Accelerating Habitus Shifts and Long-Term Alternatives

At the Brussels conference on 5–8 December 2018 a session will be organized by Profs. Stefan Kramer and Peter Ludes (University of Cologne, Germany). This is a revised call for papers.

We call for Abstracts for papers of no more than 400 words to be submitted not later than May 15th, 2018. Every effort will be made to accommodate contributions by all scholars who are making serious use of the ideas of Norbert Elias in their research. Submissions should be sent to the conference email address: and to the organizers of this session and/or

Stefan Kramer’s introduction looks at the social credit point system in the People’s Republic of China. It investigates the historical connection of the newly established system with the traditional ideal of the Chinese social structure and its cultural narratives. The traditional ideal aimed at a balanced relationship of benevolence and piety between rulers and subordinates in family as well as in local and state structures. It also refers to the duty of self-cultivation. This ideal represented the central element of the Chinese scholar state since the axis time. It was used similarly by all philosophical schools, even if it has been interpreted and applied differently. This social system of power still determines participation and exclusion in Chinese communities. It has established different narrations of Chineseness in changing historical conditions.

In his introduction, Peter Ludes will argue: In general, ever newer dis-/information and ex-/communication technologies and ex-/communication modes accelerate habitus shifts. The social control and behavior shifts in the emerging world power of China require closer attention also in terms of more widely conceived and more or less reality-adequate utopias/dystopias. Ludes defines “alternatives” as desirable, consistent and realizable social actions, processes, or structures different from the predominant ones or, in Elias’s terms: as long-term intergenerational goals of alternative figurations.

Basic questions concerning accelerating habitus shifts and long-term alternatives include, e.g.: How do new intra- and interstate interdependencies enhance habitus shifts and support or break up previously dominant power ratios? How do alternating perspectives on “Western” modernity prove to be particularly valuable? Which role do widely incoherent perceptions of collective “alternatives” play in the “integration–disintegration tensions” of the “contemporary world”?

All contributors to our session are invited to take into account the mutual interdependencies and conflicts of “comprehensive social control and the newly revived and reassembled ideal of self-cultivation” and/or new types and scopes of algorithmic surveillance.

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