever-increasing eco-efficiency of economy. Sustainability took then its official formulation. The third has arisen in the 2000s, as ‘internalization of limits’. The blurring of distinctions like nature/technology, real/virtual, language/matter, control/resilience, makes sustainability to effectively coincide with the progress of techno-capitalism, as confirmed by the emergent response to (and the very origin of) the Covid-19 pandemic. In these circumstances, to exert a role as knowledge that matters, sociology should address a methodological and a substantive issue. First, against claims about the exhaustion of critique, it should clarify to which account of critique it subscribes. I’ll make a case for a specific one, as suited to the challenge of the present. Second, it should focus on current enactments of such critique as a radical reframing of sustainability. To this purpose, I’ll argue that a key analytical lens is offered by a likewise specific account of the concept of ‘form(s) of life’ – a notion recently witnessing a resurgence in interest. Such an account may help detect most promising expressions of social effervescence and directions for institutional change.
Luigi Pellizzoni is professor of Sociology of the environment at the University of Pisa, Italy. He has taught at the Universities of Trieste, IUAV Venice and the International School for Advanced Studies (ISAS). Recent visiting includes the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change (CSEC), Lancaster University, UK. Appointments comprise a two-term service in the ESA Executive Committee ESA (2011-2015). He has an extensive record of research at international level and authored about 140 publications. His theoretical and empirical interests are located at the intersection of environmental challenges, techno-science advancement and the transformation of governance. In the last years he has been developing a research program on the reciprocal affections of novel takes on materiality and the governmental rationality of late capitalism, results of which are accounted for in articles, book chapters and the book Ontological Politics in a Disposable World: The New Mastery of Nature (Routledge, 2016). He is presently working on new social mobilizations, post-work, anticipatory governance and alternative ways of relating with the world. He is the coordinator of the research group and community of discussion “Politics Ontologies Ecologies”.
More information coming soon!