The Mediated Construction of Reality: Recovering Elias for Media Theory

Lecture by Professor Nick Couldry (LSE)

Discussant: Professor Giselinde Kuipers (UvA)

Date: Friday, May 27

Time: 15:00-16:30

Location: REC, Room B2.08

In this talk Nick Couldry will outline the project of his recently completed book, The Mediated Construction of Reality (Polity 2016, co-written with Andreas Hepp). You can find excerpts on Couldry’s website. The book offers a critical reevaluation and rearticulation of the social constructivist ambitions of Berger and Luckmann’s 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality while radically rethinking the implications of this for a world saturated not just with digital media, but with data processes. The talk will outline how a materialist phenomenology can draw not just on traditional phenomenology, but on the social theory of Norbert Elias, particularly his concept of figurations, to address the challenges of social analysis in the face of datafication. Elias, he will argue is a particularly important theorist on whom to draw in making social constructivism ready to face the deep embedding of the social world with digital technologies, and more than that, to outline the challenges for social order of such a world.

Speaker bio: Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory, and Head of the Department of Media and Communications, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author or editor of twelve books including most recently The Mediated Construction of Reality (with Andreas Hepp, Polity, forthcoming 2016), Ethics of Media  (2013 Palgrave, coedited with Mirca Madianou and Amit Pinchevski), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism (Sage 2010).


The lecture is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

For more information contact Justus Uitermark (

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Breaking News from the ISA

We have just been notified that the Executive Committee of the International Sociological Association has approved the upgrading of Working Group 02 (Historical and Comparative Sociology) to the status of full Research Committee, under the title ‘Historical Sociology’.

For those unfamiliar with the Byzantine world of the ISA, the word ‘upgrading’ requires explanation. Within the ISA, there is a four-level hierarchy. From the 1994 World Congress in Bielefeld, figurational sociologists organised sessions in an Ad Hoc Group, the lowest and most temporary status; at every World Congress from then until Gothenburg in 2010 (apart from Durban in 2006) we had to re-apply for Ad Hoc sessions. At Gothenburg, we merged with the Thematic Group on Historical and Comparative Sociology, led by our friends Manuela Boatca and the late Willfried Spohn (for whose obituary, see Figurations 37), who had already taken one step up the ladder. Together we became a Working Group (rung three); now we have reached the dizzying height of full Research Committee.

The title ‘Historical Sociology’ is perhaps not ideal from an Eliasian point of view. Norbert Elias himself always denied that he was ‘an historical sociologist’ – both because all sociology needs to be historical, in the sense that in his view time is always one axis of any sociological explanation, and because ‘historical sociology’ should thus not be seen as just one of many subdivisions of the discipline. Nevertheless, ‘Historical Sociology’ was the title available within the ISA: there is already RC 20 Comparative Sociology, of which many figurational sociologists are already members.

Actually, it is remarkable that there has never before been an ISA section on Historical Sociology, considering that in its origins sociology was historical sociology. Nina Baur recently suggested to me that a better title would have been ‘History and Social Processes’, but it is too late now. I think we can take pride in this final upgrading and in this title. I hope that many readers of this blog will become members of the new Research Committee.

At the ISA Forum in Vienna in July, I shall step down as President. But Robert van Krieken is the sole nominee to continue as Vice-President, and Paddy Dolan the sole nominee to succeed Manuela as Secretary/Treasurer.

Stephen Mennell

President, ISA WG 02

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Note on the Brazilian and Latin American unfolding (decivilizing) process

Esteban Castro, writing from Brazil, has posted a highly topical article entitled “The need to preserve the historical memory and defend the democratization process in Brazil and the region” on the ISA’s new “Social Justice and Democratisation Space” – see

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now online: Human Figurations, Vol. 5, Issue 1

Human Figurations, volume 5, issue 1, is now online*?rgn=full+text

Contents are as follows. Note that they include Arjan Post’s transcription and edition of a previously unpublished 1984 lecture by Norbert Elias.

