BJS 2009 Public Lecture Podcast: Loïc Wacquant-Bringing the Penal State Back In

Loïc Wacquant spoke at the recent BJS Public Lecture on Tuesday 6th October at the LSE. Loïc Wacquant draws on classical theory, social history, and a comparative analysis of the penalization of urban poverty in advanced societies at the century’s turn to argue that we need to bring the penal state back to the centre of the sociology of social inequality, public policy and citizenship.

Wacquant is currently a Professor of Sociology and Research Associate at the Earl Warren Legal Institute, University of California, Berkeley, where he is also affiliated with the Program in Medical Anthropology and the Center for Urban Ethnography, and Researcher at the Centre de sociologie européenne in Paris. He has been a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, a MacArthur Prize Fellow, and has won numerous grants including the Fletcher Foundation Fellowship and the Lewis Coser Award of the American Sociological Society.

Wacquant’s most recent book Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (2009) is just out from Duke University Press.


Justice with Michael Sandael

Harvard University are in the process of releasing Michael Sandel’s course Justice as a webcast.  It is a very well delivered introduction to political theory, from one of the worlds best teachers.   As the site says:

Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history.  Nearly one thousand students pack Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre to hear Professor Sandel talk about justice, equality, democracy, and citizenship. Now it’s your turn to take the same journey in moral reflection that has captivated more than 14,000 students, as Harvard opens its classroom to the world.

This course aims to help viewers become more critically minded thinkers about the moral decisions we all face in our everyday lives.  In this 12-part series, Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do.  He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios.  The result is often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.  Sorting out these contradictions sharpens our own moral convictions and gives us the moral clarity to better understand the opposing views we confront in a democracy.

Part one is below.  The rest of the videos are available here.  The site also includes reading material and discussion guides for each lecture.

Judith Butler lecture on Frames of War@Birkbek, 2009.

Listen to Judith Butler’s lecture on her new book Frames of War (2009) mentioned last week at Birkbeck College, 4th February 2009, at Backdoorbroadcasting. Here:

extending the argument of Precarious Life (Verso, 2004), Butler argues that process of differential grieving is enacted through media forms that have become part of the very waging of war. This situation has led to the first-world destruction and abandonment of populations who do not conform to the prevailing norm of the human. Such ungrievable populations are framed as never having been “lives” at all, and so already lost from the living from the start. Cast as threats to human life as we know it, rather than as living populations, such populations become targeted for destruction in order to protect the lives of “the living”. This disparity, Butler argues, has profound implications for why and when we feel horror, outrage, guilt, loss and righteous indifference, both in the context of war and, increasingly, everyday life. In this lecture on media – in its broadest sense – and war, Butler focuses on the question: what are the conditions under which a life can be apprehended as a life, and loss openly mourned?

A review by Steven Poole in the Guardian is available here.

Call for Papers: 7th Global Conference on War and Peace, Prague 2010

7th Global Conference > War and Peace > >

Friday 30th April – Sunday 2nd May 2010 > Prague, Czech Republic > > Call for Papers >

The opening decade of the 21st century has seen war assume a number of > new forms – new at least in relation to the 20th century. So, for > instance, the West’s war in Afghanistan is already longer than WW2, and > shows no sign of coming to an end; the nature of those engaged in war > has widened to include a variety of non-state agents; and war itself has > come to include as arguably justifiable tactics and strategies > previously either excluded or at least not recognised as legitimate. In > short, the distinction between war and peace is becoming increasingly > unclear. > > The 2010 conference is part of a continuing and explicitly multi- and > inter-disciplinary conversation that aims to bring together people from > a wide range of disciplines to focus on this centrally significant > aspect of our social lives in order better to understand the nature and > place of war and peace. > > The main themes are outlined below: however, we are also pleased to > receive proposals that extend or complement these. We seek contributions > from both practitioners and academics, and from the widest possible > range of intellectual interests and commitment. Continue reading “Call for Papers: 7th Global Conference on War and Peace, Prague 2010”


Emotion Review is a new fully peer reviewed scholarly journal published by SAGE in association with the International Society for Research on Emotion (ISRE) from 2009.

Its unique aim is to publish a combination of theoretical, conceptual, and review papers — often with commentaries — to enhance debate about critical issues in emotion theory and research. Emotion Review publishes work across a wide interdisciplinary field of research that traverses many disciplines. In this respect, the journal is open to publishing work in anthropology, biology, computer science, economics, history, humanities, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, physiology, political science, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and in other areas where emotion research is active.

The current edition of the journal is a Special Issue on the history of emotion, or more correctly, the history of emotions research from a range of disciplines including sociology, psychology, neuroscience and history.  Contributors include Jonathan H Turner, Rom Harré and it is edited by Peter N Stearns.  Subscription is free until 2010 for registered Sage users.  




Judith Butler



“Judith Butler is the most creative and courageous social theorist writing today. FRAMES OF WAR is an intellectual masterpiece.” Cornel West

“To propose that Judith Butler is one of the world’s leading thinkers, a feminist philosopher whose writing has impacted on a wide domain of disciplinary fields inside the academy, as well as on political culture in the outside world, is hardly contentious. We are, many of us, deeply indebted to this body of work which has illuminated issues that are at the very core of life, death, sexuality and existence.” Angela McRobbie, Times Higher Education Book of the Week

Read the full review here:

“Frames of War [is] an important contribution to what will no doubt be an ongoing philosophical and political discussion about the rights and wrongs of war.” Nina Power, The Philosopher’s Magazine

Read full review here:

“Judith Butler’s focus in this collection of five essays written and revised between 2004 and 2008 is the USA under George W. Bush, with Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay looming in the background. The questions she addresses… have a clear bearing on the cultural politics of grief beyond the USA.” Mark Fisher, Frieze

Read the full review here:


The most celebrated feminist in the world – Gender Trouble started the Queer Theory movement and sold over 100,000 copies – returns with this powerful analysis of the role of the media in the ‘War on Terror’.
In FRAMES OF WAR, Judith Butler explores the media’s portrayal of state violence, a process integral to the way in which the West wages modern war. This portrayal has saturated our understanding of human life, and has led to the exploitation and abandonment of whole peoples, who are cast as existential threats rather than as living populations in need of protection. These people are framed as already lost, to imprisonment, unemployment and starvation, and can easily be dismissed. In the twisted logic that rationalizes their deaths, the loss of such populations is deemed necessary to protect the lives of “the living.”

This disparity, Butler argues, has profound implications for why and when we feel horror, guilt, loss and indifference, both in the context of war and, increasingly, everyday life. In this urgent response to increasingly dominant methods of coercion, violence and racism, Butler calls for a reconceptualization of the Left, one united in opposition and resistance to the illegitimate and arbitrary effects of state violence.



“Judith Butler is quite simply one of the most probing, challenging, and influential thinkers of our time.” J.M. Bernstein

“It’s clear that its author is still interested in stirring up trouble—academic, political and otherwise.” –Bookforum

“Hers is a unique voice of courage and conceptual ambition that addresses public life from the perspective of psychic reality, encouraging us to acknowledge the solidarity and the suffering through which we emerge as subjects of freedom.” Homi K. Bhabha


JUDITH BUTLER is Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of many highly influential books, including Giving an Account of Oneself, Precarious Life, and Gender Trouble.


ISBN 9781844673339 £14.99 / $26.95 / Hardback / 200 pages

FRAMES OF WAR is available from all good bookshops and:


Call for Papers: Irish Journal of Sociology

Special Issue on Social Theory

Special Issue on ‘Key Issues in Contemporary Social Theory’

Guest Editor: Piet Strydom

Since the watershed year of 1989, a wide range of profound transformations and changes, often accompanied by crises of different kinds, has taken place and is still taking place at local, national, regional and global levels. In this context, the quite dramatic increase of interest in social theory over the past two decades has led to a remarkable differentiation of emphasis, orientation and even of type in this domain. Approaching the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the time is now ripe to reconsider what counts as genuine key issues in contemporary social theory.

The editors of the Irish Journal of Sociology (IJS), which is now being published in new format by Manchester University Press, wish to publish a Special Issue on ‘Key Issues in Contemporary Social Theory’ not only to take advantage of this opportune moment, but at the same time also to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the journal. It is expected that a sizable issue, including both Irish and international contributions, will result which authoritatively marks out some of the most important direction giving and guiding theoretical parameters for sociological research in the second decade of our century.

Submissions for this Special Issue are now invited and should be forwarded by email to at the latest by 31st March 2010.

Detailed submission guidelines are available on the Irish Journal of Sociology page on

Additional queries to be made to the Assistant Editor, Aifric O’Gráda, by email or by phone +353-(0)-21-490-3756.

Social Exclusion and the Politics of Order

Elias interview 1975

I have found a partial interview featuring Norbert Elias from 1975.  It was conducted by Rob Tripp for a Dutch TV show and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only footage of Elias available online.  Click here

Only about 10 minutes of the clip appear to work but it is an interesting piece.

Feel free to comment/discuss this as you wish.

Journal of Power

For those who may be interested, there is a new(ish)  journal from Routledge dedicated to the concept of power.  It is edited by my thesis supervisor, Dr. Mark Haugaard and is the Official Journal of the IPSA Research Group on Political Power (RC 36).  For those interested, this is a very high quality interdisciplinary outlet for research on power from across the disciplines and has already featured contributions from such luminaries as Zygmunt Bauman, Norbert Elias, Jeffery Alexander, Steven Lukes, Thomas Scheff, Richard Jenkins and Stewart Clegg, to name a few.  It is available from Routledge here.  A number of free, sample papers are available here.  If you are researching power, this may be the journal for you.