Why is it more difficult to imagine the end of universities than the end of capitalism, or: is the crisis of the university in fact a crisis of imagination?

  Hardly anyone needs convincing that the university today is in deep crisis. Critics warn that the idea of the University (at least in the form in which it emerged from Western modernity) is endangered, under attack, under fire; that governments or corporations are waging a war against them. Some even pronounce public university already … More Why is it more difficult to imagine the end of universities than the end of capitalism, or: is the crisis of the university in fact a crisis of imagination?

What is the relationship between universities and democracy? From the purposes to the uses of university (and back)

[Lightly edited text of a keynote lecture delivered to the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology’s Graduate conference at the Central European University in Budapest, 18 September 2017. The conference was initially postponed because of the problematic situation concerning the status of CEU in Hungary, following the introduction of the special law known as ‘Lex … More What is the relationship between universities and democracy? From the purposes to the uses of university (and back)

Critters, Critics, and Californian Theory – review of Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble

  [This review was originally published on the blog of the Political Economy Research Centre as part of its Anthropocene Reading Group, as well as on the blog of Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity]   Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, (Duke University Press, 2016) From the opening, Donna Haraway’s recent … More Critters, Critics, and Californian Theory – review of Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble

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