Editor’s Introduction Liston, Katie
Civilised Provocations in the Lion’s Den… Post, Arjan
The Prinsenhof Lecture Elias, Norbert
Shame as Social Pain Goudsblom, Johan
Towards an integration of Lust and Love? Eroticisation and Sexualisation since the 1880s Wouters, Cas
Elias and the Sociology of Ideas: A Critique of Randall Collins’s Microsociology of Intellectual Change Gilbert, Thomas Krendl
The Myth of Social Progress, Revisited Lempert, David
Risks of corruption and the development of self-control of public officials Šņitņikovs, Aleksejs
Book Reviews
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Conference: Rethinking Urban Inequality


International Conference

The Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield, UK

Tuesday June 7th, 2016


Co-conveners: Ryan Powell (Sheffield Hallam University) and John Flint (University of Sheffield)

Numerous studies now highlight the changing and deepening nature of urban inequalities. In the context of continued efforts to profile these issues by Sheffield urbanists we are delighted to host a meeting that will bring the noted scholar, Loїc Wacquant, to the city to deliberate on these issues with colleagues. Wacquant has of course been influential in numerous domains, including urban sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, criminology, planning and urban and housing studies.  A key strength of this body of work is the way in which it combines detailed empirical research, theoretical insight, comparative research, policy analyses and historical perspectives within a broader project of detailing and understanding the particularities of urban inequality in contemporary societies.  His dynamic theoretical framework is increasingly called upon in analyses of urban marginality and critiques of contemporary modes of governance.  In a period of declining policy attention or investment in core urban problems this symposium offers an exciting opportunity to connect empirical, theoretical and practically oriented work that falls within the broad purview scoped by Wacquant’s work.

This international one-day conference seeks to engage with Wacquant’s ongoing project of ‘disentangl[ing] the triangular nexus of class fragmentation, ethnic division and state-crafting in the polarizing city’ (Wacquant, 2014). The conference will promote reflections on three broad themes: (i) social class; (ii) ethnicity; and (iii) state and space. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Loїc Wacquant, University of Berkeley California and Centre de Sociologie Européenne, Paris
  • Matt Clement, University of Winchester
  • Adam Elliott-Cooper, University of Oxford
  • John Flint, University of Sheffield
  • Emma Jackson, Goldsmith’s
  • Isabella Clough Marinaro, John Cabot University
  • Kirsteen Paton, University of Leeds
  • David Robinson, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Fabien Truong, Paris 8
  • Justus Uitermark, University of Amsterdam


The conference will provide an opportunity to engage with Wacquant’s recent work and assess its continued relevance in rethinking urban inequality in the present period. It also seeks to explore the potential for the refinement and development of Wacquant’s framework and theoretical syntheses with other perspectives in application to dynamic urban and social processes, across Europe and beyond, namely:

  • How can Wacquant’s work aid the empirical understanding of today’s complex urban inequalities?
  • And how can empirical investigation and theoretical synthesis aid the refinement and development of Wacquant’s important work?

The conference seeks to engage scholars interested in the changing nature of urban relations in developing an empirically and theoretically informed understanding of contemporary urban inequalities.

How to book

The event is part funded by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University; the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. A fee of £50 will be payable by all delegates to cover the remaining running costs of the conference.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.  To book a place please visit:

Conference website

The full programme, speaker biographies, papers and other relevant supporting materials will be uploaded to the conference website in the run up to the event.  Please check for updates.

Contact details

Emma Smith – / Ryan Powell –


Wacquant, L. (2014) ‘Marginality, ethnicity and penality in the neo-liberal city: an analytic cartography’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(10), pp.1687-1711.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Deadline: Münster Conference 8–11 September 2016

Colleagues are reminded to send in their abstract for  the conference BY 25 MARCH.

Abstracts may be submitted online at:


Stefanie Ernst

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CfP: Changing Power Relations and the Drag Effects of Habitus

Changing Power Relations and the Drag Effects of Habitus:
Theoretical and Empirical Approaches in the Twenty‐First Century

The Institute of Sociology at the Westphalian Wilhelms‐University is organising a conference in Münster, Germany, on 8–10 September 2016. The conference results from collaboration between Stefanie Ernst (Professor of Sociology, Work and Knowledge) and Christoph Weischer (Professor of Sociology, Analysis of Social Structure, and Methods), and has the support of the Norbert Elias Foundation, Amsterdam.

