Contentious Politics: Doug McAdam Interviewed by Daniel Little.

Doug McAdam, Professor of Sociology at Stanford University was interviewed by Daniel Little, Professor of Philosophy at University of Michigan-Dearborn on May 13th of this year.  The interview is available on youtube and I post the links below.  Little is primarily a philosopher of the social sciences and it is in this guise that he had interviewed some of the most prominat sociologists in the world, including the late Charles Tilly, as well as Sidney Tarrow and George Steinmetz, among others.  I will post the rest of these interviews here at some stage but for now I can only post the most recent one.  Indeed, it might be interesting to watch the others either before or after this one, as many similar themes and concerns emerge during the interviews.  Also of interest from Little are his blogs, with acting as a useful gateway.  Much of interest here, which i hope to return to soon.

Continue reading “Contentious Politics: Doug McAdam Interviewed by Daniel Little.”

Networks lite: Nicholas Christakis@TED on the hidden influence of social networks

An interesting talk on the importance of social networks by the well known writer, physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis.  He is particularly known for his book Connected: Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives co-written with James Fowler, and for demonstrating the relationship between obesity and the networks (e.g. how your friends are making you fat etc).

As I commented at TED yesterday, the problem with the talk is that one would think that Christakis had single-handedly discovered the importance of social networks.  No one else gets a mention here, nor is the wider intellectual context acknowledged.  Social network analysis and relational sociology more generally are among the most vibrant areas of research in the social sciences at present. While popular, easy to digest work such as this is valuable, it should not be presented as if it were the whole story. What about Harrison White? Or Simmel, Durkheim or Elias for that matter? This was an enjoyable talk but there is a lot more going on in this field than is mentioned here.

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Agamben Again: The Process of the Subject, EGS, 2009.

Another post on Giorgio Agamben-two posts in one week is a record for any theorist here at TT but I think it might be warranted in this case.  In fact, I think that I prefer this session,  “The Process of the Subject”, to the last one on power.  The inclusion, or making explicit, of the concept of process to Foucault’s treatment of subjectivity is fascinating to me, and actually, serendipitously, coincides with my own current work.  I have recently been reading Jean Luc Nancy‘s Being Singular Plural and revisiting Sein Und Ziet as part of the ontological foundation to my PhD, and this talk chimes very well with where my thinking is heading.  And, perhaps unexpectedly, with the implicit ontology within the work of Elias, but this need to be teased out a little more before I commit it to the cloud. EGS site introduces the seminar thus: Giorgio Agamben conducting a seminar on the creation of the subject in the work of of Michel Foucault. Agamben examined the idea of the subject (through a discussion of the role of the author) by contrasting theories of subjectivity between Michel Foucault and Pierre Hadot. Agamben discussed the chiasmatic relationship of the art making the art as the artist makes the art. He spoke of the movement of the location of subjectivity from autonomy to ethics, Nietzsche, praxis, the notion of indifference, the two meanings of ontology, the fundamental difference between essence and existence, and the limits of language. Public open video lecture for the students and faculty of the European Graduate School (EGS) Media and Communication Studies Program..

The rest of the links are after the jump.

Continue reading “Agamben Again: The Process of the Subject, EGS, 2009.”

Bourdieu: Sociology as a Martial Art.

It has transpired that I will now have the dubious honour of teaching Bourdieu to the final year contemporary social thought class here in NUIG, in addition to Elias, Foucault, and the general introduction.  Yea…  As I began to think about this today, and how I might go about it, I remembered a documentary that Loïc Wacquant had recommended to me in Frankfurt a number of years ago when I was starting out on this (damned) project, about Bourdieu and his work.  I tried to track it down then but to no avail.  Today, however, some of it at least is available on youtube, and I am posting these 7 parts here.  I am not sure how long it will remain available so watch it now.

Continue reading “Bourdieu: Sociology as a Martial Art.”

UCD Lecture by Professor Jürgen Habermas on 15 June 2010.

The School of Philosophy in UCD has announced that Professor Jürgen Habermas (emeritus, University of Frankfurt am Main) will receive the UCD Ulysses Medal at a special ceremony on 16 June 2010. The Ulysses medal is the highest academic honour that the university can bestow and is awarded to those whose work has made an outstanding global contribution.

Professor Habermas will give an academic lecture on 15 June at 6pm in the Clinton Auditorium, Clinton Institute for American Studies/Global Ireland Institute. The title is: ‘The Political’: The Rational Meaning of a Questionable Inheritance of Political Theology.

“All welcome but early arrival is recommended”.

Network Theory

The always excellent Omar Lizardo over at has recently recommended two essential new articles for those interested in networks and the history of network analysis in the US in particular.  As my own work is firmly falling within relational sociology, albeit with a more European flavour (e.g. Elias) than American (e.g. White), both papers were fascinating and helpful.  Required reading.

The first is by Ann Mische (2010) and called “Relational Sociology, Culture, and Agency” (Forthcoming in the Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis, edited by John Scott and Peter Carrington).  The second, to be read in conjunction with the first, is “Cultural Holes: Beyond Relationality in Social Networks and Culture” by Pachucki and Breiger (2010) and forthcoming in the next issue of the Annual Review of Sociology.

Both papers suggest ways in which the structuralism of the early network analysis has recently improved by the inclusion of culture and narrative.  Both papers represent the history and the state of the art of this paradigm in an excellent manner and should be widely read.