Theory as practice: for a politics of social theory, or how to get out of the theory zoo

  [These are my thoughts/notes for the “Practice of Social Theory“, which Mark Carrigan and I are running at the Department of Sociology of the University of Cambridge from 4 to 6 September, 2017].   Revival of theory?   It seems we are witnessing something akin to a revival of theory, or at least of … More Theory as practice: for a politics of social theory, or how to get out of the theory zoo

Solving the democratic problem: intellectuals and reconciling epistemic and liberal democracy

  [This review of “Democratic problem-solving” (Cruickshank and Sassower eds., 2017) was first published in Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 26 May 2017]. It is a testament to the lasting influence of Karl Popper and Richard Rorty that their work continues to provide inspiration for debates concerning the role and purpose of knowledge, democracy, … More Solving the democratic problem: intellectuals and reconciling epistemic and liberal democracy

Universities, neoliberalisation, and the (im)possibility of critique

Last Friday in April, I was at a conference entitled Universities, neoliberalisation and (in)equality at Goldsmiths, University of London. It was an one-day event featuring presentations and interventions from academics who work on understanding, and criticising, the transformation of working conditions in neoliberal academia. Besides sharing these concerns, attending such events is part of my … More Universities, neoliberalisation, and the (im)possibility of critique

Zygmunt Bauman and the sociologies of end times

[This post was originally published at the Sociological Review blog’s Special Issue on Zygmunt Bauman, 13 April 2017] “Morality, as it were, is a functional prerequisite of a world with an in-built finality and irreversibility of choices. Postmodern culture does not know of such a world.” Zygmunt Bauman, Sociology and postmodernity Getting reacquainted with Bauman’s … More Zygmunt Bauman and the sociologies of end times

Boundaries and barbarians: ontological (in)security and the [cyber?] war on universities

Prologue One Saturday in late January, I go to the PhD office at the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge’s New Museums site (yes, PhD students shouldn’t work on Saturdays, and yes, we do). I swipe my card at the main gate of the building. Nothing happens. I try again, and again, and … More Boundaries and barbarians: ontological (in)security and the [cyber?] war on universities

On ‘Denial’: or, the uncanny similarity between Holocaust and mansplaining

Last week, I finally got around to seeing Denial. It has many qualities and a few disadvantages – its attempt at hyperrealism treading on both – but I would like to focus on the aspect most reviews I’ve read so far seem to have missed. In other words: mansplaining. Brief contextualization. Lest I be accused … More On ‘Denial’: or, the uncanny similarity between Holocaust and mansplaining

@Grand_Hotel_Abyss: digital university and the future of critique

[This post was originally published on 03/01 2017 in Discover Society Special Issue on Digital Futures. I am also working on a longer (article) version of it, which will be uploaded soon]. It is by now commonplace to claim that digital technologies have fundamentally transformed knowledge production. This applies not only to how we create, … More @Grand_Hotel_Abyss: digital university and the future of critique

Against academic labour: foraging in the wildlands of digital capitalism

I am reading a book called “The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy”, by two Canadian professors, Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber. Published earlier in 2016, to (mostly) wide critical acclaim, it critiques the changing conditions of knowledge production in the academia, in particular those associated with the expectation to produce … More Against academic labour: foraging in the wildlands of digital capitalism

We are all postliberals now: teaching Popper in the era of post-truth politics

Late in the morning after the US election, I am sitting down to read student essays for the course on social theory I’m supervising. This part of the course involves the work of Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, and Feyerabend, and its application in the social sciences. The essay question is: do theories need to be falsifiable, … More We are all postliberals now: teaching Popper in the era of post-truth politics

One more time with [structures of] feeling: anxiety, labour, and social critique in/of the neoliberal academia

Last month, I attended the symposium on Anxiety and Work in the Accelerated Academy, the second in the Accelerated Academy series that explores the changing scapes of time, work, and productivity in the academia. Given that my research is fundamentally concerned with the changing relationships between universities and publics, and the concomitant reframing of the … More One more time with [structures of] feeling: anxiety, labour, and social critique in/of the neoliberal academia