Orientation of the conference
Sociologists study social processes that unfold through space and time, but also through the experience of people who are caught up in those processes. Social scientific theories and explanations must therefore always incorporate the dimension of experience; they are, so to speak, theories in five dimensions.
The concepts of power and habitus are pivotal in understanding social processes. Wherever people are interdependent with each other – whenever they have needs that only transactions with others can meet – there are power balances or ratios, which may be stable or fluctuating, relatively equal or unequal. The needs that people have of each other range from the material, through information or means of orientation, to the emotional.

As for habitus, people’s ‘second nature’ – their cultural dispositions and personality traits – is shaped through their life experience, including their experience of power balances. Habitus formation and conscience formation – and transformation – are central components of social change, but they then feed back into the course of the processes that formed them. People’s habitus, formed gradually in the past, may prove an impediment to contemporary social changes, but on the other hand may adapt well and indeed facilitate change: there are leads and lags and drag effects. These questions are central to sociological theory and to this conference: our concerns extend from the past to the present to possible futures.

Call for papers
You are invited to submit abstracts relating to the suggested panels below. Proposals for new panels with a theoretical–empirical focus on contemporary issues will also be welcome.

Methodological and Theoretical Approaches
Here the focus of attention will be on theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches to the study of the dynamics, directions and structures of processes of transformation, and on how the self‐perceptions and self‐experiences of the people involved in such processes can be incorporated into sociological theories.

Work, Unemployment and Lifestyle
In the past few decades, the living and working conditions of people have undergone enormous changes in differently structured societies. Through new waves of economic globalisation, technologisation and individualisation, traditional ways of organising life and work have lost their importance. The study of the structures and directions of these processes, on the one hand, and the study of self‐experiences of people affected by these rapid transformations, on the other hand, will be the main focus of this panel.

Education, Economy and Social Inequalities
In recent decades we have also been able to observe processes of transformation in the fields of education and the economy, generally involving new patterns of equality and inequality. This panel will deal with dynamics, directions and structures of these processes, and with the self‐experience of people affected. Both dimensions should also be considered in different examples of social inequalities.

Environment and Health
A major problem facing all human societies today is environmental deterioration and climate change. Environmental problems are social problems, and therefore a topic for sociological reflection. How can sociological conceptualisation contribute to a reality‐congruent kind of understanding and explanation of the ongoing controversies on environmental issues? How do the people involved as decision makers as well as ordinary citizens estimate the dangers that could arise from these developments? What are the long‐term dynamics of these developments?

Social Conflicts, Immigration and Democratisation
In this panel, by looking at various case studies, we will demonstrate how social conflicts, tensions and wars arise and develop. The question of how people thus affected experience these developments, themselves and their perceived opponents plays an important role as well. We also want to deal with the issues of immigration and integration which have increased, especially in the course of economic globalisation and emerging new technologies.

Global, National and Local Identities
In the course of economic globalisation in recent decades, the topic ‘identity’ has attracted major attention in social sciences. In this session, we ask what kind of reality the term ‘identity’ symbolically represents and how this reality can be empirically grasped, on the basis of case studies from differently structured societies. At the level of self‐experience of the people affected, we will look at how the people in different societies experience processes of transformation in their identities: for instance, what does it mean to use concepts like ‘crisis of identity’ or ‘European identity’?

The deadline for submission is 25 March 2016.
To upload your short abstract, please log in to the website:

More conference registration details will follow under:

Organising Committee
Prof. Dr. Stefanie Ernst, Dr. Behrouz Alikhani, Prof. Dr. Christoph Weischer, Dr. Damir Softic, all of the Institute of Sociology.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CfP RC33 conference Leicester 11-16 September 2016

Call for Papers on Comparative, Longitudinal and Historical Research for
the 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology (RC33)
at the University of Leicester (United Kingdom)
Conference Date: September 11th – 16th, 2016
Submission Deadline for Papers: 21st January, 2016
Session Topics
The conference will host the following sessions on comparative, longitudinal and historical research:

1. Auto/Biographical Methods (Goodwin and O’Connor)

2. Methodologies of sociological discourse research (Reiner Keller)

3. Analysing qualitative longitudinal couple data. A comparative perspective. (Marie Evertsson and Daniela Grunow)

4. Researching Social Processes (Jason Hughes)

5. Process-Oriented Micro-Macro-Analysis: Mixing Methods in Longitudinal Analysis and Historical Sociology (Nina Baur, Eric Lettkemann, Jannis Hergesell and Maria Norkus)

6. Social Studies of Reproduction: techniques, methods and reflexive moments (Nicky Hudson et al)

7. Effect of respondents’ age on interviews (Susanne Vogl)

8. Contemplative methods meets sociological imagination. An enactive perspective for sociological inquiry and wise social transformation (Vincenzo Giorgino and Krzysztof Konecki)

9. Spatial Analysis (Nina Baur, Linda Hering, Jona Schwerer and Cornelia Thierbach)

10. Analyzing space and spatial externalities (Alexandra Wicht et al)

11. Monitoring Data Collection in International Settings (Ellen Marks)

12. Cultural response styles (Martin Weichbold et al)

13. Maximizing Equivalence in Cross-Nation/Cultural Surveys Using the Total Survey Error Paradigm (Tom Smith and Peter Marsden)

Please check the Conference Website for a full list of sessions and session descriptions.

Conference Website

Please find further information on ISA RC33 (Research Committee on Logic & Methodology of the International Sociology Association) on

How to Submit an Abstract
1. To submit a paper abstract for any session of the RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, you should visit:

After landing on the homepage, navigate to ‘Abstract Submission’, which appears in the top left hand column of the webpage.

2. Complete the form in full. You may wish to cut and paste your abstract into the Abstract field from another document.

3. Choose the relevant session for your stream. To do so you will need to select the relevant lead session organiser from the drop-down menu highlighted in the image below. To check you are submitting to the correct session, you can view a table of sessions and session convenors by clicking the link entitled ‘View the list of sessions and session convenors’. Once complete, click submit.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CfP Process-Oriented Micro-Macro-Analysis

Call for Papers for the Session
Process-Oriented Micro-Macro-Analysis:
Mixing Methods in Longitudinal Analysis and Historical Sociology
at the 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology (RC33), University of Leicester (United Kingdom)
Conference Date: September 11th – 16th, 2016
Submission Deadline for Papers: 21st January, 2016
Conference Website

Please find further information on ISA RC33 (Research Committee on Logic & Methodology of the International Sociology Association) on

Session Topic
Social theory is often interested in how social meso and macro phenomena or social contexts (e.g. organizations, markets, cities, regions, societies) and micro phenomena (e.g. everyday practices, interaction, communicative action, individual action) interact, causally influence and change each other.

However, analyzing such questions empirically pose methodological problems which have to be solved simultaneously: Not only is a (1) multi-level analysis needed, but (2) meso and macro phenomena typically change only on the longue durée, thus requiring either longitudinal analysis, historical methods or archival methods which typically make use of QUAL documentary analysis or QUAN public administrative data, structural or trend data. Although today, there are many sources of secondary data available, typically these data were produced continuously in their respective historical times and face the problems of selectivity and availability. (3) In contrast, micro phenomena either address the individual lifecourse or biographies which are typically either analyzed with QUAN survey data or QUAL narrative interviews. Alternatively, very short-term social processes are addressed, which are typically grasped by methods such as ethnography and video analysis. Data are collected today and any past events are reconstructed from the perspective of the present – which poses the particular problem of how to reconstruct past events and social practices on the micro level.

In summary, process-oriented micro-macro-analyses typically combine or mix different data sorts (e.g. ethnography and public administrative data) which address different time layers. Based on these observations and building on the prior debates at the RC33 Conferences in Naples and Sydney as well the HSR Special Issues on “Linking Theory and Data: Process-Generated and Longitudinal Data for Analysing Long-Term Social Processes” and “Social Bookkeeping Data: Data Quality and Data Management” (both 2009), the session asks how to conduct process-oriented micro-macro-analyses.

While papers can also discuss general methodological questions and problems in process-oriented micro-macro-analysis (e.g. sampling, linking data, data analysis), papers discussing specific methodological problems using a concrete mix or combination of data in a specific research project are especially welcome.

Session Convenors
Nina Baur (, Jannis Hergesell (, Eric Lettkemann, ( and Maria Norkus (,

How to Submit an Abstract
1. To submit a paper abstract for any session of the RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, you should visit:

After landing on the homepage, navigate to ‘Abstract Submission’, which appears in the top left hand column of the webpage, see image below:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rates of violent death in non-state and state societies

Max Roser has compiled interesting data from ethnographic and archaeological sources:

Stephen Mennell

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment